Across Merseyside a growing number of primary school aged children have been hospitalised due to eating disorders in the last year.
Whilst many of the figures from the NHS are concealed to protect patient confidentiality, it is believed that among the 531 people admitted in 2017/18 there has been at least one boy under the age of 10.
Another 72 children between the ages 10-18 have been admitted.
The reasoning behind the increasing number of young people hospitalised due to eating disorders is complex, however it is widely accepted that the influence of social media can be partly to blame.
For many the pressure to look good on social media is constant. Hundreds of accounts showing ‘perfect’ models with glamorous lives is giving many young girls warped views on reality. It is more common than not for Instagram photos to be edited.
One account named ‘Beauty.false’ on Instagram was set up with the purpose of exposing celebrities and influencer’s in an attempt to show just how distorted beauty standards have become.
Liverpool student Niamh Davies had an impressive 12.4k followers on Instagram when she decided the pressure to constantly post ‘flawless’ photos to the site was affecting her mental health.
In an interview Niamh told us that:
“Social media is such a massive thing these days, everyone is on it, but for some reason I allowed Instagram to determine my self worth, I allowed virtual likes on my photos and wether I had enough likes to make me feel pretty and validated, for ages i allowed Instagram to control my life, it was almost like a drug to me, I subconsciously found myself clicking on the app on my phone and spending hours and hours just scrolling and scrolling through unrealistic representations of beauty and young women, it’s honestly soul destroying, id see photos of girls, skinny, toned, perfect face proportion and I would then go and look in the mirror and use my hands to move my face and press my nose in to try and feel prettier, I created an image in my head of what I wanted to look like, I convinced myself that I would look like all these insta models if I just had a nose job, my nose became the sadness in my life, every time I looked in the mirror I saw a hook and a bump, it wasn’t a perfect ski slope nose like all those girls have on instragam, it got to the point I would just sit and cry in my room, I would try and contour my nose to make it look thinner, id even cover my face with my hand while I was talking so people couldn’t see the monstrosity on my face, it got that bad I decided I wanted to get filler injected into my nose to try and make it look slimmer but I ended up in hospital because the needle went through a blood vessel and I got s major vessel infection in my nose, the price of beauty had became too Much, I felt like Rudolph.
And this was all because I felt like I had to fit that social profile and look a certain way in order to feel worthy and validated. I started posting less photos of scenery or food or actual things of interest and more and more photos of myself seeking validation. I used to feel like “ did I really go out unless I got a photo and I put it on insta”. I started to realise that my followers were going up and up and within a year I’d gone from 800 followers to 12.4
If it wasn’t for Instagram would I really have gotten lip or cheek or nose filler, or 20 inch hair extensions?
It was only until I was sat in my uni lecture one day, as I study sociology and we were talking about the unrealistic standards of beauty and the sexualisation of woman, that I realised I’d allowed myself to become brainwashed and allowed myself to create something and someone that society wanted me to be me to be not actually who I wanted to be
If Instagram didn’t exist we would have nothing to compare ourselves too, we wouldn’t feel like we had to validate ourselves by showing “our best lives” and “ best versions of ourselves”
Along with the dangers of regular social media sites there is also a darker side of the internet.There is a growing number of blogs and websites that label themselves as ‘pro-Ana’ sites (Pro-Anorexia) that give damaging ‘tips’ on how to get to a goal weight.
Jargon such as:
“Ana.” (Anorexia) “Mia.” (Bulimia) “I love you to the bones.”
The jargon is used to mask the websites as sites such as Tumblr try to remove them and deem them as damaging.
The controversial quote was from model Kate Moss who has since said that she regrets the comment. This comment has since been adopted by numerous pro-anorexia websites.
After a few minutes of searching I was shocked and disgusted with what I found. According to the people who run the website ‘Pro-Ana’ is more than an unhealthy lifestyle and it seems as though they view it as some sort of cult-like religion.
One website even had a ‘prayer’ for followers:
I shall not be tempted by the enemy (food), and I shall not give into temptation should it arise. Should I be in such a weakened state and I should cave, I will feel guilty and punish myself accordingly, for I have failed her.
I will be thin, at all costs. It is the most important thing; nothing else matters.
I will devote myself to Ana. She will be with me where ever I go, keeping me in line. No one else matters; she is the only one who cares about me and who understands me. I will honor Her and make Her proud.
“SKIP DINNER WAKE UP THINNER”
Thinspo often leads to ‘pro-ana’ pro-anorexia isn’t just a support system for those already suffering, they target vulnerable individuals and take over their lives.
1. If you aren’t thin you aren’t attractive.
2. Being thin is more important than being healthy.
3. You must buy clothes, style your hair, take laxatives, starve yourself, do anything to make yourself look thinner.
4. Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty.
5. Thou shall not eat fattening food without punishing oneself afterwards.
6. Thou shall count calories and restrict intake accordingly.
7. What the scale says is the most important thing.
8. Losing weight is good/gaining weight is bad.
9. You can never be too thin.
10. Being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success.
One site also contains a number of tips and tricks to deal with cravings, producing a list that can only be described as coming from the mind of a very disturbed and unwell person.
With all l of this information that is out there for young vulnerable girls, working alongside the constant pressure to look good on social media it is no wonder so many kids are being diagnosed with eating disorders.
These sites romanticise eating disorders, exchange tips and encourage eating disorders.
Eating disorders have been fuelled or even triggered by these sites. Making Pro-anorexia sites a criminal offence will deter the making of these sites. These sites not only are Pro- Anorexia but ultimately pro-death.
Sign this petition to help fight these damaging sites!