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Kelly Rose Bradford writer
Kelly Rose Bradford Journalist and broadcaster London, GB

We can't lay the blame for eating disorders at the door of social media. All Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook have done is increase the sharing of images and the 'trendy' terminology we use. The desire among teens to achieve an unrealistic figure through unhealthy regimes has been around decades, if not centuries.


The Independent on Sunday recently reported that the number of children and teens seeking help for eating disorders has risen 110% in the past three years - but surely this is as much of an indication of help BEING available and the problem being recognised than an actual increase in cases?


Some 25 years ago, when I was 15, the terms 'bikini bridge' and 'thigh gap' had yet to be coined. Nevertheless, my friends and I still did 'shoulders back, boobs out, stomach sucked in duck face' photos. The difference was we had to wait three weeks for them to come back from the developers,  and when they did, we had few opportunities for sharing them. 


But our yearning for a concave waist and slender thighs was just as great as it is with teens today. We went on ridiculous diets, pummelled our pudgy thighs and did endless sit ups.  We pored over diet advice in the magazines of the day, and if we had been able to share the 'successes' we noted in our diaries ('today's intake: three apples, one Ski yoghurt - can almost do up size 10 jeans') then no doubt we would have.


Of course teenagers are more aware of body image now because of the ease of access to the world at large, and the way we share information. And that, combined with the competitiveness and need to court attention that every teen has to some degree, can equal a recipe for disaster. 


However, I strongly believe the need in youngsters to achieve their view of perfection has not changed in generations - but that the way they share that 'perfection' or seek out role models, has.   

What do you think? Does social media increase the problem, or just provide a new platform for an age-old obsession? Tell us in the comments below! 

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Opinion 3 years ago

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