The marketers of the global consumer culture spend obscene amounts of money every year to make people feel bad about the way they look. If they can make us feel bad about our bodies by showing Photoshopped images of models who are on the brink of starvation, then they can sell us whatever they want. This is even more dramatic in the minds of teenagers, whose bodies are changing radically and whose brains are still developing.
If I had the chance to talk to a teenager who hates her body, I would say, “I understand that feeling. It’s a terrible one, isn’t it?” and then I would ask her about what makes her joyful and what she is afraid of. Eating disorders are mental illnesses that need to be taken seriously and treated by professionals. But for those people who still only coping with confusion about their body image, it is very helpful to have people who will listen to the things they are struggling with.