Column: Society’s unfair standards for body image cause harm

Gillian Eubanks

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 28.8 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. They also found that eating disorders are some of the deadliest mental illnesses next to opioid overdoses.

Many people who struggle with body image issues or an eating disorder also struggle with the stigmas that come with it. Sayings similar to “just eat” or “it’s all in your head” are only a couple of the stigmas that people who suffer from EDs, or eating disorders, have to face. That doesn’t even include the feelings of shame and disgust that come with having an ED.

A huge part of why eating disorders are so prevalent is society’s image of the “perfect body.” For women, it seems like our bodies are just objects. For example, from the 1960s-2000s being extremely thin and long-legged was the perfect body type for women. Now, the hourglass figure seems to be the most popular body type for women. These standards are forced on us through social media.

Of course, there are women who naturally have these body types, but not every woman is built that way. And I am not a hater on plastic surgery because it’s really no one’s business who does what with their body.

What I will say though, is that society’s image of a “perfect body” hurts and even kills people. People are seeing what is deemed as attractive by society, and seeing that they don’t match that image, so they attempt everything within their ability to fit that image. This can possibly lead to depression, an eating disorder, low self-esteem and even suicide.

There is nothing wrong with eating healthy or regularly exercising for the betterment of one’s health. But there is something toxic with doing these things to achieve a “perfect” body.

Perfection doesn’t exist and beauty looks different to everyone. We are made the way we are for a reason. It is okay to have a belly, a small waist, large thighs, small thighs or hip dips. It is okay because these things do not define you. We are far more than our bodies. We have to find a way to love ourselves and embrace who we are even if it doesn’t fit society’s terms.

We also have to express gratitude towards ourselves. Gratitude towards our legs for taking us all the places we’ve been, gratitude towards our hands for holding our loved ones’ hands, or gratitude towards our mouths for tasting all the wonderful food we have tasted.

It’s not easy, but working towards loving yourself today gets you one day closer to loving yourself than you were yesterday.


Gillian Eubanks is a junior health communication major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]