New Castle News

Healthy Living: Lori Brothers

February 27, 2014

Lori Brothers: Purpose, passion can pull you away from appearance preoccupation

NEW CASTLE — Please keep in mind, what you see in the mirror is totally up to you.

The deluge of messages influencing our self-image can be overwhelming. The media, society, internal psychological and social variables and family dynamics play a major role in how we develop our self image, contributing to how you see and feel about yourself.

If we integrate all of the daily data in a healthy way and form a strong personal perspective, we develop positive self-esteem, essential for healthy lifestyle. However, we can run into the snag of self-judgment and self-criticism, which can deflate self-esteem and distort attitudes and perceptions. This is especially true for adolescents and teens.

Surveys report that girls’self-esteem peaks when they are nine years old. Nearly 80 percent of 10-year-old children are afraid of being fat. More than a third of the people who admit to “normal dieting,” will tend toward pathological dieting. Roughly a quarter of those will suffer from a partial or full-on eating disorder.

Consider this. The average American woman is 5 feet, four inches and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5 feet, 11 inches and weighs 117 pounds. Whoa!

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The aim of NEDA Week is to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment.

“Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses — not choices — and it's important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder,” according to nationaleatingdisorders.org.

Signs to look for include: Dramatic weight loss and refusal to eat; Retreating to the bathroom for long periods of time after meals; excessive exercise; poor body image and negative comments about oneself. For guidance and support, call the hotline at (800) 931-2237.

An estimated 25 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, and there is a misperception that females are mainly affected. However, nearly 25 percent of those suffering are male.

“Body image is closely linked to self-esteem. Low self-esteem in adolescents can lead to eating disorders, early sexual activity, substance use, and suicidal thoughts. Ninety-five percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25,” according to Do Something.org, a website I recently discovered that focuses on empowering young adults, encouraging action based on what they are passionate about.    

Do Something is a nonprofit organization with the goal of motivating young people to take action around social changes through national campaigns and grants for projects that make an impact. Schools all over the country are establishing clubs based on the web site.

The official Do Something website touts, “We have 2,439,780 members and counting!”  The organization’s chief executive officer is Nancy Lublin, who founded Dress for Success in 1996. Do Something has monthly causes such as animal rescue, education and homelessness, sponsored by national companies like Staples, Aéropostale and Virgin Mobile.

Giving teens and young adults personal direction to help them feel empowered and purposed takes their attention off of their self-perceived “flaws” and short-comings.

Statistics show that too much attention focused on mainstream media directly impacts negative self-image. “Studies show that the more reality television a young girl watches, the more likely she is to find appearance important,” Do Something notes.

Find or become a mentor. Focus on healthy patterns in diet and physical activity. Contribute to life with purpose and passion to develop a sense of empowerment. These choices help forge the path to living well.

Please keep in mind, what you see in the mirror is totally up to you. When you love and empower yourself, the mirror reflects an excellent view.

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Healthy Living: Lori Brothers
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