Eating Disorders Influenced by the Media
Skinny, Gorgeous, Tall, Tanned, Long Hair, Fashionable. Some of the qualities of the women you see on every magazine cover and red carpet runway. From early-on children are taught by society that their looks matter. Think of the three and four year old who is continuously praised for being “oh so cute”. With an increased population of children who spend a lot of time in front of television, there are more of them coming up with a superficial sense of who they are. Images on T.V. spend countless hours telling us to lose weight, be thin and beautiful, buy more stuff because people will like us and we’ll be better people for it. Programming on the tube rarely depicts men and women with “average” body-types or non-stylish clothes, ingraining in the back of all our minds that this is the type of life we want. Overweight characters are typically portrayed as lazy, the one with no friends, or “the bad guy”, while thin women and pumped-up men are the successful, popular, sexy and powerful ones.
Super models in all the popular magazines have continued to get thinner and thinner. Modeling agencies have been reported to actively pursue Anorexic models. The average woman model weighs up to 25% less than the typical woman and maintains a weight at about 15 to 20 percent below what is considered healthy for her age and height. Some models go through plastic surgery, some are “taped-up” to mold their bodies into more photogenic representations of themselves, and photos are airbrushed before going to print. By far, these body types and images are not the norm andunobtainable to the average individual, and far and wide, the constant force of these images on society makes us believe they should be.
Personally, I have the felt the pressures of the media to look a certain way. I am constantly looking at the latest fashion trends and diet fads. I do my hair and makeup a certain way and go to the gym on a regular basis. I can say that the way I look is extremely important to me and this has a lot to do with the media. The women I admire most are those that are constantly in the media like Blake Lively, Kim Kardashian and Adrianna Lima and not to mention they are always looking amazing! Many of my friends from high school and even peers today have experienced eating disorders. My best friend struggled with one for over two years. At first she looked great but then slowly started to look sick with pale skin, dead hair and nails and a boney figure. I can easily say she suffered through this because of the media influence. She was constantly talking about this model and that model and how skinny and perfect they were. This is definitely a psychological disorder that needed to be dealt with. Thankfully she is in a healthier state of mind now, but many young women never seek the help thats required, which could be fatal.
Diet advertisements are another problem. On television, in magazines and newspapers, we are continually exposed to the notion that losing weight will make us happier and it will be through “THIS diet plan”. Time and time again it has been proven that, for the long-term, regimented diet plans DO NOT work, yet our society continues to buy into the idea that they do. Pop-culture’s imposed definition of “the ideal body” combined with the diet industry’s drive to make more money, creates a never-ending cycle of ad upon ad that try to convince us “…if you lose weight, your life will be good.” The flip side is that as long as we continue to buy into their false claims by purchasing these (often dangerous) products, the more the diet industry will keep pushing their slogans at us.
From the About-Face organization: “400-600 advertisements bombard us everyday in magazines, on billboards, on tv, and in newspapers. One in eleven has a direct message about beauty, not even counting the indirect messages.”
I was recently watching the TLC show called ”Do Looks Matter” and I was shocked with the content and outcome of the show. On this particular episode “Megan” was sent out on the street to try and collect pledges for a cause. Megan is naturally a size 2 petite girl. The second time she went out she put a “fat suite” on making her a size 14. At the end of the episode they compared how many people stopped to talk or donate pledges. Megan’s original size 2 look collected triple the amount of pledges than Megan’s size 14 look. Why is this? I believe it is because of the constant exposure we have to the media telling us what is pretty and what isn’t, naturally people will be more attracted to the thinner, size 2, Megan.
All in all, I believe that the media needs to start exposing all type of beauty and body types. Some companies have already started to do this like Dove, where they feature more average or bigger looking girls in their ad campaigns. More beauty and fashion companies should take this into consideration because it sends a very positive message to young women or all shapes and sizes.
Sources: Derenne, Jennifer. Body Image, Media and Eating Disorders. Retrieved from: http://ap.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleid=50181
Henderson, Katherine. Eating Disorders and the Role the Media plays. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2533817/