Social Issues / Media And Anorexia

Media And Anorexia

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Autor:  anton  10 March 2011
Tags:  Anorexia
Words: 1338   |   Pages: 6
Views: 278

Media Exposure and Anorexia

The problem of anorexia is a very serious societal problem. Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by self starvation. Anorexia is a very complex, often chronic, illness with physical and psychological ramifications. It is not just a problem with food or weight. It is attempt at using food and weight to deal with psychological and emotional problems (Sysko et al.). Disturbances in eating behavior are defining features of eating disorders. Patients with anorexia nervosa severely restrict dietary intake. Out of every two hundred Canadian girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen, one will develop anorexia to some degree (Dove Beauty Campaign). This number is what upsets me. It may seem like a small number to you, but if you look at it in comparison, it is too many, thus the interest in this topic. I deal with very few teenage girls affected by this illness in my work and am seeking more information. Dove states what kind of home an anorexic patient comes from, “Anorexia nervosa patients typically come from white, middle to upper-middle class families that place heavy emphasis on high achievement, perfection, eating patterns and physical appearance.” This was even more surprising to me. Anorexia is mostly a problem because of the standards that are a part of today’s society. Most young girls believe that if they weighed a certain weight or looked a certain way, they would be really happy. Their self esteem is the major problem. Most problems with self esteem can start as early as grade school. In “Diary of an Anorexic Girl”, Morgan Menzie says about the kids that teased her when she was young, “I never wanted to give them another reason to tease me, which is probably one of the many things that led me to become anorectic”. She wasn’t even overweight. She had a thin body frame, but her family had a history of weight problems, so she became worried that she would be overweight (Menzie). Just because overweight people weren’t accepted, she was worried about her generic makeup. Dove states a reason why they turn to their diet for control, “The patient has a lack of control in all other areas of their life so they turn to that of food. This seems to be the only aspect of their life they can control, in their mind”. In Morgan’s case this was very true. She states “I had no confidence whatsoever, so I took control over the one thing I could - which was my diet”.

Anorexia is very serious and can be very fatal. I believe that this is a huge problem in today’s society and we need to deal with it. There can be a solution to the problem. Most everybody can even prevent the problem, but it must be a joint effort. Plain and simple, society must be more open-minded and accepting. The truth is that everyone needs to be willing to accept people for who they are. Every single person must believe that they are a unique person for a reason. If people look at the situation realistically, they would have realized a long time ago that there is no normal. Normal is absolutely unattainable, because there are too many different opinions of “normal”. People should realize that they are different and accept it for what it is a reality. It is unrealistic to actually have a normal person. Every single person has some little idiosyncrasy that makes them a unique person. Believe it or not, every single person that has ever lived or will ever live will be their own person. Not a single person living or dead will ever be the same as anyone else before or after them. This makes it very completely impossible for there to be a normal. I believe that if we accept each and every person as an individual we would be able to raise above all the self esteem problems that exist in our society today. Anorexic people are crying out to the public. They want nothing more than to be accepted. If we as a society would only look beyond all physical attributes to the person inside the body, we would be happier. I think that the people that tease endlessly are only insecure with themselves so they lash out at others to hide their problems with themselves. is there any other way to prevent low self esteem? I mean really think about it. What else could we do to prevent something we are not really sure is happening until it is too late. We don’t really know of all of the people that have low self esteem, until they do go to the extreme of an eating disorder, or as far as suicide.

The media also plays a very important role in forming the stereotypes that young people, men and women, are following in our society. Adolescents are active consumers of messages broadcast on radio and television, printed in magazines, distributed on the Internet, and presented in video games. The media passively reinforce gender and ethnic stereotypes (Kehily, M. J.). We should vary the types of people in the media spotlight. We should realize all people for their wonderful qualities above appearance. We should eliminate all of the hoopla about diet products. Get rid of Jenny Craig, Metabolife, Slim Fast, or any other product that makes us doubt our appearance. All these products are doing is damage. I realize that some of the people that lose all of the weight feel better about themselves. Think about it though, if they were happy with themselves in the first place they would have felt good to begin with. The fact of the matter is, people need to be publicized because of everyday things we take for granted. We as a society should break down all of the racial and sexual barriers that lower self esteem. People should be able to accept others and treat them with respect. Every person that you meet can teach you something. We should learn to open our hearts and minds to the idea of differences bringing us together. A big part of anorexia is that you see yourself as less of a person. We have to accept ourselves before we can begin to live a happy life. I know that it isn’t other peoples fault all of the time. I also know we can’t blame others for our problems, but we should learn to be able to share responsibility. If every person was a little more accepting, we wouldn’t question our worth to begin with.

The six types of media primarily used by teenagers-television. commercials, films, music videos, magazines, and advertisements-- present very similar and consistent messages and images concerning body image. The problem begins externally. The problem must be addressed at the mass media level. I applaud Dove for reaching out to real women through its real beauty campaign. If we, as a generation, could begin to teach the younger generations this concept of acceptance, less young people would be afflicted with this terrible illness. Most importantly I have learned that in order to deal with the overwhelming illness of Anorexia, we must first deal with the root causes, namely self-esteem and the media messages sent to our young people that influences their sense of self and well being. As a professional I will incorporate teachings about the influence of the media and stereotypes upon youth into my groups and individual counseling.


A.U. (April 1, 2004)”Anorexia nervosa” American Family Physician,

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.

Kehily, M. J. (1999). More sugar? Teenager magazines, gender displays and sexual learning. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 2, 65-89.

Menzie, M (2003). Diary of an Anorexic Girl. Nashville: W Publishing Group.

R. Sysko, B. Walsh, J. Schebendach, G. Wilson (Sept, 2005) “Eating behavior among women with anorexia nervosa” Nutrition Research Newsletter Retrieved March 22, 2006 from

Strasburger, V. C. (1995). Adolescents and the media: Medical and psychological impact. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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