75% of Us Struggle with Food and Body Image and that Sucks
Updated: May 28, 2018
Back in 2009 a survey was done on 4023 women. The resulting study was called Patterns and Prevalence of Disordered Eating and Weight Control Behaviors in Women Ages 25–45 and you can find it here.
The results show a pretty grim state of affairs for most of us women. While we may think that eating disorders are reserved for the few- about 3-4% of people at any given time, disordered eating such as binging, purging, fasting or strict dieting to control weight is all too common for the rest of us.
The study showed that 31% of women have purged (used vomiting, laxatives, or extreme exercising) to control weight, 40% used diet pills, 50% have been dieting since they were 18, and that 2/3 of the women were currently trying to lose weight. Overall, 74.5% of women reported that their concern about shape and weight interfered with their happiness.
In other words, 3 out of 4 of us are kind of depressed because we don't like the number on the scale or how we look in the mirror. Almost 75% of us think about our bodies and how we look so much that we can't feel totally happy about life, and a lot of us try to fix that with dieting or purging, or using pills, but we still end up feeling pretty unhappy. And that sucks.
If being unhappy about our bodies is the norm, then something has to change. And luckily, slowly but surely some things are. I love this initiative from Allure Magazine to ban the term 'anti-aging' in their magazines, acknowledging that the words we use shape the way we feel about ourselves. I also love the Healthy At Every Size movement, which puts weight loss on the back burner, but health, nutrition and exercise at the top. Regardless of your current weight or size, HAES helps people focus on health and wellness before weight loss. Another two great steps have been taken in France that requires magazines to state which images have been retouched, and that fashion models will now need doctors certificates stating that they are healthy before working. “Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behaviour,” health and social affairs minister Marisol Touraine said. Great news. And here in Canada, we're considering banning all advertising of junk foods to kids and teens, following Quebec's lead which has had a similar ban in place since 1980.
You see, the fact that 75% of us feel depressed about our bodies is not our fault. Society has handed us false ideals of what we should look like and what shape we should be, and at the same time has allowed harmful fake foods to become the norm, through advertising and marketing, seeped, by now, into many generations. With 'ideal' bodies on one side, and addictive processed foods on the other, it's no fault of our own that we're in a tough spot.
When we take the personal-ness out of our circumstances, we can step back and take the wide view. We're being fooled. It's up to us to cut through the BS, focus on health over weight, and look to new role models. Or better yet, join a movement, cut the crap food, eat more plants, ditch your scale, find what makes you happy, find your purpose, make peace with food, and become a role model for others. And if you need it, I'm here to help.