Influence Of The Media On Eating Disorder


Media is today part of the lives of the majority of people in our society. Majority of the people in our society have a television set or a radio transmitter. Daily newspapers and magazines are also accessed by majority of people in our society. Media is thus an important aspect of our life. It informs, entertains and educates but on the other hands media can have negative effects to the society. For example the media is accused for the growth of eating disorders in our society today. Media is used for advertising, through these adverts the opinions of the people toward various issues is affected. At the same time the media create an opinion over certain issues such a beauty through portraying figures and models in a certain way. By trying to associate with a certain model in the media, many women have adopted poor eating habits that pose them in severe health risks. This paper will explore the contribution of media to the eating disorder among women and the health risk posed by those eating disorders.

Statement of the problem

There is an increase of eating disorder health relate issues in our society to day. Many women have been found not to be taking regular and healthy food. The health problems associated with disordered eating habit are many. It can lead to failing health. Eating disorder will lead to serious health consequences. It leads the body to lack some of the necessary nutrients it requires in its functions and thus it can lead to the person falling sick. By lack of food nutrients, some of the body organs may fail and lead to severe health problems. Individuals who have disorders eating habit are prone to frequent depression (Nordquist, 1989). The strike of depression may lead to very dangerous depression related problems. Due to lack of enough calories and nutrients in their bodies, eating disorder victims usually lack mental concentration and forgetfulness. This state will affect the persons’ effectiveness in their work. For students this will severely affect their performance in the course work. For those operating machines and driving, lack of concentration would lead to accidents (Cumella, Edward, 2002). The habits of eating disorder victim usually lead them to avoid social places and events so as to avoid eating. This has the effect of alienating them from the society. They may also alienate themselves due to their inability to address their problems. Most of the women adopt the eating disorder out of trying to be beautiful (Nordquist, 1989). The notion of beauty is learned from the model and beauty

Influence Of The Media On Eating Disorder

images. Most of the women who eating disorders however are not aware of the health risk they put themselves in by their habits. Today media is responsible for creation of opinions. This being the case, the beauty images and models portrayed in the media influence the eating habits of women and lead to their eating disorders. The problem of study will be to study the effect of the media to eating disorder of women.

Problem background

The appearance of the thin models in the media usually send bad and dangerous toward the perception of beauty. At the same time the general fitness and fashion magazine create the notion of what is beautiful and acceptable and play a big role in promoting irregular and unhealthy eating patterns in women especially the young. In a study done on 232 young women is was observed that 15 percent of women met the criterion for being classified for disordered eating signs such as body dissatisfaction, drive for being thin, bulimia and perfectionism. The study also showed correlation of disordered eating habit with consumption of certain media products (Harrison, 1997). The drive for perfection and beauty is learnt. The society adopts the habits out of the social definitions created through the media. The Images of beauty portrayed on the media are usually unrealistic and sometime could not be naturally attained. The media however does warn their audience on this perfect beauty images and in consequence this unrealistic beauty becomes a trigger for disordered eating habits. The effects of eating disorders are many and vary depending on the group affected. In general eating disorder lead to health issues such as dehydration, tooth enamel erosion, effects of body immunity and to women it may affect the ability to get pregnant.

Although there are many reasons why a woman may adopt poor eating habits, the notion of beauty play a major role. Body images that appear in the media usually contribute to the major eating disorder. The TV shows, movies and the magazines watched by women usually influence their behaviors on eating habits. These products of the media usually bombard their audience with images of beauty which are not only unrealistic but also dangerous to the audience. The images are actually manufactured to hind the defects and show perfect nature of beauty that is not realistic (Muehlenkamp, Jennifer, Renee, 2002). The model and beauty images used by the media are usually universal and thus it creates a new and different opinion over beauty. Many women are very much attracted to beauty and they are willing to invest a lot on their beauty. Since most of the model a skinny thin then the women try to associate themselves with the images they see on the media and thus they adopt poor eating habits so as to attain such perfection of beauty. In a study, it was showed that most of the women who had eating disorder

Influence Of The Media On Eating Disorder

had a tendency of watching beauty programs or reading beauty and fitness magazines (Harrison, 1997).

Almost every modern homestead has a television set. Watching of television programs have become acculturated in our society. Since television is part of our homestead the children are brought up spending most of their free time watching the television. The child is exposed to many and frequent advertisement. These advertisement can be as much six hundred. Most of these advertisement use model to send their messages (Bissell, Kimberly, Peiqin, 2004). During the development of the child, the television becomes a major contributor to the child’s opinions. To a young girl, the images portrayed in the media, representing beauty becomes the reality. Thus the child grows up having a very unnatural definition of beauty which can not be attained in the natural way.

Most of the eating disorders are observed with young women and adolescent girls. During adolescent age and the early adult hood a woman is very much concerned with beauty. It is at this stage of human development that most women go for beauty product so as to enhance their beauty (Bissell, Kimberly, Peiqin, 2004). In the media at least one out of the ten advertisements are for beauty products. These beauty advertisements are associated with a model. These models are usually skinny thin and have enhanced beauty perfection. The young women are not informed by the media that models presented usually had undertaken plastic surgery in order to attain their perfection. In addition the images presented in the media are manufactured and do not represent the real person. By trying to associate with the models used in advertising the beauty products they use, young women adopt disordered eating habit.

Every advertisement in the media is a human construction. The advertisement is constructed to send a certain message to the audience. The aim of an advertisement is to convince the potential buyer to buy a certain product (Muehlenkamp, Jennifer, Renee, 2002). Thus the advertiser is ready to use any means to send his or her message. Increased competition in the beauty products leads the company to run very aggressive advertisement. These advertisements are modeled in a way that they will attract the attention of the majority of audience (Kubersky, Rachel, 1992). Due to this extreme images of beauty are used. These images are deceiving and lead many women to adopt poor eating habits so as to attain the beauty portrayed in the media.

Influence Of The Media On Eating Disorder

Most of television programs, movies and magazine portray people with heavy weight in the wrong light. Although heavy weight is also a health threat, the media does not put a clear cut definition of what is heavy weight and what if not. By portraying the heavy weight as not being beautiful some women adopt weight reducing programs that are not healthy (Muehlenkamp, Jennifer, Renee, 2002). By so doing these women may suffer from eating disorder.

Eating disorder is a major problem in women artist and models. The models and artist try to attain some perfection of beauty by disregarding proper eating habits (Website on Eating Disorder, 2009). The motivation of these sacrifices made by the artists and models is usually to make them more appealing to the audience. For example movie artist would do so that they can be appealing to their audience.

Popular magazine have been using thinner super models for their cover page and for advertisement. On the other hand the modeling agencies are reported as pursuing anoxic models. The average weight of these models is about 25% less than that of a normal and healthy woman. There weights are about 20 percent than the weight recommended as healthy (Website on Eating Disorder, 2009). Despite the sacrifices made by the model to attain the perfect look, their photo are air brushed before going to print. The image thus presented to the public is extremely exaggerated.


Media is an every day aspect of the majority of homestead in our society. Many of the families in our family spend most of their time before their television. In addition, other media product such as magazines, movies, new papers are accessed by most of the people. These media product are useful for educating and informing the mass. However the media achieves its objects by creating an opinion in the peoples over these subjects. The creation of opinions is usually gradual and unnoticed. By influencing the opinions of people the media will thus influence their

Influence Of The Media On Eating Disorder

behaviors and tendencies. The effect in the behavior of people could have positive effects or negative effects. The effects of the media to the eating behavior of women could be evaluated.

During their development of a child, the images portrayed in the media become the only reality that is created in her. When the images of beauty are constantly and frequently portrayed in the media they reinforce the notion created by the images. It is true that the images of beauty portrayed in the media are usually unnatural and exaggerated. They reflect a very unrealistic beauty that may not be attained in the natural way. Thus a girl child develops having these notions of beauty in her. When the child grow up then the child would try to attain the beauty she had attained in her mind through the media. Since this notion of beauty is not realistic then the child may not be able to achieve the beauty through the natural and healthy means. Frustrated of trying to achieve the beauty the child may be tempted to adopting unhealthy eating habits that would lead eating disorders.

Beauty products are usually advertised by the use of skinny thin models. The advertisements are constantly run in the media. With the frequent running of advert, the women audiences develop a psychological association of beauty with the skinny thin model. To attain this shape most women use slimming pills and develop unhealthy eating habits that lead to eating disorder.

Most young women are very concerned about their beauty. The media, through frequent adverts and programs portray beauty as a measure of acceptability of a woman in the society. Since these women would want to be accepted in their society they do every thing possible to achieve the beauty. The notion of beauty used, however, is a human construction that is passed through the media. This notion is made to be a reality by the constant association of beauty with the model that is used in the adverts.

The media usually portray feminine nature of women by using skinny thin models. Many women usually want to show their feminine nature. As feminine nature is associated with the skinny model portrayed through the media. To achieve the feminine nature, thus, many women adopt

Influence Of The Media On Eating Disorder

poor and unhealthy eating habit that lead to eating disorder.

The reality of beauty is very different from the beauty portrayed in the media. The models used in the media usually undergo plastic surgery and other beauty enhancements. In addition the images showed in the media are manufactured so as to create the unrealistic perfection of beauty. These images then are deceiving to the women audience. The real beauty is natural and healthy. Extremely skinny thin models portrayed in the media are unhealthiness but the media does not tell the audience on that.

Eating disorder poses very dangerous health effects to a woman. The eating disorder deny the body most of the nutrient that is required for body development. Denying the body these nutrients may pose the person to very severe health risks. Some of the body organs of the body may fail and pose the woman to a permanent health risk Women with other sickness such as diabetes may be posed to severe health risk if they ignore their health in pursue of beauty. For pregnant women the health risk if not only to the woman but also to the child. The woman be at risk of losing her life and her child by denying herself enough calories and nutrients necessary during pregnancy.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Eating disorder poses a woman to very severe health risks. The main reason leading women to adopt unhealthy eating habits have been seen to be pursuit of beauty. The beauty pursued by the women is not the natural beauty but the perception of beauty portrayed in the media. The media plays a very major role in development the extreme and unrealistic notions of beauty. These unrealistic perceptions of beauty are associated with the models used in the advertisements and artist portrayed through the media. These perceptions of beauty become a reality in the women minds and they use the images as the parameter for measuring their beauty. Unable to achieve the perception through the natural ways, then, the women adopts unhealthy eating habits.

Influence Of The Media On Eating Disorder

The health of a woman should be her first priority. The women make their own initiative by finding information of the proper way for pursuing beauty. To protect the women from the effects of eating disorder, all the stake holders should unit in educating the women on the risks of eating disorder. The Beauty products company should be prevented from using extremely skinny thin model that create a bad notion of beauty to the user of their products.

Modeling agencies should take more responsibility for the danger they pose their model to by using extreme standards. The authorities should however intervene and put standard on weight that a model should achieve.

On the other hands the family should create a better environment for development of their children. For example the taking of long hours watching the television should be prevented and instead the children should be motivated to adopt other ways of passing their time.

Without all the stake holders intervene, many women will continue to suffer unnecessarily for a perfection that can not be reached. Thus more concerted effort should be made to correct the situation and lead to healthy women in the society.


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Influence Of The Media On Eating Disorder

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