Many people falsely believe that anorexia arises by choice. However, recent studies suggest otherwise, and the reason may not be what you think. New research may provide sound evidence that the fashion industry and various media sources play a major role. How authentic are these studies? What are the reasons behind these ideas? This essay will answer these questions, dive into the validity of such claims, and will leave you wondering if this dark secret is truly accurate.
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With so many young people being glued to their phones and television screens, it is easy to see why they have false views in life including what they believe to be acceptable in society. This is no exception to thinking they need to be perfect, which can lead to destructive consequences. It is obvious that the media is everywhere. Media ranges from television, the internet, and magazines. It provides such a huge part of our lives. In fact, studies show that over eighty percent of people watch television each day, being an average of three hours (Lyons, 2017, para 16). Many shows and commercials feature women that are very thin and like sex objects with unrealistic body types (Lyons, 2017, para 16). In fact, models in magazines and beauty advertisements are littered with so much photoshop they don’t realize it is so unrealistic. “The National Eating Disorders Association”, has revealed that twenty percent of advertisements that are featured on television have a meaning behind them showing that being gaunt is “more attractive” than a regular weight. The average teenage in the United States has seen at least five thousand of these commercials every year (Lyons, 2017, para 16). It should come as no surprise that correlation exists between destructive eating behaviors and negative self-esteem. This new generation is being sucked into a fake reality which often leads to an assumption that young girls need to become excessively skinny to be attractive.
What might the reason be behind models and actresses being so thin? Well, it is shocking that the limit for becoming one is having a BMI of 16 which is considered dangerous by doctors and even leads to health problems and vitamin deficiencies (Gayle, 2017, para 4). In fact, Damien Gayle quotes that according to the World Health Organization, “there are guidelines that someone with a BMI of 18.5 or under is considered underweight, 18 is malnourished, and 17 is severely malnourished (Gayle, 2017, para 4). Why is Hollywood and pop culture so obsessed with the idea of a perfect body and look?” For many who want to have a career in these industries, eating disorders and starvation may be the only way to land a successful career (Lyons, 2017, para 10). In fact, research has shown that roughly sixty percent of models needed to become thinner and fifty percent were threatened to shred pounds or they would be terminated (Lyons, 2017, para 16). Anorexia and Bulimia in models are so abundant that a lot of celebrities are spreading awareness and publicly sharing their ideas (Lyons, 2017, para 10).
It should be very obvious and noticeable that models and movie characters are becoming slenderer, while such a massive number of American females have become considerably heavier. Television is not the only way to be exposed to this material. Alarmingly, studies propose that eighty-three percent of young ladies read “fashion magazines” for roughly four hours each week (Spettigue. as cited in Levine and Smolak, 1996, para 6). What is more surprising is the number of weight loss ads that are more prevalent in women’s magazines. In fact, Spettigue mentions that lady’s magazines contained ten times the number of diet products than men’s magazines (Spettigue, as cited in Anderson and Defomencio, 2004, para 3). Another shocking study that Spettigue mentioned was one that was published by Kilbourne in 1994. This study revealed that the main wish of young women aged eleven to seventeen was “to get thinner and keep it off” (Kilbourne, 1994, para 6). In addition, Kilbourne did another study proving the significant impact on the importance of weight loss in young women. Unfortunately, the study showed that young aged ladies who were asked what they might most want to change about their lives, and a great part of them said “their weight” (Kilbourne, 1994 para 6).
Without a doubt, the new body size standard is dwindling. On the contrary, many American women are getting larger. The media may deny claims about supporting anorexia. However, experts on eating disorders such as Kelly Brownell firmly disagree (Jade, 2012, para 9). Kelly Brownell is also a doctor and she provides impressive input showing irony surrounding celebrities. Kelly Brownell argues that eating disorder such as Anorexia and Bulimia have more a higher chance of occurring due to the media’s bad examples (Jade, 2012, para 9). A really fascinating fact she mentions is a phenomenon surrounding celebrities lately. Brownell argues that this “phenomenon” is what is commonly known as the Damaging Paradox (Jade, 2012, para 9). The Damaging Paradox is when media in current society promotes a low weight and perfect body. In an interesting way, they then advertise on their commercials nourishments high in fat and calories, while convincing consumers to buy these items (Jade, 2012, para 9). It should come as no surprise that actresses do not really eat these foods. In fact, consuming such calorie loaded foods would very unlikely in the corrupt world of Hollywood.
In addition to Anorexia, another eating disorder is becoming extremely common which is also being fueled by the media. Orthorexia, a form of eating disorder, is becoming more widespread in the media and is caused by a conscious desire for obsessive healthy eating and a fear of becoming obese (Woolf, 2015, para 15). Orthorexia can lead to behaviors in individuals such as hating themselves, confidence issues, “malnourishment”, and loneliness (Woolf, 2015, para 13). Orthorexia is also becoming increasing abundant in websites known as “thinspiration sites” which encourage eating disorders and go to extreme measures (Woolf, 2015, para 2). These new websites that do not gain any profit or satisfaction. Thinspiration sites literally encourage people to starve themselves by teaching them to suppress their appetite, chew on ice, and brush their teeth often to lose flavor of foods (Woolf, 2015, para 2) . In addition, they even suggest posting photos online of your thin body parts, and even try to give people tips on hiding these behaviors from your parents. It is depressing that these websites want you to purge and binge in private, which is when someone eats large amounts as once and then vomits everything back up (Woolf, 2015, para 2) . In as little as a couple years, hospitalizations from Anorexia and Orthorexia have skyrocketed. According to the NHS, “The number of teenagers being admitted to hospital with eating disorders has nearly doubled in just three years”, and there is no doubt that social media is to blame (Woolf, 2015, para 3).
Although there are attempts to set limits, the outcomes are usually unsuccessful. One idea setting a minimum BMI threshold for professional models (Rodgers, as cited in Record & Austin, 2015, p.1). Also, another possible method for allowing models to become curvier is by providing them meals and healthier working conditions. (Rodgers, 2017, para 33). However, this is easier said than done. In the United States, fashion models are generally considered to be independent contractors, not employees, which contributes to poor health and safety protections (Rodgers, 2017, para 33). There are ways, however, to cope independently. Doctors and researchers give advice on how to combat Anorexia at home. Although many people with Anorexia fail, they should never give up hope at least attempt some of these strategies. According to “The Student Nutrition Action Committee at UCLA”, they suggest the following as ways to counteract the negative media influence on body image listed below.
Spending money on products that improve your confidence and self-esteem. For example, things that are productive for you and that make you feel good such as weights, beautiful clothing, and nice haircuts that make you feel good. Doing this instead of spending money on fad diet products such as pills and shake increases your confidence and boosts mood. Stay off the scale and enjoy your weight, instead of worrying about a perfect body. Move your body by engaging in physical activity, without the goal of losing weight, but in a way that allows you to be in control of your body. Do activities that bring feelings of joy and relaxation by meditation or listening to peaceful music (The Student Nutrition Action Committee at UCLA, as sited in Media Influence on Body Image, 2018, para 4).
A surprising number of people are Anorexic. A common misconception about Anorexia is that it only affects adolescent women. Although this may be true to some extent, it has become increasingly common among older age women and young males. To give you an idea, the number globally is in the millions. Surprisingly, approximately thirty million Americans and eighty million people globally are diagnosed with anorexia alone (Eating Disorder Statistics, 2018, p.1). However, the mortality rate seems more horrifying. Unfortunately, twenty percent of people with anorexia will not survive, and one person will die each hour (Eating Disorder Statistics, 2018, p.1). To make matters worse, suicide may be the most common cause of death in Anorexia. Studies have proven that one in every ten people with Anorexia will die by taking their lives (Eating Disorder Statistics, 2018, p.1). Something obviously needs to be done. People must come to their senses that the media is brainwashing our youth. The people suffering from this disease need to fight back. We must realize that if television shows, websites and magazines do not change their ways, we need to.
Anorexia is a horrible disease and sufferers are growing up in a cruel and very judgmental world. Many people lack the proper guidance which results in Osteoporosis, malnourishment and weakness just because they believe it is the only way to please someone and feel comfortable. Although there may be methods to treat it, many people do not fully recover. I think that looking out for early warning signs and eliminating excessive exposure to television, Instagram and the internet may hopefully reduce the number of cases. Even though biological factor may play a role, it is obvious that there is significant correlation between fashion and the number of cases. Anorexia has become so abundant and more severe in the recent years that there is something else besides hereditary to blame for the soaring number of cases.
(Eating Disorder Statistics, 2018, p.1) Retrieved from http://www.anad.org: http://www.anad.org/education-and-awareness/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/ This website gave very valuable and accurate statistics about the prevalence and mortality rates of anorexia. I chose this article because it showed how serious and deadly this disease is and how it is a bigger problem than most people realize.
Gayle, D. (2017, May 6). Fashion models in France need doctor’s note taking to catwalk. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/may/06/fashion-models-france-doctors-note-thin-health-photographs Although I may have not used this website for much, the fact that I ripped from the article was very in depth and solid. I loved how Gayle broke down the different BMI measurements, clearly pointing to a dangerous weight.
Jade, D. (2012). The media & eating disorders. Retrieved
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