26th February - 3rd March 2012 is National Eating Disorders Awareness week.
With a huge 70 million sufferers world-wide (and a shocking 24 million of them residing in the US alone), it is little wonder that those running the campaign chose the hard-hitting slogan "everybody knows somebody".
And is it any wonder that this is the case? With models that are much thinner than your average person strutting down the cat-walk, and the near constant 'thinspo' imagery that resides on our screens, magazine covers and billboards, can you blame our generation for feeling inferior, for feeling like we are not good enough?
The advertising firms can testify that their message to consumers is 'buy this product, it will make you look beautiful', but it is perceived by young minds as 'buy this product, you'll look less ugly'.
Research has recently been carried out on beauty advertisements, and it has become grossly apparent that after seeing adverts for beauty enhancing products, women were more likely to see insecure and worry about their own appearance.
Say what you will, but it appears to be their desired effect. Insecurities lead to profits for the publishing industry. Self-loathing fuels the dieting industry. A distorted view of oneself is essential for the beauty industry. The company is making money, the consumer is getting what they want... everyone wins, right?
We are all put down and told that we are not good enough. Some are told this implicitly through advertisement and the media. Others are told this explicitly by their peers and themselves. Younger and younger, we are becoming aware of how we look, and how this will effect others views of us. 35% of girls aged 6-12 have been on at least one diet. 3 in every 100,000 children under the age of 13 have an eating-disorder, and that are only the ones that we are aware of. Kids idols were once characters such as Barney the dinosaur and Scooby Doo, now they are becoming transfixed with celebrities and their completely falsified looks. We are replacing our children's toys with fake-tan, vajazzles and chicken fillets. It's sad to see kids growing up so fast these days, but it's downright tragic to see them growing up, knowing all too well that they are going to do so with low self-worth, an obsession with getting 'skinny' and a lack of understanding that what truly matters is the beauty that no-one can take from you, the beauty of your heart and of your soul.
So tell someone that they are beautiful today, tell yourself that you're beautiful and believe it. Eating disorders can feel as though they haven taken over your whole life, but they don't need to rule you. There are plenty people to talk to or consult if you are suffering from one or know someone who is.
Please, don't be afraid to get help.
It is estimated that 50,000 are going to die as a result of their eating disorder... don't let it be someone you know.