How the Number on the Scale Affects Teenagers
Countless numbers of teenagers around the world suffer with body insecurities and eating disorders. In a society where thinness is prized, negative thoughts can easily become unhealthy addictions.
Before I knew it, I was counting every calorie I ate, and running on the treadmill while specks clouded my vision until I passed out on the cold floor. I wanted to be perfect. I didn’t want to be a rejected apple in a grocery store, a nuisance to others because of how much I weighed. And most of all, I didn’t want to see myself in the mirror as someone I’d leave behind.
As a child, I was obsessed with what others thought of me. I started to cut my self-esteem with a knife sharper than the insults I heard on any given day. I was my biggest enemy.
Searching for another reason to detest myself, my focus landed on the subject of weight loss. A New York Times article on teenage body image states that when growing up in an environment that promotes wanting to appear thin, teenagers develop eating disorders such as anorexia, and turn away from the foods they genuinely enjoy eating. Having someone comment about my weight could so easily stab through me that I willingly drilled this thought into my head:
“I should just stop eating.”
Studies in a Newport Academy article uncovered that “among high school students, 44 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys are trying to lose weight at any given time.” Wishing to look like someone you’re not leads to desires to change your body. Many would be surprised at how far people can go to do so—and for teenagers, it’s especially worse once the action of starving themselves becomes a part of their diet with bodies that are not fully developed.
Sheltering in place has many negative impacts on child, teen, and even adult health, as “COVID-19, and the economic consequences of the pandemic, may be increasing the risk of obesity,” according to an article by the State of Childhood Obesity. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and stepping away from junk foods is essential to keeping our bodies well. However, anyone who begins to criticize themself is subject to insecurity—and has already opened doors to voices that will crush any bits of self-love they have left. They’ll want to become thinner and thinner. And I’ll tell you, it’s addicting.
If you walk into a store and see a basket of apples, you will notice that none are the same. One may be distorted, one may be slightly larger than the other. You may weigh more than your friend, they may weigh more than you, but our value is not determined by others’ opinions, and shouldn’t at all be affected by the number that appears when you step on that scale.