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Eating Disorders And The Media Argumentative Essays

Essay The Media Causes Eating Disorders

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During your lifetime 250,000 people will die due to an eating disorder. Is this really the type of society we want to be a part of? One which causes people to die needlessly due to media influences which cause the augmentation of a detrimental body image? In the eyes of society emaciated celebrities are the embodiment of perfection. This media ideal of thinness presents society with an unrealistic body image and is projected through the means of television, commercials and magazines, causing women to replicate this ideal. False idealism is the jurisdiction of the 21st century with the number of teenage girls in Britain being admitted to hospital due to anorexia doubling in the last decade. The fundamental reason I chose this topic is…show more content…

In this essay I will assess and focus on why this is so, as well as recent new stresses the media has established throughout society.

Flawless images used throughout the media saturate young girl’s minds, highlighting superlative women. For teenage girls this is hard to ignore with the line between fantasy and reality skewed my mass media and stress placed on obtaining an idealistic body portrait. In modern, Western society children are constantly bombarded with images of a false nature: many of which are photo-shopped to remove ‘imperfections’. But one of the most outraging/staggering facts is that children are not unaware of the demeaning and derogatory methods used by the media with ‘81% of 10 year olds scared of becoming fat’ (World Health Organisation) showing that the prominence of the media is becoming ever more apparent.
Television images have the capability and unique aptitude to mould children’s attitudes and these are established at a very early age. Children look at TV characters as what society sees and expects of them and begin to stereotype. If a thin actor/ actress is playing the lead or key role children automatically assume they play an important factor in society and by being thin they are therefore of a higher status. This false imagery plays a vital role in a child’s upbringing, leading to a submissive pressure to constantly diet and strive for the ‘perfect body image’ and my research has

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Eating Disorders and the Media

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Eating Disorders and the Media


Today's society is undeniably marked by cultural norms and ideals.  The question is, however, does the mass media's depiction of this norm cause harmful behavior in its population?  Researchers have shown that there is a bias in the way television targets children in advertising (Ogletree, S., Williams, S., Raffeld, P., Mason, B., Fricke, K., 1990) and that this media influence over people has always been observable (Miles, M., 1995).  This targeting of audience members serves the purpose of singling out the most desirable consumer for the product to encourage their economic support.  So if advertising is only concerned with selling product, why is it blamed for the low self-esteem and body image and thus the bulimia and anorexia seen in today's women?

     The images projected by the media in commercials, products, wrote ads etc. give today's consumers an idea of what "normal" should look like (Sellers, M., Waligroski, K., 1993).  The people in the ads would all have the ideal body proportions, material possessions and social status in order to deserve the attention the ad places on them.  Viewers see the ads and compare the body images they see to themselves, which is likely to reveal a discrepancy.  Five years ago, the average female model weighed 23% less that the average woman of the time (Miles, M., 1995) and the difference is only growing. 

     Men to are affected by the media's portrayal of what ideal looks like.  Jirousek explains the evolution of the ideal male figure from a slim and "romantic" shape to the "superhuman" image we see in television and the rest of media today (1996).  With the beginning of televised football in the 1930's, the popularized image of males incorporated the larger than life appearance from shoulder pads and other "armor" to encompass movie heroes, comic book characters and clothing models.  With the males in the public eye having these muscular figures and distorted proportions, the "normal" male then received the impression that this is what women wanted even if the look does not come easily to most men.  Fabio is a good example of this image (although Jirousek states that Fabio is more for the female consumer than the influence over male viewers, 1996).  This male image could be just the thing a man needs to see in order to feel completely below expectations thus, resulting in low self-esteem.

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"Eating Disorders and the Media." 123HelpMe.com. 13 Mar 2018
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     Looking further back in history, there is an example of women involved in what we can now look back on and label imitation.  Miles compares the "media" of a century ago to that of today and points out that women are involved in the same types of self-deprivation as they were then, only for a different purpose.  The media of the time was religious in nature and contained images of statues with certain proportions and tales of women who fasted for the spiritual rewards (1995).  It just goes to show that this phenomenon is not new or necessarily deviant in intention but just part of the culture we live in.

     Therefore, if the eating disorders seen in today's society are caused by the imitation of popularized images, why would Joines and Kashubeck come up with drastically different conclusions?  In a study of Mexican-American females in south central Texas, the researchers found that lowered self-image is not a prerequisite for eating disorders (1996).  It should flow that the popularized images from the media create a lower self-esteem in the young women, which would lead to the practices of bulimia and anorexia.  What the researchers found however was that depression is the main reason these young women take part in the unhealthy habits.  This could be explained by the group being almost half second-generation Americans.  Joiner and Kashubeck acknowledge the possibility that the subjects studied just did not feel acculturated enough to feel as though the popular body images applied to them (1996) but then why would these women have such a high rate of eating disorders - almost as high as the rates found in upper middle-class white women who are thought to have the highest rate of incidence?

     Of all the research done in this subject, there seems to be one factor overlooked and that is the individual perpetrator of these abnormal eating patterns.  Generalizing for the whole lot of them obviously does not work with a lot of the theories because there is always the exception to the rule.  The problem could lie in the media's willingness to subject the audience to any means necessary in order to turn them into consumers or in individual's inability to see the harm they are inflicting upon themselves with or without blaming the mass media for the epidemic. Either way, I think that treatment should be implemented in all identified cases rather that hoping the person will stop on their own.



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