Fashion Illnesses : Generation Y Struggles

As I stepped on the scale this morning, I knew something was wrong. As my feet reached the measuring tool, I felt a thrilling excitement at the idea of seeing a small number appearing on the scale, which was mixed with the menacing anxiety of seeing a number higher than usual. As unhealthy and perturbing as this feeling sounds, it is a common feeling amongst the majority of Generation Y. Indeed, a lot of pressure is put on young people to achieve a great body and an attractive physique these days due to the humongous emphasis society puts on body image.

Even though Millennials acknowledge the harmful dangers of social media, content surrounding body image can be triggering and very destructive. Since Gen Y has been raised in conditions where advanced technology was omnipresent and fancied, they possess highly computer literacy aptitudes. However, these capacities might lead them to dangerously unhealthy paths. Indeed, advertising, media, entertainment, beauty and fashion industries send messages to the population saying we must look thin and flawless. In fact, studies have found that Facebook use can trigger eating disorders and lead to poorer self-esteem, which asserts that the rise of social media has definitely aggravated the situation. Furthermore, for example, Tumblr and instagram accounts as well as personal blogs stressing content celebrating extreme thinness such as “Thinspiration” and “ProAna”, which stands for Pro-Anorexia, are used as deceptively motivational messages. Hence, the media has a significant role in developing amongst Gen Y an obsession with body image that is strongly associated with anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating and other damaging eating disorders and mental illnesses.

Eating disorders are atrociously common, affecting more than 300 000 Canadians, both male and female. This number is estimated to be double the number of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, combined. While eating disorders affect people without discrimination, According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “90% of eating disorders begin between the ages of 18 to 35” (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml). Furthermore, 35% of college students develop eating disorders. Overwhelmed by social media and highly influenced by advertisement, Gen Y is the most affected generation in terms of body image and self-confidence. Many factors contribute to the development of eating disorders such as excessive dieting, low self-esteem, depression, body dissatisfaction, bullying, weight consciousness and even genetics. As many college students try to cope with radical life changes such as going to college and the ceaseless stress caused by school might trigger eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, “the number of people suffering from eating disorders has grown since 1950 with 20 million women suffering nationwide” (www.nedic.ca). Actually, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness with an estimation of 10 to 20% of individuals diagnosed dying prematurely as a direct result of anorexia nervosa or bulimia. In fact, females with anorexia nervosa aged between 15 to 24 have a mortality rate twelve times higher than any other cause of death.

Besides, February 22nd to 28th commemorates National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. With London Fashion Week going strong since Friday, an awareness blog post on body image, health and self-esteem couldn’t be more opportune. Millenials grew up watching award shows and beauty pageants and were raised comparing themselves to models in magazines and actors on television. Little do they know is that these models were photoshoped and these actresses represent only 1% of our population. Since a few years, the fashion and modeling industries have been criticized for promoting eating disorders and unhealthy body images. According to Samantha Chang, Celebrity Fitness and Health Examiner, in a desperate attempt to suppress their empty stomachs, “runway models follow starvation diets, chain-smoke and abuse diet pills and laxative” (www.examiner.com/article/model-details-extreme-dieting-smoking-drug-use-ahead-of-new-york-fashion-week). These morbidly skinny girls are doing whatever it takes to achieve the lean look favored and put forth by the fashion industry. These radical and harmful behaviors strongly influence young adults since they are especially vulnerable to the fashion industry. As it stands, according to the NEDIC, up to 57 percent of adolescent and young girls “experiment with crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives” in order to reach the utterly constructed and falsified ideal beauty that is puts forth by the fashion industry (www.nedic.ca).

Working and studying in the fashion industry myself, I am very concerned and affected by the propaganda of tremendously high beauty standards. Since I am a young woman, it is hard for me to cope with all the pressure of looking perfectly toned and flawlessly beautiful while contributing to the cruel values of the industry. All of this has led me to wonder if the fashion industry unconsciously exposes you to eating disorders and mental illnesses. Therefore, does the pursuit of high fashion jeopardize your healthy lifestyles?

12 responses to “Fashion Illnesses : Generation Y Struggles

  1. I’m shocked that the fashion industry is still using girls who look ill. Being naturally thin is one thing, but someone looking like they may pass out any second due to malnourishment is another. Beautiful post lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jenna for your nice words. I really appreciate you took the time to read my article and leave a comment. What is outraging is the fact that the fashion industry encourages unhealthy lifestyles, malnourishment and starvation through the use of extremely thin models. It gives the wrong impression to our society, making us believe that beauty is only achieve through sickness. The industry should showcase healthy models with different body types.

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  2. Such a great post. I constantly have to tell everyone that they are beautiful and they should love their own body. The models on the runways are not good role models for this generation. I have seen 12 year olds diet to look like a runway model, and I find it sad. That’s why I try to be a role model for those who are into fashion. I’m not extremely skinny, nor am I a big girl. I’m an average woman and I try to set a good example for this generation as a part time model.

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    • Thank you very much Nicole. It is honorable and respectful of you to contribute to the industry by working as a model, while trying to inspire young ladies and teach them body diversity. This is a subject that I relate strongly too since I have been struggling with body image issues for years due to the omnipresence of media in today’s society. It is actually hard to accept and embrace your body when there is only one specific body type (lean and ultra skinny) that is portrayed on various media platforms. We need diversity in advertisement and movies in order for your girls to be able to relate to role models. Take care darling xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Welcome dear! I want to show the young adults and teens to love their bodies. I had dealt with anorexia during my freshman year of high school. But a friend had figured out what I was doing and helped me have a better relationship with my body and with food. I love food šŸ™‚
        I do wish that we had more of good body shape range on the media platforms. That will promote healthy body imagery.
        If you ever want to work on something together (writing, fashion, other platforms), just let me know. Take care dear, xo!
        Loni Nicole

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi dear Loni! I am very sorry you had to go through severe eating disorder at such a young age. You should be very proud you were able to overcome this bravely. I must admit that even though I L.O.V.E food, I struggled with the concept of it for a long time. I would be more than happy to collaborate with you at anytime. Here is my email address : noemie_vallieres@hotmail.com and my Facebook: NoĆ©mie ValliĆØres so we can discuss more. Take care xox
        NoƩmie

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      • Hi NoĆ©mie! I think at some point everyone deals with this sort of thing. I think it has to do with the society that we currently live in. I am glad that I overcame the situation. Throughout the rest of my high school career, I ended up projecting a healthy body image for all of the other students because I didn’t want them to endure the same thing that I went through. I am going to send you a message to both.
        Take care, xox
        Loni

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      • Hi NoĆ©mie! I think at some point everyone deals with this sort of thing. I think it has to do with the society that we currently live in. I am glad that I overcame the situation. Throughout the rest of my high school career, I ended up projecting a healthy body image for all of the other students because I didn’t want them to endure the same thing that I went through. I am going to send you a message to both.
        Take care, xox!
        Loni

        Like

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    Like

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