Eating Disorders and The Media Influences

7 July 2016

Eating disorders, any range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, have been around since the 1870s and are increasingly taking over the world today. These two types of eating disorders are taking over predominantly. What is causing this outbreak? The media is affecting the societies because most people they see on television, magazines, and the fashion industry are below average weight. What was once called a “Model Disease” is now a trending disease.

Not only does eating disorders affect adults and teens but also small children. It is evident that the media plays a major, important role in eating disorders. Weak minded people concerned with their image are more influence than the normal person. The society is now all about the “ideal” image. Who comes up with the idea that being abnormally small is the “ideal” image? Only sick minded people would even think that. True enough being skinny does not determine your health or happiness. The influence of the media cannot be refuted. What is the problem with eating disorders? They’re just so photogenic!

Eating Disorders and The Media Influences Essay Example

There are the young women or – even better – girls; the celebrities and fashion magazines that are, of course, the cause of eating disorders; female body shape and, thrillingly, the food that is eaten or, in this case, not eaten to obtain that shape. From an early age the society has been bombarded with images and messages that reinforce the idea that to be happy and successful we must be thin. It is nearly impossible to open a newspaper or magazine, listen to the radio, shop at a mall or turn on a TV without being confronted with the message that to be fat is to be undesirable.

The most devastating thing is that it is finding itself to reach the minds of children. When adolescents feel as though their body image, such as their hips or weight, does not match up to those of supermodel and actors, they feel strongly flawed. The media constantly sends out images and messages promoting an almost unattainable, unrealistic image of beauty that has been consistently linked to eating disordered and body dissatisfaction predominantly among women, but has even gone as far as to influence males. American men and women strive to obtain the perfect body, or the “thin ideal,” that the media presents as normal.

Eating disorders do not stem from a desire to be slim: they are an expression of unhappiness. The way a woman’s body is equated with her human value in the media can, to someone who is subconsciously looking for a way to articulate their unhappiness, feel like the perfect solution. Throughout the years the image has gone from a voluptuous and curvaceous body to a slimmer and leaner body. While it may be true that eating disorders affects the entire society, it is undeniable that teens are more influenced by those around them in the media.

Why are teens more influential? They are always surrounded by peer pressure, low self-esteem, and of course the media. Teens watch the media more than anyone because they are trying to keep up with the latest trends. The advertisements sell images of thins, beautiful women, along with the image is a message from the advertising company telling girls to lose weight, or increase their breast size. Television commercials can send a message that if they lost weight or apply beauty products they too will find love or be happy once again.

If they are not up to par than one may be left out or feel insecure about them. Researchers, from Harvard Medical School, show that in Fiji in some areas that only 8% of household own televisions while in other areas 85% of homes owned them since 1995. (How Social Networks Spread). In the article How Social Networks Spread Eating Disorders, they compared the rates of eating disorders they discovered that those exposed to television were 60% more likely to display abnormal eating habits than those without exposure. Anxiety about the body image can start at a very young age.

Surprisingly, by 1990 the average age that a girl began dieting had dropped to eight from fourteen in 1970 and more than half of nine and ten year old girls have admitted that they felt better about themselves when dieting. (Media Influence). Children grow up watching the many types of television shows. On almost everything they watch, even cartoons, there will always be an overweight character. For example, Patrick, on Spongebob, is portrayed as the abnormal or perhaps we can look at the show Family Guy. Peter Griffin is overweight and portrayed to have no common sense.

Children look at particular things like this and start to thinking “Well if I’m overweight than I too am just like those characters on those shows. ” and then there is a problem. According to a study from the University of Central Florida, nearly 50% of girls aged three to six were already concerned about their weight. (Media Influences). However, girls with direct exposure to television become vulnerable to eating disorders. Young girls are negatively affected by the overwhelming messages they receive from films portraying overly skinny movie stars.

These girls are faced with societal pressures to fit in. The image impressions that the females give off on the young teen girls spreads like a virus. Nine out of ten girls who are high school juniors and seniors diet while only one out of ten of high school girls are overweight. (Media Influences). “Our study not only showed a second hand effect but demonstrated that this second and effect is the exposure of interest. ” (Social Networks Spread). The social network can affect them without direct exposure because one could have a friend or someone that they are acquainted with and be exposed through them.

In addition, the media is a very important aspect of life in our culture. The culture pressures the society to glorify the “thinness” or muscularity and place value on obtaining the “perfect body. ” The cultural norms value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths. This narrows the definition of beauty that include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes. For some, dieting, bingeing, and purging may begin as a way to cope with painful emotions and to feel in control of one’s life when looking at another life.

In Media Influences, studies show that 95% of people who diet instead of following a healthy meal plan will gain back the weight they lose in between one and five years. Individuals who diet frequently diet often experience depression because they are never satisfied with their look. Exactly 73% of teenage girls who abuse diet pills and 79% of teenage girls who self-purge frequently read women’s fitness and health magazines. (Media Influences). The diet and diet related product industry boasts annual revenues of about $33 billion. (Media Influences).

By them knowing that they can make so much off of insecure people they continue to advertise being skinny. They advertise by showing their many commercials on TV or through magazines. Overall, research has shown that as commercials for diet foods and diet products have increases, the body sizes of Playboy centerfolds, Miss America contestants, fashion models and female actresses have decreased, while the weight of the average North American woman has increased. (The Role of the Media). Often, one of the first seating disorders symptoms to manifest is poor body image.

A study show that women experience an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day, while 97% of women admit to having at least one “I hate my body” moment each day. ( Media Influence). Women often look at the stars on the media and automatically assume that is the “ideal” image. What is the “ideal” image? To the culture the “ideal’ image is being slimmer than the norm. It seems as if you must have no hips, lack butt, and a hard rock flat stomach with huge breasts. Media influences how people view themselves.

Media is in account for many interpretations and each is perceived differently by each individual. There are commercials that broadcast fast foods, which try to persuade us to buy the new and fattening’ food. However, not only do the media glorify a slender “ideal” image, they also emphasize its importance, and the importance of appearances in general. The media tries to change us by showing overbearing and thin people as an object of desire. Among the advertisements and television commercials one is supposed to conclude, to buy all the newest fast food items, yet stay extremely thin.

It is almost impossible to eat the commercial shown foods, be healthy, and obtain this look, and women do not realize this. Therefore to obtain the certain look that is portrayed by the media, adolescents are developing eating disorders. However, many adolescents see the overbearing thin celebrities and try to reach media’s level of thinness and ideal body weight. Mannequins and models have grown thinner by the years increasingly disparate with the average woman’s physical form. Most runaway models have met the body mass weight to be called anorexia.

Sure enough we have median or plus size model but over the years their dress size have become several sizes smaller. Some are even in the single digits again, for example an eight or maybe even a six. Being thin associated with other positive characteristics such as, lovable, popular, beautiful, and sexy, while being overweight is connected with negative characteristics like fat, ugly, unpopular, and lazy. Therefore media is the distinct social pressure of operating to influence people to be thin and causing eating disorders.

This sends a message to the society saying “To be beautiful you have to be unhealthily thin. ” On the other hand, there are some people who say that it is quite okay that the media contributes to eating disorders. It is supposed to influence the society that this is the look and also brings money in by portraying that. People will continue to purchase dietary things to have the look. If one do not have the look then one is not average, one could even be below average. They say that it is not about your feelings, forget them because no one cares.

If one is suffering from an eating disorder it is not the media that is causing it, it is the insecurities one is having. In fact some ask the question, “Why have more of those who are slightly bigger on television than those who are smaller? ” If that is done than the society will feel that is the “Ideal” image look and there will be another issue, obesity. On that note, they will then say that the media is causing obesity instead unhealthy eating. It is known that obesity is not healthy and it will not make you happy.

Either way you put it, nothing will win and everything is blamed on the media. Certainly, my oppositions have realized though the media does affect the society tremendously it does not affect everything. If that was true we could be affected by the different stars whose body is above average weight. For example, look at Oprah Winfrey. She struggle with her weight for years. It was causing health problems until one day she decided that it does not matter what her size is as long as she is healthy. Another example would be

Queen Latifah, she has always been proud about her weight. When you see these two female stars on the media they show confidence. They are comfortable in their skins. Perhaps by showing more stars that are comfortable in their skins and are happy will influence the society to be happy with whom they are. For instance, being exposed to idealized, unrealistic, rail-thin images of beauty in the media and diet industry advertisements takes a toll on impressionable girls, who feel they can never measure up to these ideals.

However, often what they do not realize is that the look they are trying to achieve is usually contrived, and that the image has been altered in some way before publication. Society has thus created a disillusioned atmosphere that leaves young women vulnerable to be influenced by the media, endlessly striving for a nonexistent perfection. If the media does not revise its ideal standard of beauty, more and more women could end up as victims of media triggered eating disorders.

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