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Slideshow: Real Talk Behind the Body Image

By Sofie Wolthers

Imagine battling a constant war with yourself. Imagine lying about the food you’ve eaten for fear that others will judge you. Food and your body image are the two most reoccurring thoughts in your head. Sadly, one in five women in the United States suffer from this reality. 25 percent of college-aged women engage in binging and purging as a way to control their body weight.  There’s no hiding from media’s unrealistic beauty ideal. Long, thin beautiful women with thigh gaps are seen everywhere: billboards, bus stops, magazines, Internet ads, etc. For women constantly battling the agonizing thoughts revolving around their body image, these reminders only reinforce negative thoughts. Only five percent of women in the U.S. naturally posses the body portrayed in advertisements. Despite this, women internalize this false beauty ideal and use extreme measures to obtain it causing physical and mental self-harm.

The National Eating Disorders Associations states “media images that help to create cultural definitions of beauty and attractiveness are often acknowledged as being among those factors contributing to the rise of eating disorders”.

With the prominence of social media and the Internet, girls are more at risk of developing a false expectation of their body image at a vulnerable time in their cognitive development. Young girls going through puberty look at models, actresses and singers on Instagram and Twitter and wonder why their bodies are doing the opposite of their expectations. 81 percent of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. The rate of women suffering from eating disorders increases every year.

Eating disorders are serious psychological illnesses that affect a person’s emotional and physical health induced by extreme eating habits involving excessive food intake or insufficient food intake. The most common among women include bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Bulimia involves binge eating and purging. Anorexia is characterized by food restriction, obsession with a thin figure and an irrational fear of weight gain. Many women suffer from both. People often believe that their eating disorders are a lifestyle choice or simply a phase, but the consequences are often detrimental.

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.