Most people have an idea of what anorexia is, they might know someone who has it or even have it themselves. For this reason, it can be quite a sensitive topic to talk about, but at the same time, it’s also an important topic to talk about.

What some people might not know is that Anorexia is a mental illness, it’s not an easy thing to fix, and can stay with the sufferer for many years after the condition becomes controllable. For example, 60% of sufferers follow an episodic pattern, and 20% of sufferers will continue to be effected throughout their lives. It’s also a condition with a high prevalence rate, 90% of the cases known are in females who are between the ages of 13-18, and it’s continuously on the rise in males.

There are different theories/ideas behind the causes Anorexia, and in my opinion I think the trigger for the condition is different in each case. But there is a particular idea I want to talk about in this article, as it’s a relatable theory to the social media age we live in.

It’s called the Social Learning Theory (SLT), which suggests that people who suffer from Anorexia have acquired that behaviour from observing and imitating modelled behaviour (i.e. Behaviour from a role model). This process can be broken down into 4 key sections:

Attention – This is where an individual is watching their role model. E.g. on T.V, seeing a photo of them, or seeing them face-to-face.

Retention – Next the individual remembers the behaviour/image they have seen their role model carry out. E.g. this could be remembering a photo they saw of their role model in a magazine, where they look very slim.

Reproduction – This is where the individual carries out similar behaviour e.g. thinking they need to lose weight to look more like their role model, and therefore beginning to eat less food.

Motivation – However, for the individual to carry out this behaviour they need to be motivated to do so and this can come in different forms.

1)      Vicarious learning: This is where the individual learns to carry out the behaviour by watching others being rewarded or punished. E.g. in the media, celebrities who have skinny body shapes are celebrated in a positive way, which may give an individual enough motivation to change their eating behaviour.

2)      External motivation: This happens when an anorexic receives praise for their behaviour E.g. being told how good they look, or being able to buy smaller sized clothes, which helps the Anorexic repeat their behaviour.

3)      Self-reinforcement: This is where the behaviour is being reinforced due to the anorexic internally feeling good about themselves for losing weight, and feeling that they are becoming more like their idea of a “perfect body shape”.

From looking at this theory, it’s easy to see how young males and females can be affected by the body image of their role models. Therefore “celebrities” are in a very powerful position to help change young people’s lives for the better, in promoting a #healthybodyimage. However, we ourselves can also be role models; maybe we are to our younger siblings or friends. So we all individually need to be helping emphasise a healthy body image too, and this starts with feeling good about ourselves.

With great body image power, comes great responsibility!

Writer: Lottie                     Twitter: Twitter

Thanks for the support and love 🙂    Your REglam Team xx   

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