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Can Social Media Encourage Eating Disorders?

Jaclyn Hughes

Remember back in the 80’s and 90’s when fashion and teen magazines were all the rage? They were often blamed as the source for encouraging millions of teens and children around the world to develop eating disorders as a result of seeing so many extremely thin models gracing the pages. Models like Kate Moss for example caught a ton of bad press for her weight and size, and many similarly blamed the fashion industry as a whole for putting these types of impossible body images out into the universe to idolize. Fast forward to 2016, and now its social media catching all of the heat.

The Indian Express reported that researchers have recently suggested those who have excessive use of social media platforms have an increased risk of developing an eating disorder. Bulimia, anorexia, binge eating, and so forth are often caused by images that many feel are simply unattainable. Take the popular editing software, “Photoshop”, where you can essentially make someone look as perfect as possible with a few clicks. The issue is, most kids and teens don’t consider that nearly every single image of a model they see on social media or in magazines has been retouched. It’s scary to think young people presume what they see is what they get, and then try to immolate these fake body images in real life.

Participants in the social media study were noted as having 2.2% higher chances of developing an eating disorder as a result of trying to propagate images they saw online. This risk is especially nerving for parents of tween aged girls from 10-13, as they appear to be the ones really honing in on the body image trend. It is encouraged by eating disorder specialists that parents discuss healthy body images with their children. If you suspect your child is suffering from any form of eating disorder, please get help immediately by a physician or counselor as these issues can be fatal if left untreated.

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