Eating Disorders and the Media
American writer Allen Ginsberg once said: "Whoever controls the media-the images-controls the culture." Nothing could be truer, the media has always influenced fashion and body shape. But what's remarkable now is how much the media affects body image, and how willing and eager people are to mess with Mother Nature. (Underwood, par.2) Although there are other factors that contribute to eating disorders the media can partially be blamed for the millions of people with eating disorders because it promotes and glamorizes being thin to the public.
A healthy newborn child eats when it is hungry and stops when it is full. But there are factors that combat against a normal relationship with food from the moment a child starts to communicate. The idea, that looking a certain way and being a certain shape is installed at a very young age. Young girls play with Barbie dolls that have unrealistic proportions and kids see an overload of images on television and in magazines, which imprint an image in their minds of what a body should look like. According to Jonathan Rader, Ph. D., one-half of forth grader girls are on a diet, and when a study asked children to assign attractiveness values to pictures of children with various disabilities; the participants rated the obese child less attractive than a child in a wheelchair, a child with a facial deformity, and a child with a missing limb. (par.2) These fat hating attitudes that are formed at such a young age may very well lead to the development of an eating disorder a few years down the road.
Media sets a certain value on being thin and what thinness means, they brainwash people into believing that thinness is success, beauty, and happiness; while images of overweight people are associated with being unattractive, lazy, and unsuccessful. Companies almost never use heavy-set people in ads, and even when they are used they are portrayed negatively in ads for companies such as Weight Watchers. In most television ads, thin and flawless models grace the screen to sell products. These ads portray woman who have a weight that is way below average, and unhealthy. It is impossible to attain this look, and the women watching these ads at home don't realize that. Ads like these are shown during shows that teenage girls watch, and this is the age when women are most vulnerable to develop an eating disorder. The more that a person is exposed to these ads, the greater their desire to be thin is. According to Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention Incorporated a study of 4,294 networked television commercials revealed that one out of every 3.8 commercials send some sort of "attractive message," telling viewers what is or is not attractive. These researchers estimate the average person sees over 5,260 "attractiveness messages" per year, and that is only from television advertisements. ("The Media", par.3) Women resort to eating disorders because it is the only way to achieve...