Young Women Struggle With Pressure To Be Thin

Photo taken by Breanna Barrs

From billboards to magazines the advertisement of beautiful, thin women are everywhere. Starting at a very young age girls are exposed to these types of images that shape their minds about how they should look.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders said 91 percent of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. The association also said anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents and 95 percent of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.

Ashley Alm, a senior business major, said its difficult not to feel self-cautious when you see a model in a bikini.

“If they look good and are wearing a certain type of clothing that I want to wear, but can’t wear because I’m not a size 2 or 4, then yeah, I feel pressured to be skinny.”

Alm said it is not easy to look like the models when she has other things to focus on like her schoolwork, finding a job, and enjoying her last semester at Texas Tech.

Baylee Burchfield, a junior from Mansfield, Texas, said she does not worry too much about the pressure to be skinny because she has always been naturally thin.

“Unlike some of my friends, I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and I don’t workout.”

Burchfield said she is pressured more by the influence of her friends to look a certain way rather than what is on TV.

“I know when I look at the models in the Victoria’s [Secret] swimsuit magazine that I wont ever look like that.”

Burchfield is 21 years old, weighs 112 pounds, and is 5 foot 4 inches in height. According to International Drug Mart’s height and weight chart, Burchfield falls in the underweight category.

“There are still some days when I feel fat,” Burchfield said.

Alm said she was more pressured as an adolescent to look a certain way, because now that she is older she has a better grasp of what she wants in life.

“When I was younger, that’s all I cared about – what boys thought of me,” Alm said. “When you’re at that age you don’t have many things to worry about, but now that I am older and know more of who I am and what I want to do, I am not so focused on what other people think of me.”

Mckenzie Wilkes, a research associate for eating disorders, said eating disorders are common and the recovery facility at Texas Tech helps students overcome those types of obstacles.

“As we all know college is – a lot of times – very difficult. For example, there’s a lot of binge drinking and partying that goes on in college, so it’s hard to find support within a college.”

Wilkes said the Center For The Study of Addiction and Recovery has a program to help students recover. She said the eating disorder program is starting to grow and scholarships are available for students.

If you are interested in the program or have an eating disorder and want help call The Center For The Study Of Addiction & Recovery at 806.742.2891

About Breanna Barrs
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