How The Media Affects Eating Disorders
Some people don’t realize how the media affects eating disorders, but it really does. When wondering do magazines influence eating disorders, consider the fact that many models actually suffer from eating disorders themselves.
How Do Magazines Influence Eating Disorders?
The media affects eating disorders in many ways.
- Many magazines aimed at women and young girls advertise clothing that is designed for skinny people. In fact, many clothing designers do not even make clothing for average or plus sized women. Of course some companies do sell clothing for plus sized people but that clothing is not always as attractive as that made for thinner people and it’s not even available in some stores.
- Nearly all magazines feature skinny models. In fact, many of them are considered medically underweight. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the typical American woman weighs about 140 pounds while the typical fashion model weighs only 117 pounds. Readers may mistakenly assume that the fashion models represent the average size of women or believe that they represent the desirable size of women.
- Magazines for women and even many published for younger girls frequently feature articles about diets or the best way to lose weight. There is nothing wrong with women learning how to lose weight if they are overweight, of course, but the overabundance of such articles may encourage women to try to lose weight even when they don’t really need to. In fact, 46 percent of children ages nine to 11 report that they “sometimes” or “always” diet. In addition, the diets suggested in these magazines are not always nutritionally sound.
- One study of popular teen magazines found that a full 74 percent of fitness-related articles stressed becoming more attractive as a good reason to exercise regularly. Of course regular exercise is important but the excessive focus on appearance found in many magazines may contribute to the development of eating disorders.
Addressing Issues of How Media Affects Eating Disorders
If you’ve answered the question “Do magazines influence eating disorders?” with a “yes,” you probably want to know what can be done about the way the media affects eating disorders. Affecting change can be a challenging process and it won’t happen overnight, but there are things you can do.
- The National Eating Disorders Association suggests encouraging the media to show more diverse images of people, images that more closely represent real people. You can write letters to the editors of your favorite publications and the magazines your teenage children like to read to let them know how you feel about these issues.
- The National Eating Disorders Association also suggests encouraging magazine editors to include articles with more positive articles about health-related issues.
- You can take it a step further by encouraging magazine editors to include articles that raise awareness of eating disorders. Articles do not need to discuss the way the media affects eating disorders. However, they can describe common symptoms of eating disorders, discuss the serious and sometimes deadly consequences of eating disorders and explain what people should do if they or someone they know suffers from eating disorders.
- Become a critical viewer of media, including magazines. When reading magazines, remember to ask yourself how do magazines influence eating disorders. Ask yourself if the images you see are realistic and think about how they might influence the way you think about yourself and your weight.
- Encourage your children to become critical viewers of media as well. Talk to them about how do magazines influence eating disorders and make sure they understand that many of the images they see in magazines are not realistic and do not portray people with healthy weights.
More than how the media affects eating disorders on our effects of eating disorders page
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