More liberty is needed
Chiedza Mavis Chakawanei, a 30-year-old Zimbabwean student in Henan Province
Social appearance anxiety is an unexplored concept in eating disorders. It can be referred to as social anxiety surrounding overall appearance, including body shape and fear of negative evaluation by others. In my opinion, I strongly believe that technology, exposure and upbringing have a crucial impact on social appearance anxiety.
Technology has altered the way people communicate and interact with each other. Most people are on various social media platforms, observing and following the latest trends. On social media there are some so-called celebrities which tend to have an excellent look and are regarded as successful. The negative impact of technology through social media is that it puts pressure on people without the desirable social appearance. The outcome is that such people will feel less confident in public, as in they assume that they are being judged by their look. For instance, there are some people who are fat due to their genes and not necessarily because of eating disorder and if put under social pressure, they end up starving themselves just to have the acceptable body appearance.
The amount of revelation or understanding one has about something depends on their exposure. People who have been exposed to other cultures and societies tend to have a broader way of evaluating things. For example, when one is in a different society or another country they would want to fit in to what is generally regarded as a normal look. People who are overweight usually have a low self-esteem and some can engage in destructive behavior if they feel they are being judged by society because of failure to achieve the acceptable social look.
People are brought up in different ways and many aspects like religion, culture, beliefs and values come into play. An individual will be exposed to social appearance anxiety if what they have been taught contradicts with their present appearance. Life is very much unpredictable and it has no formula, so there is need to give each other more liberty.
Health is more important
Liu Xi, a 27-year-old elementary school teacher in Beijing
In China, social appearance anxiety is common among women. To ease it, some rely on makeups and weight-loss, while others go as far as cosmetic surgery. There are countless advertisements of products that claim can make us prettier.
This has even had an influence on children. As a teacher for third graders in an elementary school, I have heard slender girls in the class complain that they are too fat and want to lose weight. There are also children who go on a diet with their parents and take part in additional weight-loss exercises.
I was once very anxious about my appearance, too. When I was about to graduate from college, I decided to “reform” myself according to some methods I learned from the Internet. I reduced my intake of food and did more exercise. After a few months, I lost about 10 kilograms to a weight deemed perfect by society. I looked better in photos, and my clothes fitted me better. However, it came with a price. I had meniscus injuries in my knees, irregular menstruation, anemia and compromised immunity. After that, I opted for health rather than looking thin in the eyes of others. I soon returned to my previous state, not so slender but healthy and full of vitality.
After I started working, I was reassured that I am a financially independent woman with the ability to support myself. I don’t need to please anyone with my appearance. Besides, since I don’t depend on my appearance to make a living, the standards of beauty for actors, models, and Internet celebrities don’t apply to me. All I need to do is be healthy, have a normal weight, and dress well.
In my opinion, beauty is not defined simply by our face, figure, or clothing. It has multiple connotations and comes with the confidence that everyone is beautiful in their unique way. Above all, it should never be defined by others. No doubt that appearance is important, but the personal appeal that attracts people for a long time doesn’t lie in how we look.