Why Eating Disorders are on the rise – Michelle Sparkes

Why Eating Disorders are on the rise

Two unrelated articles stirred my mind this week. One by journalist Brian McNair from University of Technology Queensland, about “terror going viral” where he explores some of the downside of our interconnectedness via Internet and social media.

The other, by the National Eating Disorder Collaboration interviewing Prof Susan Paxton about the rising prevalence of eating disorders in Australia. She says there’s no one particular cause but points to the interplay of genetic, socio-environmental factors and increased “pressure on appearance” for both males and females.

For mcropped-iStock_000001017387Medium-5.jpge the two come together when I think of the proliferation and ready accessibility of images that disturb, assault and violate the sacredness of human life (think ISIS world stage) think hard core porn (closer to home). You might wonder how I tie ‘porn’ with ‘appearance pressure’ but basically I think the images sold to young people (as desirable) in popular culture today are overwhelmingly hypersexualised and objectifying. Young boys groomed by porn culture want “porn sex” with young girls. The pointy end of porn is violent and violating and objectifying in the extreme. It is not a friend of love and relationships and things that build internal and relational security.

And this is the connect. Images of violence on the world stage and closer to home – a street in Syria, a bedroom in Pornland, a man beheaded, a woman violated – a click away on any device 24/7 – leave a person feeling vulnerable in their world; and vulnerable in their skin.

I felt these vulnerabilities as a young girl journeying through adolescence into anorexia. Those days were tamer than the ones in which the images proliferate now. This I believe is at the heart of the rising prevalence of eating disorders, disordered eating and other ways anxiety and insecurity manifest in our personal space and world. Images that violate, assault and devalue life and people.

So much more to more to say on all the above, but what about you? What do you think?

@mp_sparkes  michelle@michellesparkes.com

About the Author

Michelle is a physiotherapist and professional counsellor with lived experience of anorexia, EDNOS and binge-eating in her teen and early adult years. Founder of Women Worth their Weight, and author of Illuminating Anorexia Michelle is passionate about helping people recover from these health and life consuming problems.