Dangerous New Trend Treasure Valley Parents Should Be Aware Of
This is scary stuff. The power of the internet is strong these days and this dangerous new social media trend is encouraging teens to starve themselves to fit in.
It's a subject that really strikes a nerve in me. I battled anorexia nervosa and bulimia for seven years. It started when I was just 12 years old. As a seventh grader, I didn't feel like I fit in, couldn't garner any attention from guys, and I became obsessed with waif-like models that seemed to "have it all." Kate Moss was my idol. She stood 5'7" and only weighed 98 lbs.
Gone are the days where parents only have to worry about magazine covers and cliques at school influencing their teenager's delicate minds. Now Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube are reaching our children with a click of a button.
In this dangerous new social media trend targeting teens, it glamorizes women and teens who are extremely thin.
According to KTVB, it's called the pro-anorexia or the pro-ana movement. There are websites offering "tips" on being anorexic and inaccurate information about weight and weight loss.
A documentary about the pro-anorexia movement is out there and Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are all flooded with girls desperate to be thin.
All of this provides support and connection for people battling this deadly mental illness and it's attacking younger and younger children. Some kids as young as five-years-old are obsessed with their weight and body image.
One important thing for parents to understand, and I learned this through my own battle with anorexia is that it is usually never truly about the food, it's about a way to cope with emotional turmoil and a way for them to control their life.
Don't be naive in thinking that this dangerous disorder only affects woman and young girls. Teenage boys and men can also be affected by eating disorders. I've had to watch my twelve-year-old son closely. As a very self-conscious pre-teen, he has become a bit too fixated on going to the gym, building muscle, and eating "healthy."
I would encourage parents who are dieting to never glamourize that with your kids and avoid talking badly about your own physical appearance. I know I got into dieting in part because I saw the grown women that I looked up to dieting and I thought it seemed cool.
Experts say to pay attention to any changes in your child's behavior such as eating patterns, exercise habits, and their attitude towards social media.
Also, keep in mind that you can't tell if a person has an eating disorder just by looking at someone.
If you think your child has a problem with their relationship with food please visit The National Eating Disorder website for resources on how you can help your child.
I would also be more than happy to be a resource if you need to chat with someone who has been there and has come out on the other side. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.