Why do you think eating disorders are on the rise in both men and women? What does society say about body image, how does this dictate our behavior, and why is this toxic for our youth?  

Expert Answers
sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The question about eating disorders is an opinion question. It states that eating disorders are on the rise, and it asks you to provide a reason as to why you think this is. There are plenty of variables that could contribute to a rise in eating disorders. Feel free to state which factor is most to blame. The key is going to be defending your opinion.  

It's possible that eating disorders are on the rise because parents are encouraging kids to eat less or in unhealthy ways. It's possible that eating disorders are on the rise because people are not being educated well enough to understand what healthy eating is. It's possible that eating disorders are tied with other mental/emotional disorders that are also on the rise.  

Personally, I think one of the biggest contributors to eating disorders is having a warped view of body image, and I think the media images that inundate society create that warped body image. This is a topic that I go through with my health class every year, and I always provide statistics on the average height and weight for women in the United States. That is 5'6" and 140 pounds. The average female model gracing the cover of magazines and billboards is 5'9" and 117 pounds. Women and girls are frequently presented with an almost unattainable body shape and size. Additionally, multiple fashion, health, and fitness magazines constantly stress the importance of being thin, looking fit, and losing weight. Many of those magazines contain more pages showing ultra thin women than they contain actual magazine content. The media is selling people the idea that their current body type isn't good enough. People can't strive to be what they can't see; therefore, if all that people are seeing is unrealistically thin or muscular people, they will strive to be that. Eating disorders are attempted mechanisms to become that unrealistic body type.  

This negative view of a natural body image is toxic to adults and kids alike. I love showing the statistic from the Representation Project that three out of four young girls feels "depressed, guilty, and shameful" after only three minutes of paging through a fashion magazine. Body image is a part of mental and emotional health. Eating disorders are a likely symptom of that warped body image that leads to shame and depression. Having an unhealthy view of ourselves is toxic because it contributes to so many other mental/emotional disorders.