Just The Way You Are1)
Recently, among women in their teens and 20s, there are more and more who envy and desire skinny bodies. The problem is that they end up starving themselves to get skinny enough to show their bones. On social media such as Twitter and Instagram, they post photos that stimulate the will to lose weight under the hashtag called "proana," a combination of "pro" meaning approval, and "ana" meaning "anorexia." They even recruit people to join in extreme fasting on SNS and share tips on how to control their diet. For extreme diets, they lose weight through extreme fasting, drinking only water, repeated eating and vomiting, and taking laxatives and diuretics. As a result of their extreme diets, many women suffer from eating disorders. The symptoms they show are anorexia, a refusal or intentional suppression of food intake, and bulimia nervosa, in which eating abnormally large amounts and intentionally vomiting or inducing diarrhea. In addition to the social pressure on SNS on those in their teens and 20s to put a higher value on others' opinion of their appearance rather than their health, psychological factors are pointed out as the reason why eating disorders occur. The psychological attitude to solve low self-esteem and self-hatred leads to a change in appearance.
Considering eating disorders, anorexia is considered a very serious disease. In February, Nam Insoon, a lawmaker of the Democratic Party of Korea released data from the National Health Insurance Corporation on anorexia patients over the past five years. 42,647 anorexia patients were reported, and it increased by 23% from 7,674 in 2016 to 9,448 in 2020. Of the 9,448 patients, women overwhelmingly accounted for 7,672, and patients in their teens and 20s has continued to increase by 13% and 24% respectively. However, the actual number of patients is estimated to be much higher, considering the tendency not to admit the disease to themselves. Therefore, the symptoms of anorexia are serious and treatment is needed. Kim Yulri, a professor at the Institute for Mental Health and Eating Disorders at Inje University said, "Anorexia is a fatal disease with the highest suicide rate and mortality among all mental disorders. In particular, patients in their teens and 20s are 12 times more likely to die from being underweight or committing suicide than their peers." To treat anorexia, both medical help and institutional measures are needed. Professor Kim said that if it is detected early, it can be completely cured, and that early self-evaluation of suspected patients is needed. There is also a need to solve the problem of excessive media exposure. Instagram is taking steps to warn about the risk of anorexia. When searching #anorexia in English, the phrase "these posts can encourage people to do things that can harm themselves or lead to death" appears. Continuing to educate that each person has a diverse body seems to be the way to solve anorexia.
1) Choi Hyunji, "1020 Women Who Say Skinny Bodies Are Right… Life-Threatening Eating Disorder Warning", Women's news, March 21, 2022