“I’m going on a diet!” means a very different thing when you hear it come out of your 10 year olds mouth. It’s ridiculous to think a child would start dieting – but over 80% of ten year olds are afraid of being fat according to The Park Nicollet Melrose Center. But it doesn’t stop with ten year olds, around 30% of 10-14 year olds are actively dieting and most of them are using unhealthy methods like fasting and laxative abuse to control their weight.
Where do these messages come from? Why are kids so concerned with their body image? According to a study done by Loma Linda University, the media plays the largest role in conveying the messages of “thin ideal.” Thin ideal is a concept that describes the need to be skinny to conform to western society beauty standards.
It’s becoming a serious problem that so many adolescents are concerned with their weight because body image issues can lead to depression and eating disorders says MentalHealthUK. Social media, magazines, and television programs need to stop portraying unrealistic body standards so younger kids realize that they don’t need to be deathly thin to be beautiful. “94% of women’s magazines feature a thin model on the front page,” says Loma Lima. And it’s widely known the images are altered to make them more appealing. Another study done by King University says, out of 1000 participants, “87% of women compare their bodies to ones they see online.” Young minds are very vulnerable to receiving messages put on the media that convey the desire to be thin. It may start as a diet but soon it can become an obsession with food and calories. And it only gets worse.
The more concerned you are with your body at a young age, the worse you will feel when you are older because the habits and thoughts will stick. Images online are already so over edited and it’s important that people realize that it’s unrealistic. It’s time the media stops promoting ideal body types and instead teach that body size does not play a factor in your self worth.