Lifespan PP - Drowning Ophelia

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Drowning Ophelia: The Psychosocial Impact of Female Adolescence (Source: “I Was Raped by a Photographer. Here’s Why You Should Care” by Nikki DuBose) Rachel Matz Lifespan Psychology Carmelita Valencia-Daye March 26, 2016 :

Drowning Ophelia: The Psychosocial Impact of Female Adolescence (Source: “I Was Raped by a Photographer. Here’s Why You S hould C are” by N ikki DuBose) Rachel Matz Lifespan Psychology Carmelita Valencia-Daye March 26, 2016


Title of Current Event: “I Was Raped by a Photographer. Here’s Why You Should Care”, by Nikki DuBose Date: March 17, 2016 Source:


In her Huffington Post article (later expanded into an upcoming memoir entitled Washed Away: From Darkness to Light) , model Nikki DuBose uncovers the dark, unglamorous side of the seemingly sparkling world of professional modeling. She is only an object for consumption by a misogynistic society perpetuating eating disorders, self-mutilation, and depression. The impact of the impossible beauty standards is far reaching, effecting adolescent females the most, as they suffer from the highest incidence of teenage eating disorders and depression. in a 2014 study by the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 2.8 million adolescents struggled with depression; in this research, females between the age of 12-17 were nearly three times as likely to suffer from depression as males (NIMH, 2014).


The first time Nikki DuBose felt bodily shame was at eight, and the hands of an abuser. A professional model at fifteen, she was publicly berated for her weight. This began a cycle of self-harm, including anorexia nervosa and depression. The paradox of her career is shocking: on magazine covers she was a picture of glamour, while behind the scenes she was chastised and misused, and ultimately sexually assaulted by a photographer. This is a crisis not limited to young women: “ My struggles could be yours, or your son’s or daughter’s — tragedies and mental health conditions affect everyone, anytime, anywhere . (DuBose, 2016)”


According to the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5 th Edition), anorexia nervosa is the “restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a significantly low weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory and physical health (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).” Further, the “historical and cross-cultural variability in the prevalence of anorexia nervosa supports its association with cultures and settings in which thinness is valued…modeling and elite athletics are also associated with this risk. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013 ).” A relatively new disorder, orthorexia , hides eating disorders under the guise of “clean” eating. The appearance of health consciousness masks the obsession of weight loss.


With the prevalence of bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa against a backdrop of desperately malnourished idols, is it any wonder that the rate of depression in adolescent females is higher than males? Girls aged 12 to 17 were at triple the risk of experiencing a major depressive episode when compared to boys (12 percent vs. 4.5 percent) (Gardner, 2012). The crux of the crisis is not only psychological; it is society’s pressure on young women to be perfect – but not too perfect. Confidence can easily be seen as conceit; the reward of physical attractiveness, however temporary, can only be presented by an outside source. Self-esteem, a crucial element in psychological development, is limited to the opinions of others.


The Internet also plays a part in perpetuating these behaviors. Social media, as well, plays a part in the continuation of self-harm: sites such as Instagram become addictive for young women, and the incentive of “likes” for “selfies” creates immediate gratification. When these stimuli are not received – or worse, when the responses are decidedly negative, either from online sources or interpersonal experiences – the lack of validation can result in depression. “ Their world is anything but glamorous,” DuBose finishes, “ … to undermine their worth and value is to fuel the cycle that keeps people everywhere — not just models — mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually sick (DuBose, 2016).” To wit: it is not the ones on the magazine pages who need to change – it is the ones holding the camera.


References American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.   Bratman, S. (2015, July 17). Adolescent Girls and Orthorexia. Retrieved from   DuBose, N. (2016, March 17). I Was Raped by a Photographer. Here’s Why You Should Care. Retrieved from .   Gardner, A. (2012, July 31). Depression Rates Rise for Girls During Teen Years. Retrieved from 667194.html.   National Institute of Mental Health (2014). Major Depression Among Adolescents . Retrieved from adolescents.shtml

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