Media Influence on Eating Disorders
Women are given the message at a very young age that in order for them to be happy and successful they have to be thin and beautiful. It is also not surprising that eating disorders are on the rise because of the value society places on being thin. Most women and girls feel like being thin is the ultimate achievement and quite possibly the most important aspect of themselves. Eating disorders used to just be a way for women and young girls to keep their weight off. However, the sad truth is this isn’t just a diet, but a silent killer. In recent years, girls with low self esteem are becoming increasingly younger. According to the National Association of Eating Disorders, 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures (12). When young girls compare themselves to images of women who appear “perfect” their self image lessens, and in turn creating a vulnerable platform for an eating disorder to take over. The medias unrealistic portrayals of women, societies obsession with being thin, and lastly the rise in weight loss advertising are problems discussed throughout this paper as reasons for the growing epidemic of eating disorders.
Women constantly ask themselves “what is the perfect body type?”. As our adolescence ages into adulthood many women struggle with trying to answer this question. Societies idea of
what the perfect body type is constantly changing. However, it is always influenced by the medias perception of what the perfect body image should look like. We all idolize these images we see on television and in magazines and some of us would do anything to look just like them. When they are constantly being compared to what they see in the media, its no wonder these young girls develop self esteem issues. One study showed that 69 percent of girls stated that magazine models influenced their idea of the perfect body shape (Does the media cause eating disorders? 3). I believe the media and how they portray women unrealistically is one of the reasons for the increase in eating disorders over the years. Instead of focusing on what college they are going to attend, these girls are worried about how many calories are in an apple. Between TV, magazines, and movies, girls are constantly comparing themselves to unrealistic images that are painted everywhere. It’s almost impossible to step outside without seeing these illusory images. By 17, the average woman has received over 250,000 commercial messages through the media (Mass-Marketing of Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders: The Social Psychology of Women, 212). These advertisements are damaging to both mental and physical states to the girls and women trying to live up to the medias perception of the perfect body type and are more likely to develop one of the many body image disorders (Media and Eating Disorders 1). Trying to live up to these expectations can be detrimental to the health and well-being of these girls, all to achieve the “perfect look” they see so often. Thin models and actresses in the eye of the media are often the ones these girls are looking up to, and strive to look like, which can also pose a problem as many times these women are unhealthily thin.
It’s no secret that female celebrities appearances have shifted in recent years. Celebrities
and models exude a sort of power over people, partly because they are so highly visible in our society. There is a meaning behind what celebrities and models look like; it is the message that these women are powerful, they are sexy, they are beautiful; they are wanted (Ahern et al., 2008). The influence of the stereotypical vision of a woman is taking a toll. When a girl becomes obsessed with dieting and looking better, they can easily become anorexic or bulimic. 79% of teenage girls who...
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Ultra-Thin Ideal: Positive Implicit Associations with Underweight Fashion Models are
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Harrison, Kristen. 2000. The Body Electric: “Thin-Ideal Media and Eating Disorders in Adolescents.” Journal of Communication. 50(3) 119-144.
Hesse-Biber, Sharlene, Patricia Leavy, Courtney E. Quinn, Julio Zoino. 2006. “The Mass- Marketing of Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders: The Social Psychology of Women
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