Superficial industries are responsible for students developing eating disorders

A society driven on looks makes eating disorder awareness even more vital

Living in a society that is heavily influenced by the media has several drawbacks, some of which can be extremely detrimental to students' health. 

Hollywood and advertising agencies have been ridiculed for decades about the airbrushed advertisement images they put out. In fact, they have been so deceiving that the United Kingdom banned Julia Roberts' infamous L’Oreal advertisement for being “misleading” and potentially promoting body image issues.

It is important to identify these issues because if students do not establish self acceptance early on, negative thoughts may turn into unhealthy habits that cannot be easily reversed.

However, this issue is far more severe than just a couple of makeup companies attempting to get away with airbrushing ads; this is an entire industry typecasting its stars and forcing us to buy into one standard of beauty. 

The problem delves into the harsh reality that even the cover girl models that work out, follow strict meal plans and have dietitians for a living still do not entirely resemble their cover after retouches are made. Yet, we still expect ourselves to resemble them without the help of Photoshop.

Selling an idea of beauty that makes students feel vulnerable and unobtainable is a smart marketing gimmick to make consumers buy their products, but it can promote unhealthy eating habits and help develop body dysmorphic disorder.

Research conducted in 2001 showed that a high percentage of students had developed a distorted body image prior to entering college, which contrasted the pre-existing idea that body image issues developed later on.  

According to the Walden Center, roughly five to 20 percent of college female students and one to seven percent of male college students suffer from clinical eating disorders. 

Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. However, some argue that they garner the least amount of attention.

“I’ve noticed eating disorders haven’t really been talked about. Like any mental health issue, they can be triggered when you enter college if you had one in the past or one can start up just from all the stress,” Madison DeHaven, president of the Proud2Bme chapter at ASU and senior studying nutrition, said.

Proud2Bme is a national organization associated with the National Eating Disorder Association.

“Don’t be afraid to seek advice," DeHaven said. "It’s not a shameful thing to have an eating disorder or body image issues or body dysmorphia. More people have it than you think, and a lot of people are very willing to help you get through that, and you can get through that.” 

Many universities such as ASU provide on-campus resources for eating disorders that are accessible online and in person. 

ASU also celebrates “Body Pride” for a week every February to promote body positivity and celebrate National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

It is important to raise awareness about eating disorders because they are complex medical conditions that can severely damage someone physically and emotionally. Even if one begins to recover, it does not mean they will not relapse, so it is important to show support if you know someone struggling.

American Eagle’s Aerie launched a revolutionary campaign in 2014, combatting body image issues. 

The lingerie and apparel company decided to stop airbrushing their models, which includes touching up tattoos and covering stretch marks, dimples, beauty marks and fat

The campaign was well received and the company experienced 20 percent growth in 2015 showing that it pays to be body positive.

Aerie has only taken a small step in dispelling body image issues, but hopefully untouched ads become the norm and body diversity begins to find its way into our day-to-day lives.

You can reach the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. 

Reach the columnist at or follow @hncumber on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.Want to join the conversation? 

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