“I believe the children are our future.” That was the famous line from Whitney Houston’s classic recording “Greatest Love Of All.” Well, today The Telegraph quotes an expert who says that some children don’t care about their future or health.
According to statistics released by thirty-five NHS hospitals in England, over 2,100 children — ages ranging from 13 to 15, with 98 five to seven-year-olds — are admitted to care for eating disorders. Experts are blaming celebrity culture for celebrating extreme thinness, but one hospital says the media has nothing to do with it.
The 35 NHS reports were released after a Freedom of Information request. The Telegraph reports that most of the UK hospitals would not disclose figures about how many children were admitted to wards, driving speculation that the figures are even higher.
Susan Ringwood, chief executive of eating disorders charity B-eat said the figures reflected alarming trends in society, with young children “internalizing” messages from celebrity magazines, which idealized the thinnest figures.
With stories of childhood obesity on the rise, along with 24-7 celeb-reality shows, it’s hard to discount what Susan Ringwood says about the effects of celebrity culture on children’s impressionable minds:
“A number of factors combine to trigger eating disorders; biology and genetics play a large part in their development, but so do cultural pressures, and body image seems to be influencing younger children much more over the past decade.” says Ringwood.
Jezebel thinks there might be more than meets the eye with this story, though:
Perhaps children aren’t specifically citing distorted Ralph Lauren ads in their reasons for developing issues with food, but it’s hard to imagine that there’s no connection between an increase in the number of children with eating disorders and society’s emphasis on thinness.
But let’s not forget that most of the Western culture images are determined by men and their fantasies of what they want women to be. Yes, women participate in their own oppression, but, overwhelmingly, men plant the seeds for this disfunction in children, not only women. The ideal figure is set by men and backed up by women who rationalize their oppression by claiming that they’re ability to earn money and gain notoriety is worth the mental and physical abuse.
“The ideal figure promoted for women these days is that of a girl, not an adult women. Girls see the pictures in magazines of extremely thin women and think that is how they should be.
“That can leave them fearful of puberty, and almost trying to stave it off.”
Most product makers, who sell their products to women exclusively, don’t take these externalities in to account, but maybe they don’t care. Women starving themselves are not on the radar of most companies.
FrugiVoice: What do you think about children and eating disorders? Are young girls losing their grip reality?