In a survey of 9 and 10 year olds, 40% have tried to lose weight, according to an ongoing study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Body image does not just happen. It is a complex phenomenon influenced by many factors, including parents, friends, and social life. But it is known that the media plays a massive role in shaping body image through showing pictures of abnormally thin people. So many people are being exposed to the images in the media at a much younger age than in the past due to the fact that most young children have access to the internet via phones, tablets, computers, etc.
These media images give children the idea that they should have a body similar to the people in pictures at a very young age. When the children grow up, this idea continues to stick in their minds, which is a major factor in negative body image. This idea that they must look like people in magazines and on television can be very damaging for their minds. The fact that they want to achieve this body type can influence them to diet at a young age, and then possibly develop an eating disorder. So many people are completely and utterly obsessed with this nearly unobtainable body, which only 5% or American women possess aturally.
The media has a negative influence on body image and contributes to eating disorders greatly because, eating disorders are a growing problem, particularly among young women, magazines put a lot of emphasis on being thin, and encourage young girls to lose weight, which results in many young girls having dieted or wanting to diet, and many surveys and studies prove that people are negatively affected by the media portrayal of thin bodies. Anorexia, Bulimia, and other eating disorders are a growing problem in America. This is a problem that needs to be stopped. The National Institute of
Mental Health estimates that eating disorders affect more than five million American’s each year, which is an astounding number. Shockingly, approximately 5% of adolescent and adult women and 1% of men have anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, and 15% of young women have substantially disordered eating attitudes and behavior (“Body Image and Nutrition”). In addition to this, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that about 9,000 people admitted to hospitals were diagnosed with bulimia in 1994, the latest year for which statistics are available, and 8,000 were diagnosed with norexia.
I believe this number is much too high, and could be brought down with the right kind of help. Each year millions of people in the United States are affected by serious and sometimes life-threatening eating disorders. More than 90% of those are adolescent and young women. (“Body Image and Nutrition”). According to The Center for Mental Health Services, 90% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, and an estimated 1,000 of those women die each year of anorexia nervosa. (“Body Image and Nutrition”). This number is both shocking and sad, in my opinion. I wish so many eople were not suffering from something so awful.
As many as 1 in 10 college women suffer from clinical or nearly clinical eating disorders, and 5. 1% of college girls suffer from bulimia nervosa (“Body Image and Nutrition”). Shockingly, problems with eating disorders have increased over 400% since 1970. (Miller). This massive increase is most likely directly related to the fact that media exposure has increased very much since 1970, as well. Magazines put far too much emphasis on possessing a thin body. One in every three articles in leading teen girl magazines include a focus on appearance and most of the dvertisements (50%) used an appeal to beauty to sell their products. “Body image and Nutrition”).
This method, in my opinion, is wrong. Advertising is perhaps the most powerful medium for presenting unrealistic body types. Advertisers attract attention for their products by showcasing them with advanced techniques for retouching photographs, models’ bodies are often ‘improved’ by computers, giving viewers an unrealistic sense of what bodies look like naturally. (“Body Image”). Teen magazines such as Teen Vogue and Seventeen often contain articles about how to look slim. Research has ound that heavy readers of these magazines are twice as likely to engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors.
“Body Image”). Thousands of people believe models have the ideal ody, when in all reality, most models weigh an average of 23% less than a typical woman. Twenty years ago, the difference between models and average women was a mere 8%. (Miller). In addition to these shocking facts, a study of a popular magazine for teen girls found that 74% of all articles about fitness stated becoming more attractive was a good reason to exercise; articles did not recommend exercise as a way to become ealthier, just a way to become prettier. (““Media Influence on Body Image”). I think magazines need to put an end to this.
They should suggest exercise as a way to be healthy, because that’s all it is, people should not have to be thin to be considered pretty. In another study, 69% of girls concurred that models found in magazines had a major influence on their concept of what a perfect body shape should look like. (Miller). Approximately 80% of all ten year old girls have dieted at least once in their lives, according to recent data released by the Keep it Real Campaign. The fact that so many girls who haven’t even reached their teenage years yet have dieted proves how much of a problem this truly is.
As well as this, between 40 and 60 percent of children age 6-12 are worried about how much they weigh, and 70% would like to slim down. (Roberts). Sadly, 69% of 5th-12th graders reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body. (“Self-lImage/Media Influences”). I believe pictures of models and actresses should not influence somebody’s idea of a perfect body. Especially considering most pictures in magazines have been retouched and photo shopped o get rid of anything that could be considered a flaw.
So many people want to obtain this body they see in the media, when in fact it is almost always not a natural body. There has been quite a lot of interest in the media and the way it can affect body image throughout the years. Due to this interest, there has been many studies that prove the media negatively affects body image. Following the viewing of images of female fashion models, 7 out of 10 women felt more depressed and angry than prior to viewing the photos, and 80% of women who answered a people magazine survey responded that images of women on elevision and movies makes them feel insecure. “Self-Image/ Media Influences”).
Numerous correlational and experimental studies have linked exposure to the thin ideal in mass media to body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin body, and eating disorders among women. (“Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders”). The effect of the media on women’s body dissatisfaction, thin ideal internalization, and disordered eating appears to be stronger among young adults than children and adolescents.
This may suggest that long term exposure during childhood and adolescence lays the foundation for negative ffects of media during early adulthood. “Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders”). Though our body image is a compilation of several factors, recent evidence has suggested that a strong association exists between mass images and a woman’s perception of her ideal body. (“Body Image: It Isn’t Always what it Seems”). A study on 5th graders, 10 year old girls and boys told researches that they were dissatisfied with their bodies after watching a Britney spears music video or a clip from the television show “Friends” (“Body Image and Nutrition”).
Television, movies, and video games often show ideal or osmetically altered bodies in three dimensions, which give viewers a clear idea of what kinds of bodies are acceptable. Research has shown that watching mainstream television, particularly soap operas and music videos can increase young people’s drive for thinness. (“Body Image”). Another study found just ten minutes of exposure to music videos featuring thin performers led to a measurable increase in body dissatisfaction. (“Body Image- Music”).
It has been proven that girls who regularly watch reality television are significantly more likely to believe a girls looks are the most important thing about her, as ell as being more likely to say they would rather people recognize them for outer beauty that what’s inside. (“Body Image- Film and TV”). Teen People magazine conducted a recent survey. In it, they discovered that over 25% of the girls surveyed felt that the media makes them feel pressured to have a perfectly shaped body. (Miller).
A study done in 1996 found that the amount of time an adolescent watches soaps, movies, and music videos is associated with their degree of body dissatisfaction and desire to be thin. (“Body Image and Nutrition”). One study reports that at age 13, 53% of American irls are “unhappy with their own bodies. ” This grows to 78% by the time they reach 17. (“Body Image and Nutrition”). This suggests that as they are more exposed to the media and its portrayal of thin bodies, they become more dissatisfied with their bodies.
Researchers Lynda Boothroyd, Martin Tovee, and Thomas Pollet conducted studies in which females were shown pictures of women ranging in body sizes. The females were divided into groups, one group was shown pictures of thin models while the other group viewed pictures of larger models. They were questioned about their body size preferences before nd after viewing the designated images. Researchers found that preferences for thinness increased from before they viewed the pictures to after in women who were shown thin models.
In contrast, the group that was shown images of larger models had a decrease in preference for thinness. This study alone proves how horribly the media affects body image. Lead author of this study, Lynda Boothroyd, commented on these results in a press statement saying “This really gives us some food for thought about the power of exposure to super-slim bodies. There is evidence that being consistently surrounded by celebrities and odels who are very thin through the media contributes to girls and women having an unhealthy attitude towards their bodies. (“Body Image- it isn’t always what it seems”).
The National Eating Disorders Association shockingly reports that one in every 3. 8 television commercials conveys an “attractiveness message” telling viewers what is considered attractive in the eyes of the media and society. The typical American teen sees more that 5,260 of these “attractiveness messages” each year. A study found that most adolescent girls get the majority of their information about health from the media, which includes those “attractiveness messages”. ““Media Influence on Body Image”).
As you can see, media has a significant influence on body image and eating disorders. Eating disorders are a growing problem due to the media, magazines put emphasis on being thin, which encourages young people to aspire to be abnormally thin, and there are many studies that prove the media has a negative effect on body image. In my opinion, I think this is a problem that needs to be put to an end. The media should be required to stop putting so much emphasis on possessing a thin body. In my opinion, people do not have to be super thin to be beautiful. In fact, they do not have to be thin at all.
I also believe that a person’s personality is much more important than their looks. Having a great personality and treating people with kindness will get you much further in life than having a thin body. This is why I personally think that what is on the inside is much more important than what is on the outside. I believe that the media needs to stop portraying so many bodies that are abnormally thin, and start including models and actresses of all shapes and sizes. The media needs to make the people in it much more diverse, in order to help the many young girls who suffer from poor body image due to the media.