Eating Disorders And The Media

Something that most experts on the subject agree on is that eating disorders and the media are directly connected. The media and body image have long been dependent upon each other to set styles and trends. For years, society has let the media set the standards of how men and, particularly women, are supposed to look in order to be attractive. Unfortunately, many of these standards are just not attainable for the normal person.

When actresses, models, and others involved in a profession that depends largely on how they look are depicted as being beautiful because they are thin, eating disorders and the media once again become solidly linked. Normal women feel pressured to do whatever they feel is necessary to emulate these beautiful women that everyone wants. They don’t perceive themselves to be desirable or attractive unless they are wearing a size 1.

Ways That The Media Encourages Eating Disorders

One of the many ways that the media and body image promote eating disorders is through the constant publications of women wearing next to nothing or tight fitting clothing. Beside these publications are comments posted regarding the amazing and fantastic appearance of these women. It is photographs such as these that give women the impression that unless they are 5’8 and weigh 100 pounds they are somehow fat and ugly.

Eating disorders and the media have come under fire on more than one occasion in the past years. Even singers who felt they had put on a pound or two started using a slenderizing filming technique to shoot their music videos. The finished product came out looking unnatural, although the singers were certainly slender enough.

Models are also encouraged to stay at an unhealthy weight. This is for a couple of reasons. When a designer has new clothes sewn, there is as little material as possible used until after a showing of the new designs. The models wearing these clothes need to be of an almost impossibly small size in order to fit into them. The other reason is that the camera is notorious for adding pounds. When the models go on photo shoots, it’s important that they look “thin and sexy.”

Celebrities Who Have Not Subscribed To The Media and Body Image Myth

It is in recent years that certain well-known actresses and models have refused to let the media dictate to them how they should look. These women chose to stay healthy rather than to buy into the eating disorders and the media propaganda. They were brave and sensible enough to pay attention to what they know to be a healthy lifestyle.

Actress Patricia Arquette, who plays Allison DuBois on the television series Medium, was chastised after the birth of one of her children. She did not immediately lose all of her pregnancy weight and went to filming of the show still carrying it. Producers of the show instructed her to lose the extra weight. She told them that since she was playing the role of a woman who had given birth to 3 children, it was not realistic that she would be “model thin.” Therefore, she refused to lose the weight.

Model and talk show hostess, Tyra Banks, was snapped by the paparazzi wearing a swimsuit on the beach. This picture was accompanied by many insulting comments due to her size. This 5’10, 140 pound woman decided to tell the entire media what she thought of their comments by appearing on her talk show wearing the same swimsuit that the picture was taken in. She no longer worries about media and body image stories. In fact, she is healthier now than ever.

Singer and actress Jessica Simpson was captured performing onstage recently and it was clear that she had no worries regarding eating disorders and the media. The once super slim “Daisy Duke” was sporting actual thighs and hips. She dealt with the reaction by not reacting herself.

In Conclusion

It is promising that some of the people who may actually be able to make a difference in whether or not some young woman gets the help they need for an eating disorder are getting on board with the fact that it is more important to be healthy than thin. At some point, maybe everyone who is at risk for developing an eating disorder will realize that the media and body image is not always right.


Return To Causes Of Eating Disorders

Return To Home Page



Additional Reading:

Weight-Related Bullying and Eating Disorders
The Media and Body Image
Weight Stigma
Body Dysmorphic Disorder