Yesterday, I was on the train home and two young girls dressed in school uniform came and sat beside me. They couldn’t have been older than 12 or 13 and they were excitedly chattering about the fact they were on their way to the cinema (cue nostalgic smile). Not even five minutes into the journey their discussion turned to something else; what should they eat? Asking each other, “how nutritious is popcorn? How often do you eat bad stuff? What do you usually have for tea? What does your Mum eat, is she really healthy?”. Listening to their questions made me want to bury my head in my hands. One question sprung to mind, does it matter?
When I was 12 I didn’t think much about what I ate. If my best friend had asked me whether my Mum was a healthy eater I would have given her a funny look. I was definitely aware of healthy eating but I assumed that my parents/school had it covered. If this is what young girls are sitting and chatting about these days then no wonder eating disorder hospital admissions have nearly doubled in the last three years. It’s too much, too young. The way we live and eat is surely something to be decided once we have flown the nest. Only then do we truly discover how we want to live and what we enjoy to cook and eat.
Who’s fault is it? The media? Social media outlets for creating a culture where taking a perfect photo is deemed important? Celebrity culture and their seemingly perfect bodies/advocacy of diets? Advertising and airbrushed models? Again, does it matter? All that matters is we find a way to let young girls know that, for now, their job is to enjoy their youth. That the food shop and cooking is not yet their job and they can trust that the adults around them have it covered.
The Motivation Project covers the topic of body image as well as the use of social media. We’re finding a way to let girls know that it’s much healthier to talk about what they like about themselves and not to worry about things they can’t control. See our testimonials from the girls who have already taken part and judge for yourself if it works! To read Sarah’s story about her teenage experience with an eating disorder, click here.