Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Big Bad Media

How many of you have heard that the media “influences young girls to have thinner bodies?” That it “creates undue pressure to be thin” or that it “supports unrealistic stereotypes of women.”
Yeah yeah, we know. There are a lot of sources that talk about media being a huge influence on the development of eating disorders.
I don’t doubt that the media doesn’t help, but does it really cause problems? Personally, my ED has nothing to do with media. I developed anorexia when I was 13, when my family didn’t have a big TV and didn’t let me watch it until after dinner. And then in tenth grade I didn’t read any fashion magazines, I didn’t watch diet shows, and again I didn’t really watch TV until after dinner. Seeing thin actresses don’t make me think I’m too fat, and they certainly don’t make me think EDs are the route to go to lose weight.
Of course, I’m not everyone, but I would hazard a guess and say that it’s the people around us, not media, that actually have the influence. For instance, there are claims that the media promotes unrealistic standards for women. Well, I see thin women around me every day at my school. In fact, usually I don’t see much of a difference between their body shapes and the ones I see on TV. When I developed my ED, it was from looking around me and thinking “crap, I’m fatter than everyone else here” rather than swooning over some actress’s body.
As a side note, why do people say that actress’s and model’s bodies aren’t “real bodies?” I get that they’re airbrushed and made up to look good, but if you watch them live there’s not really any way they can change their body shape all that much. Isn’t it mean to tell them their bodies, which they probably work hard on to please everyone, aren’t real? Plus, I don’t understand why people can say that about women in the media when there are women we see every day in normal life with bodies like these. Are their bodies fake too?
I do think that excessively watching diet shows like Secret Eaters or Biggest Loser could have an influence on how you think about what you eat. Shows like these paint food as if it were an enemy, and they’re often triggering for me. However, I doubt that people would excessively watch them if they didn’t already have skewed values about food, in which case the media again didn’t really do much damage, it just didn’t help anything.
The exception to this is if a parent watches the shows a lot and her child accompanies her on the couch.
What do you think? Does the media influence the development of eating disorders? 


  1. no
    i don't believe this at all
    i think that it gives you more reason to be thin but the development of eating disorders is due to many genetic, environmental and social factors - it's all chemicals and shit. the media worsens it yes but mostly by projecting stereotypes of diseases but not actually going in depth with the fact that most bulimics look like very normal people for example
    they just aggravate it to the point where an anoretic feels like she has to be that severely emaciated to even begin to be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. it does push us, but not in development i don't think
    my development of an ED was due to my Mother pushing me into losing weight at an early age and basically forced me to crash diet until this idea implemented in me that if i lost weight, she'll get off my back so i did.
    and look at where i am now. the media had 0% effect on me. but it did push me when i had developed one. it's nothing to do with developing one i think thugh
    -Sam Lupin

  2. Like you Emily I don't believe that media causes eating disorders
    They don't help for sure but you can't blame them
    For me, my eating disorder was a mixture of genetics, environment and just plain bad luck
    In the beginning my anorexia had nothing to do with weight
    All I knew was that not eating made me feel good
    It's all too easy to blame the media
    It's much harder to look at ourselves
    Watching actresses and models on tv doesn't trigger me
    But if I saw a skinny girl walking by me, that for sure would trigger me
    I absolutely hate thinspo
    I think it's such a ridiculous concept
    So no I don't think the media can be blamed x

  3. I had an eating disorder before I even knew what eating disorders were. The media certainly didn't cause my ED. I can't speak for others, but I know the development of mine had nothing to do with the thin women I saw on t.v. or in magazines. Come to think of it I wasn't watching t.v. shows about thin women and I was too young for most magazines. Although when Ally McBeal was on the air and I was in grade 6 or 7, Calista Flockhart struck a cord with me unlike anyone else had before. I was already ED involved, but the stick thin images of her did encourage me. That is not what cause my issues though. I think a lot of people who have never had disordered eating, or know anyone that has, thinks it's because of the media that eating disorders develop. My future mother-in-law said something about that when I first met her, and for the life of me, it's the first thing I think about every time I see her. She of course wouldn't have said anything I'm sure if she had been aware of my struggles. I think I'll always remember how she feels about it.


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