There has been a sharp rise in the incidents of children being admitted into hospital for Anorexia. The most startling thought to comprehend is the ages of the youngest children, being 5 years old. What information is fed to a 5 year old that then translates into the need to transmute not just the mind but also the body? Yes, we should all know by now the impact of sexualizing children through the media, but yet the numbers of children ending up with an eating disorder continues to rise.
There is a no longer a disparity between the numbers of children who are considered over-weight and receiving just as much condescending remarks based on poor parenting. Does this mean that poor parenting is equally responsible for the opposite that is anorexic children?
I do not wholly feel that parents are to blame; parents are only represents a small nugget of a child’s informational platform. Parents are up against the strong pull of the media that strikes a pose on how and what people should be aspiring to. It was just recently that Miley Cyrus was under the scrutiny due to her drastic metamorphosis from young girl to ‘sexy’ female. In some publications, Miley was heralded as creating a ‘grown up’ figment of her former self. In others, she was criticized for negatively influencing her young followers. Miley too was victim to the Beauty Myth that is to be seen as attractive to be accepted. What was worrying however, in Miley’s case was her resultant behavior was largely ignored rendering hurtful comments on her or sending a larger than large message that her body is key to her success.
So if, as a child especially females, what messages are you receiving when you follow idols such as Miley? Charlotte Church done exactly the same to remove the ‘little-girl’ position she sat in for many years. Rhianna, Beyonce, Britney et al all have young followers yet parade gratuitously enhancing the ‘sex’ aspect of their gender. Yet parents scramble to get their children tickets to see their idols live. It is a sure win for the concept of ‘build it and they will come’ ethos for companies operating their puppeteers. So whilst, I do not wholly blame parents for the rising numbers of emotionally troubled children, they do participate to the degradation of their children’s emotional health. How feasible is it for parents to remove their child from society in order to protect their fragile minds? Parents should take some responsibility in the sense that instead of ‘joining the masses,’ they should forge a ‘will not be tolerated’ underpinning to force companies using and abusing not just the celebrities but also their followers. People do not recognize how much buying power they really do possess. If the argument is ‘well, everyone is doing it, so how can I not’ then who is this ‘everyone’ and who is following whom?
There are websites dedicated to ‘thinspiration’ with encouraging tricks to defend against the need for a balance diet. Catwalk models strutting their bony figures in alluring fashion, celebrities convincing themselves that their bulging eyes are somehow attractive. These are just some of the reasons what parents are fighting against in protecting their normally developing child. The traditional definition of normal does not fit in with societies reclaimed definition, as there is no definition. The Beauty Myth is just that, a myth. The concept of beauty as defined by society does not exist. So what people usually strive for does not exist. Yet, children are now getting in on the act, they are now focusing their young minds on how they translate information gained from their wider world, which is to be stick-like, unhealthy and emotionally pained. This is where I do blame parents as they have more than they realize power to re-educate their children but how can they? How are parents, especially mothers able to educate their children when these same mothers fall prey to the same predatory guises? These same mothers are prey to the Beauty Myth.
The Telegraph reported that in 2010/11, 6,500 children and teenagers received treatment due to anorexia, a rise from 1,718 in 2007/8. However, this figure does not represent the true numbers of children and teenagers because some were turned away, not considered ‘at death’s door’ enough. So what do you think that message sends to the young person? ‘I know! Let me go home and starve myself some more to be accepted as worthy.’ The mere fact that there is a problem on this scale for young people means that something is terribly wrong. It should not simply be a case of, ‘well, you’re just not sick enough although I can see you’re sick so I cannot do anything for you.’ What are we waiting for, inches from death? If a child is in that position, right there is a problem! It is not acceptable when a grown person feels so wretched about who they are but it should ring alarms bells when the person is so young. What will be the catalyst for change because children and teenagers are already dying from this affliction?
Let us imagine the thoughts and feelings of a child in the depths of despair that they play with their health with such fear. We already know what the behaviors look like, so what about examining the thoughts?
It may go something like this:
When I look in the mirror, I do not look like others, I do not feel like others. I am weird. My body is not normal, the things that are happening to me, is not happening to others. Why am I so unhappy when many aren’t? I must be a freak of nature.
If I could just look like all my friends, I will be happy. If I could just lose some weight, then I will be happy. If my eyes were symmetrical, I would feel better. If my arms were skinnier, I would feel better. If my bum was pert, I would feel better. If my legs were toned, I would feel better. If I were just prettier, I would feel better.
If I just weren’t me, I would feel better.
Society tells us with every image they use, with every person they use, with every product they use to inform us what we should look like. They use magazines aimed at children to start the process of unhealthy indoctrination. The information used is not rich in nature, but nurture. We are being nurtured into something that does not exist, that is not natural. We are being groomed to fill the purses of conglomerate companies. We are prey to these predators. Our esteem levels are based on the next fad, the next great thing that will make us happier. Our longings are based on the voice of others. We heed to their words. So what if when throwing the net, a few sunken souls get caught and die. We can all live with that, right? As long as we survive the net, that should be all right.
What if it was your child, your precious baby who had got caught, would you then sit up and take notice? An ant cannot move mountains alone but if working with his crew, then movement happens. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye and allow our children to become suspects in these large companies out to make more money out of people’s misery. Nor is it enough to work in isolated pockets trying to educate your own children. We must work together to stop violations to our children. Every industry must work together; maybe not all at the same time but the status quo must be one of protection of our children. It is only this method that will prevent the over-exposure and abuse of children’s mind.
Children are not emotionally mature enough to make better-informed decisions for themselves. Nature did not make us this way; it is down to us all to protect children until they are old enough to take care of themselves. Children should not be exposed to adult content and let’s face it, even adults are falling under the weight for acceptance. The Beauty Myth is real yet paradoxically fictitious and for something that is borne out of a messed up ideology, the devastation is unparalleled.
What will you do?
My name is Marcea Hibbert-Roye, qualified Social Worker and Life Coach. My specialism is developing emotional awareness in females.
If you are a parent who is struggling with a pre or pubescent female, Safe Space Access offers tools to support initiating conversations to better understand therefore support your child with growing up. We have a range of cards that can be used to initiate and stimulate conversations for females especially supporting them through challenging experiences. These cards also reminds the female that she is worth it!
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