Complicit: We Watch Them Strive For Beauty, For Beauty That Kills

Even elementary kids reckon that human body needs proper fuel to function. However, one in 120 American females is starving.

This fact does not result from poverty, unemployment or disparities in social welfare. It is a consequence of deliberate choices. These women are held hostage by an infamous and pervasive illness, anorexia.

Produced by toxic culture of morbid over-fixation on corporal perfection and rigorous restriction of one’s essential needs, anorexia should not be reduced to individual self-loathing struggles. It is a collective problem that needs a preemptive strike.

We are no aliens here, we should be ready to step in.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), approximately 24 million Americans, and 70 million individuals worldwide suffer from different eating disorders. Anorexia is for sure the most dangerous one.

As a society, we need to realize the unbearable costs of our passivity. Research from the South Carolina Department of Mental Health shows that more than 10 % of anorexics in America die within 10 years after the development of the illness, about 20 % die within 20 years, and only 60 % are reported to have fully recovered.

Taking responsibility for someone’s life is demanding but we can no longer hide behind the cognitive shield of self-comforting ignorance. It is time to recognize that there is likely to be lasting affliction and self-destruction behind the sudden thinness of your friends and relatives. Patients’ determination to hide and nurture their disease renders our active involvement the only sure strategy to provide timely treatment.

Our caution can save lives.

Facebook and Instagram are abundant with pictures of pseudo-fit girls who have sacrificed their health on altar of virtual popularity. “They use popular hashtags, including #gains, #eatclean, and #fitgirls, to offer a distorted perspective on normal body image and eating habits”, said Jordan Younger, a vegan blogger.

How many times have you ‘liked’ a celebrity, looking so skinny that you almost feel urge to feed her? Have you EVER unfollowed?

By supporting those accounts, we consolidate anorexia’s grip over its victims and increase its appeal in eyes of the youth. We should better filter what we promote on the web, and foresee what impact we are unwillingly causing. You are able to understand that those sticking out ribs and tiny wrists do not look healthy. Your little sister, probably, isn’t.

A growing online community of “pro-ana” activists seeks to defend anorexia’s right to existence, urging public to respect the independence of personal choice to limit their food intake. “Anorexia is a lifestyle, not a disease,” said Jade, a 24 years old blogger from UK.

The reasonability of this criticism, which presents social action as infringement on individual freedom, is somewhat questionable. Voluntarily sticking to a certain lifestyle requires not only will and passion but also a conscious mind and rationality, the qualities which anorexics seem to lack. We justify the use of force when preventing suicides: how is anorexia different?

When people are sinking, they scream for help while trying to stay afloat. Anorexics despise any instincts of self-preservation. They never admit they are in trouble. According to ANAD, only 0.1 % of anorexics ask for professional help, while 20 % of those who are not getting treatment – do not survive.

We have no right to condemn these people to fighting their demons alone. We should stay alert and intervene once intimidating signs surface. We should be more attentive during the class discussions, on Facebook forums, in sport clubs, on parties and at home.

Our indifference is their death sentence.

Look into your friends’ eyes, don’t fall prey to the debatable standards of, possibly, homicidal beauty.


[This PSA was created by me earlier and matches the ideas I express in this op-ed]

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