Perfection: The disease of the nation

Mary ElhakamPerfection: The disease of the nation

by Mary Elhakam

Bags and bags of makeup on my dresser. Open my drawers and they are empty, all clothes are on my bed. I wake up at 5 am just so I can have enough time to put on makeup and put a nice outfit together. I try to look pretty like my friends. They don’t realize that I am constantly haunted by an inner voice that tells me that I am not enough. I look in my mirror and I see a fat teenager who wishes she was good enough.

Our nation is suffering from a plague. Perfection is the disease of the nation, and we are focusing on the wrong things when it comes to perfection. What we have been trying to “perfect” has caused millions of adolescents (mostly girls, including myself) to suffer from eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia. The excuse we have come up with is “beauty hurts”. Where did the concept of inner beauty go?

Body Awareness Week (Photo credit:

Body Awareness Week (Photo credit:

Companies like Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria’s Secret have been two of the most criticized companies when it comes to their standards (thinner is better). Once I  walked into a store that sells small sizes. I was with my sister, who happens to be thin and an employee stopped me after greeting my sister and tells me “Have you considered weight loss? You don’t fit in our sizes and that means you’re fat and fat is unattractive.” I don’t think a size 14 is fat. I didn’t think there was anything unattractive about the way I looked.

Young women have died from eating disorders. One such woman was Eliana Ramos, a model who died because of malnutrition at the age of 18 . Our government isn’t doing anything to stop this. An American model who is 5’7” is expected to weigh 120 pounds. According to Harvard School of Medicine the regular weight for a woman who 5’7” is 160-175 pounds. Companies publish these pictures of underweight women and so many people try mirror their images… they don’t realize they are beautiful the way they are. Every day kids are teased for the way they look.

Countries like France have acknowledged the issue and implemented laws requiring that all models must be at a weight according to their height. Why hasn’t the United States done the same thing? How many suicides due to low self-esteem will it take? How many more fatalities because of eating disorders will it take? Why does it even have to get to this point?

We live in a society where beauty overrides intelligence. We live in a society where beauty on the outside overrides inner beauty. We live in a society where when someone seeks help we say they are seeking attention and turn them away.  Why does something fatal have to happen so we can open our eyes?  That’s not okay. It won’t be okay until this changes and our nation adopts guidelines similar to those in European countries.

It’s up to us to take the first step.

Mary Elhakam is a summer intern at Bronx Community Board 11 and a high school sophomore at the NYC iSchool.


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