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Disordered Eating And The Media Essay

1189 words - 5 pages

The media constantly sends out an influx of images and messages promoting an almost unattainable unrealistic image of beauty, that has consistently been linked to disordered eating and body dissatisfaction, predominantly among girls but can also be seen in boys. Throughout the years the ideal body shape has progressed from voluptuous and curvaceous an image Marilyn Monroe emulated to a slimmer and leaner frame in congruence with high fashion models such as Kate Moss (Katzmarzk & Davis, 2001). Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia nervosa affect between 1% and 4% of young adult females (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Eating disorders have been linked to body shapes and images present in the media (Shorter, Brown, Quinton & Hinton, 2008). For many children it is genetically impossible for them to obtain societies ideal body image, which may contribute to their obsession for a thin body frame (Lawrie, Sullivan, Davies & Hill, 2006, pp. 366). In addition to the popular medias persistent message that it is necessary to be slender to be beautiful, there has been an emergence of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites designed to encourage a lifestyle of disordered eating and thinking (Bardone-Cone & Cass, 2006, pp. 256). Literature on eating disorders shows that self-internalization, social comparison, self-objectification, and the sociocultural etiological model may explain the effects of media on disordered eating.
Thompson and Heinberg (1999) have found that internalization of social pressures at least moderately mediates the effects of the media on women’s body satisfaction (Thompson & Heinberg, 1999, pp. 339). Heinberg, Thompson, and Stormer (1995) used the Sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire, which they created, to discover a correlation between internalization and body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance, and that internalization predicts variance even when simple awareness of pressures and other risk factors such as teasing are accounted for (Heinberg et al., 1995). In another study, Heinberg and Thompson (1995) showed ten-minute videotapes of commercials to female students at a college that glamorized thinness or contained non-appearance-related images. Women who viewed the videotape that contained images that emphasized the importance of thinness in regards to beauty, were found to have higher levels of depression, anger, weight dissatisfaction, and overall appearance dissatisfaction. In fact women with high dispositional levels of internalization showed greater levels of dissatisfaction with their weight and overall appearance after watching the tape, in contrast to participants with low-internalization who showed a decrease in dissatisfaction with weight and appearance (Heingberg & Thompson, 1995). Brief exposure to images promoting thinness as a prerequisite to beauty increases psychological distress and body image dissatisfaction, and as a result of these findings it is important to note that increased...

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