Pressures for girls to diet starts at young age, according to recent studies

Juggling school with pressures to eat healthy, to look a certain way and to exercise regularly are common matters faced by many college students who are trying to find that perfect balance.

The National Eating Disorder Information Centre recently released information estimating around 40 per cent of nine-year-old girls have gone on diets to lose weight. However, many Langara students said they feel forced to look a certain way now that they are in college.

“I currently feel more pressure than I did back then,” said Jennah Lay, a general arts student.

Managing schoolwork and staying healthy

Lay balances school and an active lifestyle by running and kickboxing twice a week.
She said she has always eaten relatively healthy, but still feels pressure from magazines and advertisements on television to “have a certain look.”

Langara College students pose to show that it's okay to have various body shapes.

Photo: Jocelyn Aspa — Langara College students pose to show that it’s okay to have various body shapes.

Stephanie Lam, a kinesiology student , said she tries eating healthy because she doesn’t get the chance to play as many sports as she used to.

Lam said the amount of time she gets to the gym these days fluctuates depending on what else she has to do.

“Sometimes I feel guilty when my friends go to the gym and I don’t,” said Lam. “So, I eat healthy instead.

She said when she was in high school she frequently compared herself to her sister.

“She was skinny, I always thought I was fat, but I was just average,” said Lam.

Educating self-worth at an early age

“How we present ourselves is the one thing that everyone sees. The body is always on display,” said Peter Crocker, a UBC school of kinesiology professor.

“For women, there’s a lot of pressure on them to appear physically attractive,” he said.

To promote a healthy body image, Crocker said it’s important to educate both girls and boys at a young age.

“A lot of it has to do with having a supportive background,” said Crocker. “And that you’re far more than what you look like.”

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