At the Universita per Stranieri di Perugia, classes are not only meant to teach you the language, but also about culture and structure of Italy. This includes topics such as the introduction of democracy into Italy in 1946, Italian economy and exports (FIAT – Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino), decreasing birth rates, and other important issues. Though I have found no evidence that Italy deals with higher prevalence than other western cultures, our teachers addressed the increasing problem of eating disorders among young Italians.
I’m twenty years old and spent eleven years learning classical ballet. The world of classical ballet is a place where a few pounds or inches can destroy careers. Though I would never give up that experience for anything, I spent my early teens agonizing over my weight. Only this year have I realized that what I’ve been measuring my “ideal weight” against, is completely bogus. I remember being 146 lbs. and always think if I just worked harder and dieted better, I’d get there again. That memory is from five years ago, when I was fifteen, and three inches shorter. Not completely unrealistic, but really, Lila, you’d never eat a french fry again.
A psychologist friend of mine specialized in eating disorders and preventative intervention. In her research, predictors of eating disorders can be observed in kindergarten age children. While children are learning to add 17 and 8 (numbers too big to use fingers!) western culture is teaching children unrealistic physical expectations, i.e. Barbie.
Maintaining proper weight through diet and exercise – is just that. The goal should not be to fit into a smaller number pair of jeans. We should be more concerned about our health than our fashionably knobby knees.