December 13, 2011
The Effects of Media on Body Image
Imagine growing up in a modern day society. Everywhere you look there are images of beauty, representations of how beautiful people are supposed to look; flawless and thin. You grow up believing that this unattainable image is the only image of beauty. As you look in the mirror and see only flaws in your reflection, you rack your brain of ways to make yourself more beautiful. This becomes your obsession. Your dream is to become a model, but in the very start of your career, a fashion agent tells you that you will have to lose ten pounds in order to find work. This was the beginning of ...view middle of the document...
In modern society, there is a direct relationship between the media and the development of negative body images.
Anorexia nervosa is not only an eating disorder but a psychological disorder in which the person has an extreme fear of being overweight and purposely avoids eating, even to the point of starvation and, in some cases, death. According to an article from Medicine Net, “95% of people who suffer from anorexia are women” (Dryden-Edwards).
Bulimia nervosa is another eating disorder that women suffer from. Similarly to anorexia, it often presents itself in women who are dissatisfied with their body. How it differs from anorexia is that women suffering from the disorder will binge on food and then try to purge the food by laxatives or vomiting because of an extreme fear of gaining weight. Although no definite cause of anorexia or bulimia has been determined, researchers believe the destructive cycle begins with the pressure to be thin and attractive. Women experience this pressure from the media:
A new study shows a relationship between fashion magazine reading and certain eating disorders, and television viewing and body dissatisfaction. Researchers say the drive for thinness is a learned behavior (DeGroat).
According to Jerry Lopper, an author who focuses on personal development and growth, behavior is defined as a person's action or reaction to some situation or stimulus (Lopper).
The average woman sees 400 to 600 advertisements per day, and by the time she is 17 years old, she has received over 250,000 commercial messages through the media. 75% of normal weight women think they are overweight and 90% of women overestimate their body size (Dittrich).
Women are reacting to the stimulus, given by the media, that there is only one image of beauty: the one being portrayed by the media. Therefore, it’s no surprise that American women are learning such behavior so often as to develop eating disorders. When the majority of those messages are either directly or indirectly making statements that a beautiful body is one that is thin and flawless, it is extremely difficult for women to get that false image out of their mind.
Eating disorders are just one way that women react to a negative body image. The behavior that affects an even greater population of women is dieting:
It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth anywhere between 40 to 100 billion (U.S.) a year selling temporary weight loss, which 90 to 95% of dieters regain the lost weight (Gerber).
Women’s magazines contain 10.5 times as many diet promotions as men’s magazines. Overall, research has shown that as commercials for diet foods and diet products have increased, the body sizes of Playboy centerfolds, Miss America contestants, fashion models and female actresses have decreased, while the weight of the average North American woman has increased (Spettigue).
Dieting is such a huge part of the American culture because people feel that they need to lose weight in...