The effects of the media on Eating disorders

Introduction Nowadays everyone seems to be fascinated not only with medicine and health but also with perfect body images. These people are obsessed with how their arms, faces, breasts and even their stomachs look. The question is who decides what is acceptable, a defect, normal or what is beautiful. The other question arising is that regarding the cause of eating and body image disorders. In her essay “The Globalization of Eating Disorders,” Susan Bordo points out that the media is the culprit, and she is accurate in her assessment. Discussion Summary of “The Globalization of Eating Disorders” by Susan Bordo The essay envisions a young girl standing in front of the mirror with the aim of looking at her body image. Apparently, the girl has been trying to lose weight through consumption of a no-fat diet for a given number of weeks. Though the young girls does not appear to be fat and has in fact attained her ideal weight, she is still not satisfied with the image she sees in front of a mirror. The girl is trying to compare the image seen to that portrayed in the media. Celebrities portrayed in the media are presented as having perfect bodies that each and every young girl desires. The young girl envisioned in the essay seems to think that she can never attain a body similar to the surreal body images portrayed in the media. This feeling is so much disastrous and sickening. Majority of the people may presume that the girl envisioned is North American, White or from a financially secure family background. This girl may not be pictured as Asian, Black or Latina. This however is not the case since eating disorders are nowadays common among people of different racial groups and gender. Eating and image disorders have become a global issue of concern. A good example is Fiji islands which had for a very long time never reported cases of eating disorders. However, with the emergence of media sources such as television, cases of dieting and eating disorders began to emerge. This emphasizes the great impact that media has in contributing to the rising cases of eating disorders. There is no culture that is able to withstand the impact of media on adolescents especially girls perception of their body images. Virtually all models portrayed in beauty pageants such as miss world beauty pageant are skinny. A good example is Agbani Darego who was the first Black African to with the coveted title. The model was portrayed as a light-skinned and hyper-skinny beauty. This changed the notion that African girls had to have hips. As a result, most Nigerian teenage girls began to aim at getting thinner since they considered slim to be beautiful. The images portrayed in the media dictate on how young girls ought to look and emphasize on the importance and benefits of the looks. Westernization is the main cause of the spread of image and eating disorders to different continents globally for instance Africa and Asia. Eating disorders is a cultural problem that needs to be recognized in order to come up with strategies that can help deal with it. Discussion The media is the culprit and is to blame for the rising cases of eating disorders. The girl envisioned in Susan Bordo’s essay was dissatisfied with her look due to the fact that she was comparing the image to that seen in a video. The same case applies to television shows that feature extreme surgical makeover. Most of the contestants taking part in the makeover are oversized individuals competing to lose a great amount of weight. Such seem to portray that a slim image is the perfect and the most ideal image. This portrayal leads to implantation of a notion that fat is unacceptable. This notion is especially prevalent in teenage girls (Jaffa, 2007). It is also evident that today’s image is set by Hollywood in that young girls desire to have a body image similar to that of Hollywood celebrities. These girls fail to differentiate between surreal and real images. Most of the Hollywood celebrities’ images are often exaggerated in terms of perfection. According to Susan’s essay, Hollywood celebrities such as Christine Aguilera, L’il Kim, Pink and Mya seem to be the role models of the envisioned girl. These celebrities have are portrayed by the media as having perfect images such as perfect faces, stomachs, arms and perfect breasts. This image is what the society perceives as beautiful and perfect. Fashion shows and magazines have been known to contribute and promote potentially dangerous body image. According to Susan, essay, body images are shaped by magazines such as people magazine and lifetime movies. Such magazines have cover models that are pictured as having body images that are ideal and perceived by the society as perfect. Teenage girls exposed to such magazines have negative views about their own bodies. They are often faced with issues of self-esteem and self-image. Majority of them develop bad eating habits that may result to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (Jaffa and McDermott, 2007). It may also result to depression in cases where teenage girls fail to match up to the standards of models portrayed in magazines and other media sources. Eating disorders may be associated with dangerous effects such as mental and behavioral problems. These disorders inflict both long and short term mental effects due to the fact that disordered image is a habit. The dangerous mental health problems associated with eating disorders include anxiety, mood, impulse-control and substance use disorders. According to Susan’s essay, eating disorders result to self-hatred and shame due to the inability to achieve a desired image and weight. The other effect is cognitive problems and depression (Keel, 2005).The serious physical health problems associated with eating disorders include endocrine abnormalities, gastrointestinal problems, death, pulmonary problems and electrolyte abnormalities. Moreover, eating disorders are associated with dermatological changes and diminished bone mineral density. Hence, the disorders may have chronic and serious effects on an individual’s quality of life resulting in long-term psychological and interpersonal problems (Keel, 2005). The best way by which eating disorders can be prevented is through education and high self-esteem. It is essential for young people to realize that it is acceptable to be imperfect. They should also know that their bodies are beautiful just the way they are. Teenage girls should be encouraged to accept their bodies and not to try to alter themselves so that they can look like Hollywood characters portrayed in moves and magazines. It is essential to teach kids and adolescents ways through which they can scrutinize the media critically in order to filter out unrealistic images (Saad, 2007).Parents play a great role in their children’s development in terms of healthy attitudes about nutrition and food. The body image of a parent can influence that of her kids. It is appropriate for parents to emphasize oh health rather than weight. A wonderful gift that parents can give to their children is the message that their bodies are strong and healthy as they are. When this message is implanted in children’s mind, they can comfortably look and appreciate the attractiveness in Hollywood celebrities without attempting to try and look like them. Hence, parents who create healthy attitudes about exercise and food can be a perfect example for their children (Jaffa, 2007). Conclusion There has been a marked increase in eating disorders globally especially among adolescents. Exposure to media content such as videos and magazines is the major contributor to eating disorders. It is essential for parents to be perfect examples and role models to their children. They should encourage their children to love their bodies and appreciate themselves just the way they are. Therefore, parents can play a great role in preventing eating disorders. References Calvert, S. L., & Wilson, B. J. The Handbook of Children, Media, and Development. John Wiley and Sons, 2011. Jaffa, T., & McDermott, B. Eating disorders in children and adolescents. CambridgeUniversity Press, 2007. Keel, P. K. Eating disorders. Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. Saad, G. The evolutionary bases of consumption. Routledge, 2007.

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