The Media's Influence On Eating Disorders

1120 words - 4 pages

The Media's Influence on Eating Disorders

The National Eating Disorders Association states that eating disorders are conditions that arise from factors including physical, psychological, interpersonal, and social issues. Media images help define cultural definitions of beauty and attractiveness and are often acknowledged as one of the factors that contribute to the rise of eating disorders (NEDA). The National Eating Disorders Associations website, "The Effect of the Media on Body Satisfaction in Adolescent Girls", "The Media's Influence on Body Image Disturbance and Eating Disorders", and "Dieting Behaviors, Weight Perceptions, and Life Satisfaction Among Public High School Adolescents" are all articles that evaluate how the media may cause adolescent girls to develop eating disorders. In order to understand how the media?s portrayal of body image has an influence on adolescent girls developing eating disorders one must understand the attitudes young girls have about their body images, the emphasis on female thinness depicted in magazines and on television, and the way young women are influenced by the media.

Body dissatisfaction has become the norm for female adolescents in America (Valois et al. 271). Body dissatisfaction is a result of the difference between the ideal self versus the perceived self (Champion and Furnham 214). Thompson and Heinberg found that girls who watch 8 hours or more of TV in a week will have greater body image dissatisfaction than girls who watch less than 8 hours of TV per week (342). This shows how girls who are exposed to television will develop negative feelings towards their body?s image. Negative feelings towards body image can often lead one to try various ways to lose weight.

A significant portion of teenage girls, who are at or even below their normal weight, are not comfortable with their size and will experiment with dieting or other behaviors to lose weight. Thirteen percent of 10th graders have reported vomiting, or using laxatives and diuretics to lose weight (Champion and Furnham 214). Many teens have resorted to eating disorders to shed extra pounds and in recent decades anorexia nervosa has increased. Adolescents who develop eating disorders tend to also have low-self esteem, a negative body image, and feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, social dysfunction, depression, and moodiness (Valois et al. 271). Body dissatisfaction can cause eating disorders, and eating disorders can then cause even more negative body image perceptions. Many teenage girls are turning to eating disorders to relieve their body dissatisfaction, but these behaviors will eventually damage their physical and emotional health, self-esteem, and self-control which will not improve their perception of their body image.

One of the main reasons that girls think they need to be thinner than they actually are, is because they are exposed to media images that help define what beautiful and attractive should be. ...

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