With swirling images of tiny models, ripped actors, and an endless advertising onslaught of diets and exercises, it's easy to have insecurities about our bodies. While nobody and no body is perfect, the magic of Photoshop and Hollywood has led many to believe otherwise. When dieting, exercise, or weight loss measures are taken to extremes, eating disorders can present. While most realize the life-threatening severity of these disorders, there are some that actually support them. A recent study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reviewed the availability and content of pro-eating disorder websites.
The study analyzed 180 active pro-ana (anorexia) and pro-mia (bulemia) websites and discovered disturbing findings. The sites not only offered tips for restriction, exercise, hiding behaviors from family, and other suggestions; they also included tools such as BMI and calorie calculators and 'thinspirational' photos of models and actresses to encourage weight loss. Less than 40% included any type of information on recovery support. Researcher and lead author Dina L.G. Borzekowski, EdD explained, “To better understand how media messages can potentially harm, first we must be aware of what messages are out there". View the press release here.
If you or a friend may be experiencing body image or eating disorder issues, help is out there. Both the Student Health and Wellness Center and the Counseling Center can offer support and services to help with your well-being and recovery, as well as other resources available nationwide. While the occasional insecurities are natural, be sure to appreciate the body you have. No one else has it and can use it as well as you!