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We all know nutrition plays a key role in physical and mental health, yet many people suffer from distorted eating. Everyone goes through the trials and tribulations of life; the highs and lows are what make the journey. Unfortunately, social influences have contributed more lows.

Eating disorders stem from a negative mentality toward food and developing that mentality can come more naturally than expected thanks to society’s ways. Although there are many downsides, social media can be used with better purposes. Preventing and overcoming eating disorders can be done with proper recovery, growth and the spread of awareness.

While scrolling through social media, I often forget that the majority of what I’m seeing isn’t genuine. My timeline is filled with “the perfect bodies” from runway models, social media influencers and magazine covers. Many teenagers find themselves viewing similar posts. Society shows that “skinny is success” (literally). Naturally, many individuals find themselves in a spiral of comparison to these influencers. We find ourselves longing for a certain body type in hopes of a better life, leaving our confidence damaged. With a low self-esteem, it compels one to act despite the consequences.

Even though there are many TV shows or movies addressing eating disorders, many of them can be misleading. For a long time, I thought being dangerously underweight and starving were the only signs of an eating disorder. The damage this type of behavior can have on your body’s system and mental health is immense. Eating disorder symptoms can take forms in over-exercising, binge eating, dizziness, lack of sleep and countless others. Being thin isn’t the result or only sign of an eating disorder. It’s important to find the truth in the deception created by society and stay aware. There is so much more than what is seen on-screen.

Without a doubt, the current social influences are not the best for mental health. All the glamour and perfection found in the media is equivalent to a fantasy. But what if discussing “uncomfortable” topics were normalized? Teenagers would be prevented from caving into those awful diet and body shaming cultures. Instead, they could be more aware of the dangers of undernourishment. Creating a healthier environment is vital for a healthy mentality and physical health (especially on social media since it has a large influence on the younger generation).

Maintaining the “nourish to flourish” mentality can be extremely difficult with the atmosphere created today. Many different obstacles are thrown in the way and overcoming them can be extremely difficult. The number on a scale, size of clothes and shape of bodies do not define an individual, despite what is shown online. The effects of social media’s contribution toward eating disorders aren’t talked about enough, and there is too little action taken on this.