The toxicity of teenage dieting


Jasmin Taylor, Staff Writer

As a teenage girl, it’s impossible to go about my day without seeing or feeling some form of pressure to conform to Western societies’ standards of beauty. Whether it’s women on TV shaving their already hairless legs to market the newest razors, or women with flawless skin trying to convince me the newest foundation is essential for my beauty, advertising is filled with female expectations of beauty, and it’s everywhere.

But the worst and most prevalent message is that women need to be thin. Through the modeling industry and the altering of images in ads, society tells women that in order to be happy, beautiful and loved they have to be thin. However, in real life, women can be all of those things regardless of size. As a result of these constant messages that skinny, in its healthy and unhealthy form, is better, teenage girls are feeling more and more pressure to achieve these goals, so, many of them turn to diets to look like that.

There are two basic forms of diet, one is beneficial for your body, and the other is not. Restriction of foods that are necessary for nutrition and a balanced diet is completely unhealthy and not beneficial for anyone, especially growing teenagers. However, a balanced diet or a diet geared towards improving overall health, by increasing protein or eating less meat, for example, can be beneficial.  

According to data collected by Statista in 2017, 47.1% of high school students diet to lose weight.

Through the modelling industry and the photoshop of ads, the media tells us that in order to be happy, beautiful and loved you have to be thin. However, in real life, you can be any of those things regardless of your size.

Not only are there mental drawbacks to dieting, but there are physical drawbacks too. Although teenagers may believe going on a diet is healthy, depending on how meals are restricted more harm than good could occur. All humans need a certain amount of calories to fuel and provide their bodies with energy, but dieting often consists of not eating enough calories and nutrients, which is detrimental to people’s health.

I don’t believe in completely cutting out the unhealthy foods you eat. The key word is to eat “unhealthy” food in moderation. Foods with high levels of fats and salt really won’t do any wrong as long as it’s eaten in moderation, state the U.S. National Library of Medicine. For example, a YEAR report in Healthline states, “Reduced-salt diets could be linked to increased levels of blood cholesterol and blood triglycerides [fats in the blood]” because “fatty substances found in the blood can build up in the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.”

A balanced diet consists of fruit and vegetables, protein, fat, dairy and carbohydrates. Many of the diets young women go on in order to lose weight completely ban these foods, even though they are good for our bodies. In order to be healthy, you don’t need to deprive yourself of your favorite foods and cravings, you just need to be smart in the way that you consume them. Teenage dieting not only causes physical harm but also enforces negative body image in some people. Although it would be nice to live in a world where nobody feels the need to diet to become societies’ expectations of beauty, this is unrealistic for our world due to the fact that dieting is fuelled by the media and modeling industries, such as celebrity paid promotions of weight loss products like “tummy teas” and appetite suppressants.