An important element in human culture is the media. There are over 1.4 billion television sets in the world today. According to the National Centre For Eating Disorders, about 95% of households have access to TV sets and are stick to the television for an average of 4 hours per day. By the end of the 20th century, 50% of women and 60% of men read a newspaper daily, and approximately 50% of all girl read a ladies’ magazine every week. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, one in every four television commercials sells an “attractiveness message” communicating to viewers the standards of attractiveness. These adverts put across the message that extreme thinness is fashionable and desirable than normal body weight.
Additionally, Levin and Murnen say that people interact with a large pool of media such as movies, online via social media and apps. Each media has its content and purpose that affect humans in different ways (26). The purpose of the media is to entertain, inform, persuade and influence. However, there is a particular form of influence that is quickly getting attention which is the ability to cause eating disorders. Eating disorders are serious and fatal illnesses caused by disturbances in an individual’s eating behavior.
Bulimia, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are some of the common eating disorders. Anorexic people are usually obsessed with the thin body and end up reducing the amount of food intake. They entirely skip meals and if, at all they eat, they restrict the number of calories they ingest. Some exercise strenuously and substitute the amount of food they don’t eat with laxatives (Ferguson et al. 6). People with Bulimia eat large amounts of food and then induce vomiting to keep their weight in check while also taking laxatives and engaging in unhealthy exercises. Binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating is associated with eating abnormally large amounts of food eventually leads to obesity (Ferguson et al. 8). Social and cultural factors such as the media, movies, and advertisements contribute to eating disorders in the following ways.
Millions of advertisements run on TV every year, and a huge percentage of the advertisements sell to viewers images suggesting that they should lose weight and become thin because that is the current standard of beauty. TV commercials and programs show pictures of women and men with medium-sized or thin bodies with fitting clothes ingraining into the viewers’ minds that is the perfect body type and everyone should work towards achieving the suggested body type. The TV also sells viewers the portrayal that overweight people are lazy and that thin women and muscular men are associated with success, power, money, and popularity. It is difficult to tell the young ones that people are judged by the content of their character and not the shape of their bodies when the media keeps contradicting this message (Polivy, and Herman 3). To achieve the ‘media’ body, people especially young boys and girls resort to poor eating habits in either the anorexic or bulimic way.
The world’s popular fashion magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Flaunt, and Allure among others usually have in their covers photos of thin models, and they are continuing to consider even thinner models. The more young women view these photos, the more they become dissatisfied with their bodies and are tempted to take drastic measures. Top modeling agencies in the United States such as Silent, Ford, and IMG have been accused of pursuing only Anorexic models. Because the United States is the trendsetter in the fashion industry, the Anorexia agenda is spreading fast throughout the whole world. For example, in India, New Woman, Elle, Femina, and Woman’s Era among others have picked up the trend, and Indian youths are following the trend (Mannat M et al. 10). The average weight of a model is 25% less than the average weight of a typical woman and is 15% to 20% below the healthy weight. Before model photos are published on magazine covers, they first go through a powerful photo editing tool for fine tuning and airbrushing. The final touch that appears on the magazine sells the idea that the bodies are achievable while in a real sense they are unobtainable normally. This causes some rush to achieve the ‘media’ body by engaging in poor eating trends.
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