THE EFFECT OF MEDIA ON EATING DISORDERS ON TEENAGERS
‘You’re eating AGAIN? But you just had breakfast!’, ‘The school cafeteria should be grateful for your continuous and loyal patronage!’, and ‘Have you gained weight? The uniform looks a little snug on you, don’t you think?’ are just a few of the commonly heard phrases among my peers at school, especially girls. Now, more than ever, teenagers are coerced to be overly concerned about their weight, their shape, their size, and their overall body image. This has led to a wormhole of health issues that seemed unheard of in the past.
Recent studies have proposed that the amount of eating disorders has raised over the last 50 years among teen girls. The reported frequency rate for anorexia nervosa is 0.48% among girls 15 to 19 years old. About 1% to 5% of adolescent girls meet the basis for bulimia nervosa. Little is known about how these body image- and weight-related concerns arise and these actions have been suggested as risk factors for the development of anorexia nervosa. Researchers have also shown that the media contributes to the development and maintenance of eating disorders.
Early research has been examining the role of the media in eating disorders that are focused on reducing weight over time of models, actresses, and beauty pageant contestants– the same people who are held up as ideals of beauty.
THE EFFECT OF MEDIA ON EATING DISORDERS
Today, we teenagers grow up in a world filled with mass media (television, films, videos, billboards, magazines, movies, music, newspapers, fashion designers, and the Internet) which have created a social context that may also contribute to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in girls and women.
If you pay heed to mainstream media, you’ll no doubt find that it usually sends a clear idea that thin, white, and able bodies are the most appealing and that all other bodies have less value. In addition, beauty products and diets are advertised, especially to women, as a way to attain that so-called needed body. Actually, millions of dollars are spent each year marketing both the beauty and diet industries. This results in men and women constantly being displeased with their body and their overall physical appearance.
Research has also shown that teenagers usually report body dissatisfaction, with teen boys having less body dissatisfaction than girls. Teen girls usually want to weigh less, while teen boys want to be large and hefty. An analysis of 25 studies examined the result of exposure to media images of the thinner body ideal.
Body image was notably more negative after viewing thin media pics than after viewing pics of either normal size models or plus-size models. This effect was found to be stronger in women younger than 19 years of age.
A wonderful debater in my class refuses to take part in debates for fear of going on the stage and being laughed at. Sadly, this is the world we live in today, where all our virtues and vices boil down to how good we look.
If like me, you also see your friends heavily editing and photo-shopping their display pictures before putting them on social media, refusing to get their pictures taken for fear of ‘looking unappealing’, being afraid to talk about their looks for fear of being mocked, then, like me, you should also step up.
We need to collectively speak out that our self-worthiness does in no way reflect our physical appearance. The day we place less emphasis on our appearance, and more on our innate skills and abilities is the day we will reach our true potential.
I hope now you understood the effect of media on eating disorders on teenagers and how we can overcome it.