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Perceptions Of Perfection – Addicted to Dieting

It often starts with simply wanting to lose a few pounds. But sometimes there are biological and environmental factors, emotions and certain personality traits that send people down the dangerous route to anorexia nervosa. High achievers, performing well at school, sport and work, are the main candidates for eating disorders, which often develop around puberty.

More common in females than males, the risk of developing an eating disorder tends to be greater amongst those who are involved in sport, acting, dancing and modelling.  Any pursuit or job where appearance and weight are important can often create body-image dissatisfaction and lead to excessive dieting in order to achieve “perfection.” Within the world of gymnastics and figure skating where the trend is for women to have thin almost pre-pubescent bodies, there are many individuals who limit food intake unhealthily, keeping the body weight to around 15% less than is normal for them.

Keeping Control

People suffering from anorexia nervosa often use the rigid control over food and eating habits as a way to regain some control in their lives, particularly at times of stress or when feeling overpowered by life or school work.  Eating disorders can also manifest after the individual has been subjected to some form of abuse, predominantly sexual. Feelings of anxiety, imperfection, low self-esteem or loneliness are also contributory factors. Peer pressure, being teased about weight and physical appearance by school friends or partners, is another force, which can drive someone to excessive weight loss.

Public Image

The continual parade of stick-thin celebrities, models and pop stars also conveys the message that being thin creates success and is the perfect body image. The combination of public perception of body image and hormonal changes in pre-pubescent young people influences many to attempt to emulate their favourite celebrities, whether they were overweight or already slim. Many images released to the public have been subjected to “photo shopping”, removing so-called flaws, lengthening limbs and reducing curves.

Whilst the media make attempts to condemn the almost brittle appearance of certain celebrities, publishing pictures of so-called “outsize” models displaying perfectly healthy and slim bodies doesn’t help matters. The trend for scarily thin catwalk models persists due to the influence of clothes designers who feel clothes sit better on thin bodies.

Celebrity Weight Loss

Some celebrities notorious for their curvy figures have also jumped on the dieting bandwagon. Dawn French and Pauline Quirke have abandoned their fuller figures for slim line versions and even the cooking goddess Nigella Lawson has dropped several dress sizes in recent months. With fewer women in the public eye displaying full womanly figures, it is no wonder that the quest for the “size zero” figure is on the increase amongst young women.

Until the world of celebrity abandons the so-called “perfect image” and accepts that bodies are beautiful in all shapes and sizes, there will always be unhealthy looking and skinny role models influencing some people’s eating habits.

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