Simone Baltimore, Staff Writer
*Trigger warning: the content in this article may be triggering to some readers
Kale on a plate. Photo//Sofia von Humboldt
In today’s age, social media is the gateway to information, regardless of how damaging it may be. This information can be accessed by children at a young age, which can have a direct influence on their relationships with many topics, but more specifically food.
I’ve had a hard time with food, weight, and the lot from my early adolescence – and I’ve been surrounded by diet culture for far longer than that. In the peak of my issues with my body, I commonly would frequent Pro-Ana (Anorexia) spaces online, mostly on the popular blogging platform Tumblr.com. These spaces would be littered with body checking, thinspiration, appetite suppressant tips, and body-shaming; all in the pursuit of thinness.
These spaces were oddly comforting when I didn’t have an emotional outlet or much control over anything happening in my life. However, it did irreparable damage to my mind and body for years. Not to mention my environment was unaware, if not completely encouraging of this unhealthy behavior. Commonly complimenting my discipline and appearance made it difficult to even approach the idea of recovery in fear of criticism.
This behavior doesn’t manifest on its own; it is all around us all the time: on social media, in movies and TV shows, in advertisements and more. For instance, in Korean media, their Idols (celebrities) are held to standards that, like in other entertainment industries around the world, are misleading and unattainable for everyday people.
One of the most famous Idol diet challenges, credited to the singer/songwriter IU (commonly known as K-pop’s sweetheart), consisted of only an apple for breakfast, a sweet potato for lunch, and a protein shake for dinner. In recent times, she has spoken out on her struggles with her eating disorder, but it doesn’t change the influence that her diet had on a generation of young people.
Things like this normalize disordered eating in our culture, and with globalization, it’s everywhere, virtually inescapable.
With the rise of body positivity and inclusion, we see an effort to question these beauty standards and diet practices, but there’s much more to be done. Additionally, with trend cycles repeating history because of our passive attitudes towards disordered eating, most of these trends come back in different ways with different names.
We, as a society, have to be more vigilant in informing the next generation – or the public in general – of the true price of pursuing superficial body trends. And as individuals, we have to have more discernment regarding the media, Hollywood ideals and social media trends to know the possible signs of these unhealthy dietary fads and how dangerous they can be.