Peer pressure is something that concerns every parent of a teenager. We know peer pressure can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, but it can also lead to things like risky behavior and eating disorders.
According to a study done by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), peer group pressure is “one of the most significant influences on self-image and the development of anorexia”. The study was done by Dr Joan Costa-Font and Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet of CityUniversity, and published in the Journal Economica in 2012. According to Costa-Font, “We found evidence that social pressure, through peer shape, is a determinant in explaining anorexia nervosa and a distorted self-perception of one’s own body.”
Influenced by Celebrities, Media, and Peers
Teens are definitely influenced by celebrities, movies, and media, and many teens do not think they look good enough because of the pressure placed on them by society. Furthermore, teens continuously compare themselves to each other, and base their opinion of themselves on the way they compare to others. Peer pressure also plays a part in eating disorders when a friend’s dissatisfaction with her own body influences how other friends feel about their bodies. A growing number of teens are first becoming exposed to eating disorders through classmates who binge, purge, or starve themselves. Groups of friends tend to do things together, even get involved in a dangerous behavior like anorexia.
In order to combat eating disorders among teens, parents and school officials must look for the signs of unhealthy behaviors, and get help for those who are struggling with an eating disorder. By dealing with the issue at a community level, as well as working to convince the media to provide better role models, we can help our young people see that there is so much more to humans than our body size.