Self Image Epidemic

Rachel Mills

Anorexia, bulimia and obesity seem like polar opposites when in fact, they all combine to fuel a growing problem among college students in relation to their eating habits and lifestyle.

A person hoping to change their body type and image should consider the truth of obtaining the body that they want and if it is a reasonable goal to achieve through a healthy diet and exercise. In reality, there are only a handful of men and women who naturally possess the media based concept of beauty. At the same time, Sona Donayan, a GCC Culinary Arts instructor that teaches students about health and nutrition, said that only a few people can actually try to tone their bodies to the body image that they desire.

“A healthy woman is considered to be a woman who is measured 5 feet and 6 inches and weighs approximately 135 pounds,” said Isela Shavira, a dietetic intern from Cal-Poly Pomona. She also said that a man who is 5 feet and 10 inches tall and weighs between 142 to 152 pounds is considered healthy as well.

Recently, certain countries have begun to cater to a more realistic body image. Last year, Spain banned dangerously thin models from a runway in Madrid, claiming that the government wanted to give their country a more positive and healthier image. However, that seems nearly impossible to enforce in America.

More shows such as “America’s Next Top Model,” “The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency” and “The Agency” send the wrong message out to high school and college men and women. The people shown in these episodes burn an image that others should aspire to accomplish and be.

“The media tells girls they should be very skinny, with perfect hair and airbrushed skin,” said GCC student Sterling Hirsh. “They present a retouched photo, which ends up being close to a drawing in terms of realism to the reader or viewer in the context of it being an ideal.”

There are college men and women are diagnosed with eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, in order to reach that body image. Anorexics believe that they are overweight and see a distorted image when they look into a mirror. Often times they will go to extreme methods as in consuming inadequate amounts of food with excessive exercises regiments in order to see improvement. People who are bulimic will have the same symptoms as an anorexic, but they will also go as far as self-induced vomiting or abusing the use of laxatives to lose weight.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, there are those who are considered to be obese because of their genetic make up, eating habits or their active lifestyle. Soft drinks and fast food companies are adding to this upcoming epidemic of obesity.

The government and other organizations have tried to combat this with their own campaigns. Even in the past, the Los Angeles County School District removed vending machines from school grounds so that they could promote a healthier lifestyle.

Eating right and exercising is the part of the overall solution to the weight problems that students may experience. Students could also utilize the resources here on campus by taking a physical fitness or nutritional class to benefit their needs. Chavira said that exercising between 30 minutes to an hour should be enough to produce better results.

“A gradual change is something you can’t expect from someone who has a terrible habit in eating and no exercise to change overnight. It takes one step at the time,” said Donayan.