As our society continues to heavily focus on physical beauty, it is becoming a commonality for young women to develop eating and body image disorders at a young age. New Jersey native Jeanette Suros suffered from a heart attack at the age of 17 as a result of an exercise obsession and years of suffering from anorexia nervosa.
The now 24-year-old tells Daily Mail that although she began dieting at 10, she felt the pressure to be more beautiful than the next little girl at only 5 years old. “I cut out fatty foods and anything that had sugar in,” Suros says. “I forced myself to like black coffee because I read it would suppress my appetite.” Absolutely heartbreaking.
As time went on, Suros’s insecurities only worsened, her weight loss strategies becoming severe. “I’d do juice cleanses and not eat,” she told Daily Mail. “I wouldn’t tell anyone that’s what I was doing. I wouldn’t eat lunch at school then I’d go to gymnastics and tell my parents I’d already eaten earlier in the day so I didn’t need dinner. Then I started waking up at 4 a.m. and going for a three-mile run before school. Then I’d have gymnastics or cheerleader practice. I would never have breakfast or lunch.”
More: When fixating on healthy eating becomes an eating disorder
One of the most significant reasons an eating disorder can spiral out of control is the victim’s inability to express the internal struggles they feel on a daily basis. This is, in large part, due to the immense need to feel in control of our bodies.
Those who suffer from eating disorders often fully believe they are in control. Though they may be aware that their behaviors and habits are not what is considered healthy or correct, they refuse to speak up, out of fear that their family and peers will not understand. Eating disorders, however, are a mental illness. The mind is a powerful thing, and oftentimes we underestimate the effects it can have over the subconscious.
At the age of 16, Suros weighed an estimated 70 pounds and, not surprisingly, her parents and teachers took notice. She was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa after collapsing down a school staircase, passing out.
Unfortunately, rather than taking strides to support their classmate during this time, Suros was bullied for her eating disorder. “The popular kids would throw food at me at lunchtime and tell me I was getting fat. It was really hard to deal with.” This only triggered the young woman’s insecurities further, causing her to exercise from morning until night and starving herself.
More: The most common eating disorder is one you didn’t know existed
On her way to the eating disorder clinic, at 17 years old, Suros had a heart attack, landing her in intensive care fighting for her life. It wasn’t until 2012 when Suros made the decision to recover. It is important to remember that an eating disorder is a mental illness and that recovery is a choice made by the victim each and every day of their lives going forward.
From a young age we are told by our parents and teachers to be ourselves, but as society constantly restricts its definition of beautiful, simply being ourselves can often feel as though it is not enough. Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder, but if we continue to focus solely on the cookie-cutout definition of beauty, eating disorders and unhealthy obsessions will only become worse. Our little girls are suffering younger and younger. Jeanette Suros’s story is one of many, forcing us to ask ourselves, where do we draw the line?
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