|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Food Media Nutrition Psychological disorder|
Anorexia and Bulimia are both eating disorders that have similar symptoms but are characterized by different foo-related norms. The two eating disorders do not affect a specific gender, but women are the most affected, as reported by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (Rodgers et al., 2019). Bulimia is an eating disorder that is characterized by binge eating, and afterward, the victims begin to panic about the number of calories they have consumed. People with Bulimia then engage in extreme behaviors like vomiting or intense exercise in the effort to lose weight. On the other hand, victims of anorexia are triggered by emotional trauma like depression and anxiety disorders leading to extreme weight loss triggered by bad eating habits, skipping meals, and hiding their body sizes in public, among other symptoms. The media depicts an ideal body of a woman as an hourglass and with a small waist-to-hip ratio (Rodgers et al., 2019). Moreover, some media reports that both women and men prefer slimmer bodies since they are perceived as attractive (Eli & Ulijaszek, 2016). Media depictions of "ideal" bodies influence anorexia and Bulimia, and there is a link between exposure to these images and eating disorders.
Images of slim women and lean men in the media may influence viewers to diet and lose weight, but the negative influence of idealized images does not exclusively cause eating disorders. The victim must be biologically predisposed to developing anorexia or Bulimia, among other eating disorders (Rodgers et al., 2019). Everyone has felt self-conscious about their weight at one point in their lives but the images did not lead them to have eating disorders. Therefore, genetic factors play a significant role in the development of anorexia and Bulimia when some people observe idealized images in the media.
Several genetic factors affect people in relation to eating disorders and the role the media plays in influencing people to engage in harmful eating habits. First, cognitive processing has a significant impact of idealized bodies on body dissatisfaction and mood variations between different individuals. For example, some magazines and online articles ask women and men to rate how much they would desire to have a thin body. According to research done to investigate the issue, asking women and men to indicate what size and shape they would like to have led to negative moods and body dissatisfaction of the participants (Eli & Ulijaszek, 2016). The investigation also revealed that making women fantasize about their ideal bodies led to an improvement in their moods. In summary, the mode of cognitive processing of the perfect images in fashion magazines and other media outlets is dependent on a person's perceptions and beliefs of an ideal body (Eli & Ulijaszek, 2016). Therefore, some people are at a high risk of comparing themselves with idealized images than others.
Although research connects eating disorders with genetic factors, the current socio-cultural environment plays a significant part in the increasing cases of anorexia and Bulimia in the United States and other countries across the world. It is also challenging for those trying to recover from eating disorders to do so when the media constantly puts up images of thin people (Shepherd & Seale, 2016). Other television shows bring women and men with larger bodies doing extreme exercises and other torturous routines to lose weight and have thin bodies to fir in society.
Advertisements, articles in magazines, and some television shows significantly contribute to the rising cases of eating disorders in the United States and other parts of the world. The social context depicted by the media in various platforms significantly contributes to body dissatisfaction, especially in women. Nowadays, advertisements regarding diet foods and products have increased considerably as compared to previous decades. Women magazine articles today contain many diet promotions, which pressurizes ladies the need to have an ideal body, especially since the weight of the average North American woman has increased. However, not everybody is affected by such advertisements. Those who have an internalized perception that a thin body is ideal and have dissatisfaction with their bodies are at a high risk of engaging in unhealthy eating practices. According to research, adolescent girls with no stable social support are also extremely vulnerable to the impact of media messages regarding the essence of a thin body.
If one pays attention to the media, they will discover than strong and frequent messages regarding the desirability of thin and able bodies and a notion than all other bodies are less valuable. Moreover, the mode of advertisements of beauty products and diets mostly to women is in such a way that it assures them of the so-called desired bodies (Shepherd & Seale, 2016). Industries make millions of dollars every year in the promotion of their diets through various platforms like television ads, magazines, and social media. The images used in marketing these products discourage the vulnerable men and men from being satisfied with their bodies, and most times, viewers are encouraged to change their appearance and acquire an ideal body size and shape.
In the past decade, there has been an increased multiplication and spread of online images famously duped as thinspiration and thinspo (Shepherd & Seale, 2016). The advertisements have constantly been popping on mainstream media for a long time and other sites as well. Previous studies indicated that adolescent girls who use social sites like Facebook and Instagram are at a high risk of developing eating disorders (Shepherd & Seale, 2016). These sites also put people at risk of being highly dissatisfied with their bodies and feeling poorly about themselves.
However, the media that is mostly associated with its negative influence regarding eating disorders is print. Fashion magazines constantly feature images and pictures of women who mostly have been extensively photoshopped to have slim bodies that are envious to the audience. Past research has shown that adolescent girls who read fashion magazines and articles are twice or thrice more to diet to lose weight and achieve the "ideal" body (Rodgers et al., 2019). Those magazine images often influence the idea of the viewers of the perfect body shape and how they can achieve it.
Celebrities and ladies in music videos influence the perceptions of beauty, and they lead other women into believing that the slender body type is ideal, desirable, and beautiful. Today, there are very direct messages in the media that are associated with body weight. For instance, show hosts, celebrities, and models are viewed as role models, especially by teenagers (Shepherd & Seale, 2016). Their body shape and weight often appear to demonstrate the definition of being successful and popular. However, men are affected too. The Western culture defines a man's ideal body as that which is lean but muscular and well-defined (Rodgers et al., 2019). The images of male models, weight lifters, and others who have slim bodies in media cause other meals to feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and some develop eating disorders to lose weight in extreme ways. However, the idealized images have different impacts on various individuals, and not everyone is vulnerable. According to Rodgers et al. (2019), a person's perception of beauty and their psychological motives matter significantly from viewing different images in the media.
A landmark study was published in 2002, and it involved research that was done on Fijian girls (Wilksch, 2020). The purpose of the study was to determine the association between the media and eating disorders. However, the Fiji Islands did not access to any mainstream media before 1995, a factor that made the researchers have an accurate view of how the media can influence attitudes and behaviors. According to the article, Fijians generally prefer and value curvy bodies. The research findings indicated that the adolescent girls on that island were not involved in any dieting to reduce weight, and no record of self-induced vomiting was recorded (Wilksch, 2020). However, after television was introduced after 1998, there were several cases of self-induced vomiting, dieting, and reports of some girls feeling too fat (Wilksch, 2020). The finding of the research study is a clear indication that the media plays a significant role in influencing eating disorders.
In summary, the media depicts an ideal body of a woman as an hourglass and with a small waist-to-hip ratio. Similarly, the western culture defines a man's perfect body as that which is lean but muscular and well-defined. Although research connects eating disorders with genetic factors, the current socio-cultural environment plays a significant part in the increasing cases of anorexia and Bulimia. Celebrities and ladies in music videos influence the perceptions of beauty, and they lead other women into believing that the slender body type is ideal, desirable, and beautiful. Those who have an internalized opinion that a thin body is perfect and have dissatisfaction with their bodies are at a high risk of engaging in unhealthy eating practices.
Eli, K., & Ulijaszek, S. (2016). Obesity, eating disorders, and the media. Routledge.
Rodgers, R. F., O'Flynn, J. L., & McLean, S. A. (2019). Media and Eating Disorders. The International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy, 1-10.
Shepherd, E., & Seale, C. (2016). Eating Disorders in the Media: The Changing Nature of UK Newspaper Reports 1. In Obesity, Eating Disorders and the Media (pp. 91-106). Routledge.
Wilksch, S. M., O'Shea, A., Ho, P., Byrne, S., & Wade, T. D. (2020). The relationship between social media use and disordered eating in young adolescents. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 53(1), 96-106.
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