It is too often that a male or female looks in the mirror and they only judge themselves off of what that one piece of information conveys. They let body image solely depict what their self-worth is. This mental representation we create can distort reality for many. Bringing attention to body image, everyone especially teenagers are growing into their bodies that they will keep for the rest of their lives. I believe body image strongly influences behavior and self-esteem that may or may not lead to a depression. It is not uncommon to hear teenagers going into a depression for the starting reason of weight gain or loss and therefore creating other problems including anorexia, bulimia, or depression.
Body image has not always been a major problem that we as humans have faced. I believe it is the emphasis of unrealistic views we have about celebrities, models, and human distortions, that drives this force to a negative force. With this aspect combined with the increase in human weight due to fast food, food production, and genetic composition, we find ourselves getting “fatter” when society what's us to be “skinnier”. It is important to solve this problem for many reasons. The first is when people have a negative body image this creates stress in their lives and therefore brains. This stress and strife create depression that is unnecessary and many do not seek treatment. The next reason is due to health risks and fatalities. Body image can be so bad that death can arise. According to National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 24 million male and female of all ages suffer from this disorder. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
I believe awareness is key. Bringing awareness can filter in prevention, treatment, and recovery. One may not even know they have this illness and making them see their struggle in a new way can help. We must start bringing awareness at a young age and show them why negative body image should not matter.
For my prevention proposal, I would like to bring awareness to a middle school and high school and talk to them weekly. I will pick St.Thomas Aquinas middle school and St. Pius high school. I would like to see and talk to people of all ages but mainly female teenagers and young adults who live a healthy lifestyle and have a healthy mind. This resonates with me because I could easily be one of these girls where prevention can make a difference. Negative body image can keep a person down for years and stop them from doing things they love and finding happiness. This is my motivator.
To prevent this distortion of body image, they can share their thoughts and feelings and we can share information. There will be 15 educated preventers. These preventers will be taught how to teach other about depression, anorexia, bulimia and other aspects of body image. The educated preventers will stay with the same people as the year goes on. They will each have 10 students. We will also have another middle school and high school where we do not meet with them weekly. The middle school and high school will be Albuquerque Academy. The educated preventers will only meet at the beginning and end of this trial. All students will write a paper about how they see themselves at the beginning of the school year. Then we will have them write a finalized version at the end. This will show us how they personally see themselves and feel. Then, once a week the dependent group will be talked with, given information about anorexia, bulimia, and depression, and how to prevent this. Since there is no known way to prevent anorexia or bulimia therefore knowing the early signs and seeking treatment can prevent complications. I believe that the students who were not spoken with will have a higher percentage of an eating disorder or depression.
After some research and brainstorming I have thought of aspects to talk to the students about. This will make the prevention plausible because we will be able to use concrete concepts with the students. The educators will first start off being a positive role model. They can look at their own beliefs and think about their feelings about food and weight, being fat and being thin and the ways that one should cope with stressful situations. They can express positive image by commenting on positive aspects about their body. Also, commenting on all emotions about their body and what can be done to fix or come to terms. The next aspect the educators should teach is the students should have a healthy relationship with food. Eating well-balanced non-restrictive meals and snacks when one is hungry. Eating foods that one enjoys and stop eating until you are full. They should touch on considering all foods “good food” because all food contains energy and nutrients to fuel your activities. Positive affirmations are a great idea too. Showing people you believe and encouraging other to do the same is a great way to prevent negative body image. Lastly, they can learn aspects about working out, staying healthy and having fun while doing this. Once these aspects have been taught and attained, the students can verbalize the warning signs and detection of disordered eating. They can be taught about the Female Athlete Triad and other aspects about athlete body issues. Many more aspects will be taught and the students will be able to ask questions they have.
There are many ways we can use methods that have proven to work and incorporate them into this prevention. Beardslee had a cognitive behavior program which consisted of 8 weekly 90-minute group sessions followed by 6 monthly continuation sessions. Adolescents were randomly assigned to either the CBP program or usual care. As a result, youths in the CBP condition had significantly fewer onsets of depressive episodes compared with those in UC. Like Beardslee we can use the hands on communication with these students. We can keep a journal and keep communication strong by telling them it is okay to talk out loud about their thoughts and feelings. Also, like Monidrome, we must give a detailed correct idea of what to expect or manage. Monidorme states that “depression can cause weight gain” and therefore I believe can filter a distorted body image. According to Monidrome the symptoms of depression can include depressed mood, loss of ability to feel pleasure, social withdrawal, poor concentration, sleep disturbances, appetite disturbances, constipation, fatigue, and headaches. All of these symptoms can add to the frustration of the distorted body image and add to anorexia and bulimia. This research that we gain from seeing the different groups will prove if prevention does work. A complete evaluation will be filled out by both groups, the dependent and independent group. They will all write a journal entry describing how they feel and what they think about their bodies at the end. This will be cross correlated and researched. Then I will mark the journals as improved on a scale of one to ten. This will then permit me to create a line graph to show the correlation between where the people are in terms of body image.
In conclusion, I believe that body image and ideas for a person will always change. Our bodies change, mind changes, and life in general will change. Teaching these children the basics of all is the key to prevent any issues they may see in the future. Knowing the facts and signs of depression is extremely beneficail because when one sees this they can act quickly and find treatment immediatly.
"ANAD." Bulimia Nervosa « National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014.
Beardslee, WR. "Prevention of Depression in At-risk Adolescents: Longer-term Effects." (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
"Eating Disorders." KidsHealth. Ed. Michelle New. The Nemours Foundation, 01 Jan. 2011. Web. 24 July 2014.