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    Hi, i was wondering if someone could read my speech and help to make it better? It was originally titled Glorifying Mental Illnesses but I'm not sure which title is more relevant:

    Skinny girls are on the cover of every magazine, social media is filled to the brim with these picture perfect girls, their sparkling white teeth, clear skin and stunning figures. We are brought up being told to love ourselves and all our flaws but how can we when these digitally enhanced photos of this distorted idea of ‘beautiful’ is being waved in our faces at any given moment?

    What is this promoting exactly? Young girls aspire to look like these models, 5’7, long legs, toned stomachs, their collarbones sticking out. The whole idea of ‘clean eating’, going to the gym every morning or night, skipping meals to look like the girls on the cover of vogue, spending their lives counting calories, feeling ugly for eating a small chocolate bar so instead snacking on salad. Society telling children that they have to be skinny to be pretty? The media is showing disordered behaviours as if they’re normal, but they aren’t. Children as young as 10 can be downloading apps like ‘myfitnesspal’ or other calorie counting apps and on social media platforms like Instagram or Pinterest looking at ‘thinspiration’ which is basically photos of underweight teenagers with what’s seen as a ‘perfect figure’, there’s even accounts that promote eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia? Yet Instagram and other social media platforms do not do anything about these accounts and there are whole websites dedicated to getting a ‘victorias secret angel’s figure’.

    On top of all of this. depression, self harm and anxiety are being glorified on social media, personally, I’ve seen year 7s on social media, particularly tumblr, posting and liking photos of depressing quotes on pictures of girls with scars on their arms and we’ve all seen the anorexia tumblrs raving about how happy they are that their spines are finally peaking from the back of their bodies or how the anxiety remedy is to take a Lush bubble bath and play some Twenty One Pilots while you're at it. There are girls that post online pictures of their ribs with the caption saying how many days they’ve only had water and maybe an apple to eat. Children and teenagers are especially vunerable and naïve, this makes mental illnesses seem ‘trendy’ and cool. Such destructive behaviours become normal because there are thousands of blogs and accounts out there promoting such life threatening illnesses.

    These illnesses are exactly as they are described –illnesses. They are life consuming, with a huge stigma surrounding them, sufferers generally find it extremely hard to speak out or to even realise that there’s something wrong, but so many people these days seem to think of them as cute and quirky personality traits making sufferers more special and that it’s desirable to be diagnosed with disorders to do with eating, anxiety or depression.

    All you have to do is google ‘depressed tumblr’ and what appears? Quotes such as ‘Her eyes ran out of tears to shed, so she forced her skin to cry instead’ with images of self harm in the background. Anxiety is promoted as ‘just being shy’ and there are posts plastered all over the internet of ‘relatable posts when you have anxiety’ which are hardly linked at all to such a serious illness. They all just make it seem like a mental illness is just a really sexy frame of mind, like you’re just so deep and broody and everyone will love you for it. They have become a replacement for having a personality for some people, where in reality people with actual mental health problems are shying away from the world, too scared to speak out. You can say ‘I’m going to kill myself’ and people will laugh and joke around not taking you seriously because suicidal thoughts are almost seen as normal to many teenagers.

    We, as a society, need to stop glorifying mental illnesses.

    In 2017 6,188 suicides were registered in the United Kingdom and female suicide rates are at their highest in a decade. Surely these figures alone scream to us that we need to do something to help people with these awful illnesses instead of making them seem like something people want and aspire to have. It’s one thing to stop the stigma around mental health and to advertise helplines and services such as CAMHS - child and adolescent mental health service and organisations such as mind but it is not okay to promote these disorders as it makes it seem as if it’s normal to have depression and eating disorders but nothing about that is normal and no one should be influenced into wanting to have such dreadful illnesses.
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