We live in an interesting time. Everywhere we look, we see messages about what is normal, healthy, ugly, beautiful, unrefined, or acceptable. What better way to see this demonstrated than in our world’s ever-changing standards of beauty and health? What is the average person supposed to do with the conflicting messages we see day in and day out, and what is one to do if they do not “fit” into the mold that they feel they “should.”
Body image has long been considered a hot button issue, and most people naturally equate body image to weight and size. This in no way determines someone’s worth or value, even though we place a high level of approval behind what we look like and the size clothes we wear. What may emerge from this mentality is in some cases a genuine personal care and energy towards creating a healthy lifestyle, but for others it can lead to an obsessive focus on diet, exercise, and weight. That obsessive focus for all too many people can then lead to disordered eating and exercise habits, leading to very real problems in life. Disordered eating can be strongly related to psychological difficulties such as anxiety, perfectionism, and a need to feel in control, as well as other biological factors, such as a family history of eating disorders, a history of dieting, or type 1 diabetes. Research indicates that the average age of onset for disordered eating is 11 years old with at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffering from an eating disorder in the U.S. Eating disorders affect all races and ethnic groups and have the highest mortality rate of all mental health diagnoses. If you or someone you love may be experiencing difficulties surrounding food, educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of disordered eating.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures, and access to quality care. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please reach to NEDA by calling (800) 931-2237 or text N.E.D.A at 741741. You may also contact your Ohio State Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at or 800-678-6265 or EAP@osumc.edu for more resources.