I’ve always been afraid. Afraid of bringing myself to the verge of tears, the verge of lost hope, the verge of a mental breakdown.
I’ve always been self conscious. About my personality, the way I look and the way I present myself.
But mostly my weight. I’m 5’2”, I’m seventeen years old, and I weigh 98 pounds. Forgive me for feeling like a reject.
But let’s get one thing straight. I am not anorexic. I am not bulimic. I am not a statistic.
Ninety-five percent of all sufferers of eating disorders are women. Ninety-five percent of those with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. 35 percent of dieters progress to pathological dieting. Twenty-five percent of those progress to full syndrome eating disorders.
I’ve always been viewed as a small girl, and I’ve always been accused of having an eating disorder. People force me to eat and to gain weight, when in reality, that’s just not something that my body can do in large amounts. I’ll admit that I’ve been influenced by the media. I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and gone for 8 minute mile runs in the hope that I would look fit.
But the truth is, the media is a body image killer. With the best of intentions, every mother tries to create her daughter’s style from birth, dressing her in dresses and bows. But by the time they reach middle school, those images are out the window and the door is closed.
Distorted by Photoshop and Hollywood editing, young girls are forced into depression, anorexia, and bulimia by their “Role Models”. The body type in advertisements as the ideal body type is possessed naturally by only 5 percent of American females. Forty-seven percent of girls in 5th to 12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures. At such a young age, girls are brain washed into believing there is a perfect body type that everyone should have.
At what age is it considered too young to want to start dieting? Middle school? High school? What about elementary school? Forty-two percent of 1st to 3rd graders want to be thinner. What 50 pound child wants to lose weight? Not even in a world plagued with obesity is that an acceptable age to believe that one is too fat.
Not only the media is responsible for toying with the minds of young girls. Athletes are the group for most at risk for having an eating disorder. Significantly higher rates of eating disorders were found in elite athletes. Roughly 20 percent of all elite athletes have an eating disorder. Female athletes in aesthetic sports like gymnastics are found to be at the highest risk for eating disorders, because girls in judges sports are 13 percent more at risk to develop an eating disorder. Girls who play refereed sports are only 3 percent more at risk.
Well that’s not a surprise. Those who play sports are faced with perfectionism, high self expectations, competitiveness, hyper activity, depression, body image distortion, and pre occupation with dieting and weight.
I play volleyball. I am thrown into a mix where wearing spandex and being under 115 is the normal. Day after day I feel threatened by my teammates.
I feel like an outcast.
Seventeen years old and ninety-eight pounds.
I am strong, I am proud, and I am normal.
But God forbid.
I am not a statistic.