My main issue revolves around societal influence on humanity and eating disorders, a mental category too often overlooked and is quite understudied. (But knowing me, I might digress here or there on a few things.) The diagnosis of eating disorders didn’t begin until the 1970′s, and since then, much research has been made, and compassion on those suffering with identity in a fallen world has more or less increased.
We all have heard of Karen Carpenter who died from anorexia nervosa and Princess Diana who struggled with bulimia. Two women who, on the outside, appeared to have everything together and yet struggled with self-worth and love. Perhaps, because of the attention, success, fame, and wealth that they had, it’s all too quick to call them vain, selfish, and spoiled of life. And I sometimes wonder if we say these things really because of a deeper vice of jealously that we have within us. After all, if the people who have everything can’t appreciate what they have, surely we can flaunt our appreciation much more if we were in their shoes.
Last year, I read an article on Amanda Bynes that someone wrote in defense of how the media has attacked her, publicized her own tweets on the news, had addressed all of her promiscuous wrongs on TV, while totally dismissing her cry: “I have an eating disorder!” While I agree that she is responsible for her actions, the media and society at large is responsible for pushing her into darkness as she struggled day by day to stay thin, to fit in, being brainwashed that self-worth is solely determined by outer appearance (how you look, what you have, what you wear, how you act). In fact, in much the same way the military is responsible for those suffering with PTSD, the media and society, environmental factors, are responsible for those suffering with ED. (And if you want to learn more about eating disorders, it never hurts to do some online research from valid sources and pick up a book at a library or nearby bookstore.) I remember the day I saw on the news Bynes being handcuffed and was immediately taken back to the story of Mary, who was about to be stoned to death by the Pharisees, and the fear and shame she must have felt.
If eating disorders are a mental disorder, surely, in this current century we all have eating disorders! Obsession on weight, contemplation on food, comparing your body to others, weighing often (by the way, the weight scale was originally meant for health purposes), and exercising vigorously to get that perfect body advertised all over the media — instead of exercising for enjoyment, treating your body by giving it the proper care it needs — surely, should be categorized as a person having an eating disorder, even if the external signs do not show as with those struggling with anorexia and bulimia. At least those diagnosed and seeking help with eating disorders can admit their fears, own their shame, and voice their inward struggle against perfection. Whereas society-at-large seems to be in denial of their own efforts to “fit in” and their own needs to satisfy self-worth by striving so hard to perfect outer appearances, which is usually by using what big-buck companies advertise: to be thin, to have flawless skin, to get plastic surgery, is to be happy.
My Medievalist professor at school spoke once in class and in an e-mail about the DNA of sin. We are born sinful; we are naturally bent towards sin. It is inescapable and you cannot run from it. The power of sin is definitely seen in our external environment, but it is borne within our very hearts. In other words, even if you have everything, the externals of life, you are bound to struggle because of your sinful nature. Does that mean conform to sinful nature? No, not at all. It just means to point out the reality that no matter who you are, what you have or do not have, you will face struggles; it will just be quite differently than the person on your left and the person on your right.
No one is superior. No one is inferior. We are all equal. And we are all worthy.
We do not need more, because we already have enough.
So, why do we still feel like we need to compete?
Just stop for a moment and allow yourself to listen to a hurting heart. And stop for a moment and listen to your own.