Every branch of the armed services holds strict rules that soldiers must follow. For many women, the physical standards and self-image pressures can quickly becoming overwhelming, especially as women’s bodies and metabolisms are much different than men’s. Some of the pressures placed on women marines include the following examples:
- The appearance of the uniform – The marines’ uniforms for women are bold, navy blue, tea-length skirts, tailored blazers adorned with gold buttons and crisp white hats, and these are expected to be polished and well-cared for at all times. They way soldiers represent their country often hinges on appearance, as the idea of anyone being slightly overweight and making the uniform look undesirable is unacceptable. Living up to the dress standard of a marine can be detrimental to a woman’s mental state, as all women are shaped differently, therefore the uniform will look different for everyone.
- Mandatory weigh-ins – A part of being a marine includes mandatory weigh-ins as well as check-ups regarding height and weight. This can lead to many problems for women soldiers, as failure to meet the required weight standard can lead to embarrassment and shame. It can cause those in higher ranks to treat these marines differently until they fit the cookie-cutter appearance they encourage.
- Deployment stress can easily encourage bulimia, as the majority of command decisions are made by superior officers, including when and if a soldier will be deployed. This can make a marine look for something to control, such as her weight.
Being in the marines promotes a high-stress environment filled with standards and a lack of control over important decisions. Therefore, some women find it easy to adopt bulimic practices not only to fit in with others and maintain a good appearance, but also to cope with the stress of the job.
Whether you are currently enlisted or not, it is important that you speak up when you experience physical and psychological issues like bulimia. You will be better able to serve your country if you are healthy, so living with the dangers of an eating disorder harm more than just you.