Anorexia And The Media Essay Research Paper

Anorexia And The Media Essay, Research Paper

Two main eating disorders pertain to thinness they are Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa. Anorexia is the refusal to eat enough food so that your body can maintain a normal height and weight. Bulimia is a pattern of eating large quantity of food in a short period of time followed by vomiting, using laxatives, or overexercising (Harrison, 1). Females are particularly vulnerable to developing eating disorders. It seems due to the media and how they portray the image of thin women on television, in advertisements and in movies.

A National survey revealed that up to seventy five percent of women consider themselves too fat when in reality they are below the ideal weight standards that are established. In America fifty six percent of all women are on diets. Women of ages eleven years of age to seventeen years old number one wish is to lose weight and keep it off. By the time these girls reach the age of eighteen eighty percent of them have dieted. This is not only a problem with young women older women as well are affected with weight preoccupation and body dissatisfaction. Older women fear weight gain associated with aging (Wilson, 2).

The relationship to advertising in respect to food and women s bodies has received considerable attention. A recent advertisement for Jarlsberg Lite Cheese illustrated this strategy of conveying thin women. The advertisement for this product displays a thin, beautiful model dressed in a short, low-cut dress lounging on a bar stool. They have her long thin legs that take up most of the page with not a trace of cellulite on them. The caption for this advertisement is written across her tiny waist and it reads Everybody could use a little less fat (Wilson, 3). This advertisement for Jarlsberg Lite Cheese portrays that a women cannot be thin enough an even every women who is thin must worry that their bodies are too fat .

This cultural norm of all women being thin is very unrealistic. The ideal thin body is unattainable for most women. Seeing even thirty minutes of a television program or advertisements will alter a women s image of her own body shape. Also women who are exposed to magazine which have really thin models in them exhibit depression, guilt shame, and body dissatisfaction. That is why research has a direct correlation between media exposure and eating disorders among women (Wilson, 2).

The ideal thin appears in television and magazines especially for women. The body shape standard in television is slimmer for female then it is for males. Sixty nine point one percent of female characters are thin and only seventeen point five male characters are considered thin. Popular women s magazines contain approximately ten times as many dieting articles and advertisements then in comparison to men s magazines. This ten to one ratio also matches exactly that of females with eating disorders in comparison to males with eating disorders (Harrison, 2).

College is a major time in young people s lives they experience major changes. Students are now exposed to the world all on their own. Suddenly they are on their own with food, usually for the first time in their lives. These students will gain weight and then diet. This triggers eating disorders. A study on teenagers was taken and it was found that between one half and one percent of teens suffer from anorexia while three to five percent suffer from bulimia (Duffy, 2). Bulimia is the more common of the two disorders and it is affecting as many as one in every five college aged women (Wilson, 1).

College students seem to be at particular risk of for developing eating disorders. My next door neighbor here at Eastern Connecticut State University, is Jeanne Cannarella. She is a white female who is eighteen years of age, and weighs one hundred twenty four pounds. Jeanne is extremely concerned about her weight and contently compares herself to cosmopolitan magazine models. She has been on and off a variety of unhealthy diets since the day that I have met her. She goes on these diets because she wants to have a body like the models that she sees in the magazine. She constantly is depressed about her weight and it affects her social life, to the point where it gives her social anxiety. Jeanne once stated that she envy s anorexic girls and wishes that she had the willpower not to eat. While Jeanne has no reason to be concerned with her weight granted she does not have a figure like a super model, yet at the same time she has nothing to be concerned with. I can honestly say that Jeanne is one person that is nowhere near being even remotely overweight, although she strongly disagrees. Many citizens view Colista Flackheard (Ally Macbeal) as disgustingly under weight on the other hand Jeanne would give up everything to have her body.

Even though a great number of people develop eating disorders because of how the media portrays thin as being the cultural norm. Not all people with eating disorders develop them in this way. The alteration of brain chemistry contributes to the development of bulimia nervosa. Women with bulimia are known to have changes of brain serotonin activity and mood, as well as perfectionism. These symptoms persist also persist after recovery. Altered serotonin activity causes anxious and obsessive behavior and it affects the control of appetite, this making a person more vulnerable to developing bulimia (Kaye, 1).

Numerous women develop eating disorders due to the effects that the media portrays thin women. This image that the media imbeds in women s heads to be thin is very unrealistic, and for most females impossible. Still trying to compare themselves to the advertisements they see makes women particularly vulnerable to eating disorders. I feel that if the media showed beauty in many sizes, the eating disorder rate would decline slowly.

Works Cited

Duffy, Tom. Campus Crusaders. People. 12 April. 1999:

Vol. 51 Issue 13 p71.

Harrison, Kristen. Does Interpersonal Attraction to Thin Media Personalities Promote Eating Disorders. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. Fall 97, Vol. 41 Issue 4. 478-501.

Study Suggests Biological Cause foe Eating Disorders Womens Health Weekly. 19 October 1998: 4.

Wilson, Nona L. Food Advertising and Eating Disorders: Marketing Body Dissatisfaction, the Drive for Thinness and Dieting in Women s Magazines. Journal of Humanistic Counseling Education & Development. Dec 99, Vol. 38 Issue 2, 111-123


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