Thanks A Lot Vanity Fair, Now I Have An Eating Disorder...

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For a couple years now, people have been making claims that pop culture and the media have influenced women to contract eating disorders. While currently there is some research going on to find a biological basis for these disorders, I personally feel that the leading cause is the media's idea of "beauty" and the 20 inch waistlines that are splattered across every newsstand and checkout line. An article published in 2007 ( discusses a study conducted here at the U which "found that girls who were frequent readers of magazine articles about dieting and weight loss were more likely to engage in unhealthy weight-control behaviors five years later." I can say with a significant degree of certainty that having images of underweight "models" (in the fashion sense as well as the observational learning sense) in every ad and photograph causes women to second guess whether or not their body weight is acceptable. In the U's study high school and middle aged girls were surveyed on their height, weight, etc. and several other variables. "The odds of engaging in extreme behaviors such as vomiting or taking laxatives were three times higher in the group that read the most, compared with those who did not read such magazines."
The advertisements themselves are the classic "Bobo doll study" just in a different setting. You see skinny, "beautiful" women being adored by equally attractive guys. The way they look is being rewarded with attention and hunky men, and so young impressionable girls who want both of those things are willing to do just about anything to recreate their "model". Another study ( , suggested that "Beauty magazines become 'how-to' manuals to help women suffering from eating disorders in their attempts to obtain an elusive and impossible standard of physical thinness."
There have been so many studies involving the media's portrayal of women's bodies and eating disorders it's hard to ignore the claim's replicability. While it is possible that genetics have a hand in things, the most obvious and abundant factor for eating disorders remains, in my opinion, American culture's focus on weight and appearance. Drowning in a sea of Kate Moss spreads and repeatedly being shown images of thinness being rewarded and revered creates a rather simple explanation for women developing eating disorders.

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This page contains a single entry by fisch801 published on November 4, 2011 4:56 PM.

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