We live in a media-saturated world and do not control the message. In the United States alone, millions of women and men are fighting a potentially life-threatening battle with an eating disorder.
Mass media provides a significantly influential context for people to learn about body ideals and the value placed on being attractive. Over 80% of Americans watch television daily. One average, these people watch over three hours per day.
American children engage in increasing amounts of media use, a trend fueled largely by the growing availability of internet access through phones and laptops. And on a typical day, 8-18-year-olds are engaged with some for of media for about 7.5 hours. While most of the time is spent watching television, children also play video games, which last for more than an hour per day, and are on their computers for more than an hour per day.
Have you ever paid attention to what your kids are watching? Most shows on television are aimed at elementary school aged children, such as animated cartoons and children’s videos, that emphasize the importance of being attractive.
Sexually objectified images of girls and women in advertisements are most likely to appear in men’s magazines. Yet the second the most common source of these images are advertisements in teen magazines directed at adolescent girls.
It’s important to be aware of the dangers surrounding eating disorders and the need for early intervention and treatment.
There is no single cause of body dissatisfaction or disordered eating. However, research shows that there is an increasingly clear media message that contributes and exposes pressures of ‘how we’re supposed to look.’ The media wears a ‘thin’ mask.
The effect of media on women’s body dissatisfaction, thin ideal internalization, and disordered eating, is stronger among young adults than children and adolescents. This may be because there was a long-term exposure during childhood and adolescence years, which laid the foundation for the negative effects of media during early adulthood.
On the contrary, Hispanic and Black girls and women who watch more black-oriented television have higher body satisfaction.
Pressure from mass media to be muscular also appears to be related to body dissatisfaction among men. This effect may be smaller than women, but is still very significant in today’s culture. Young men seem to be more negatively affected by the media images than adolescent boys are.
If you are affected or know someone who is or may be, the National Eating Disorder Association provides messages of prevention, hope and recovery.
Toll Free National Help Line: 1.800.931.2237. Monday-Thursday, 9AM – 9PM and Friday from 9AM – 5PM.
For more information, visit: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
The National Eating Disorder Association, or NEDA, supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care.
Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males.
For a full list of symptoms and things to look for, please visit: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/types-symptoms-eating-disorders
Negative body image can be one of the first triggers of an eating disorder and one of the final and toughest stages of recovery.
Body Image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or at a picture of yourself, and how your mind plays off from that image.
Understanding that everybody and every body is different…learning to love and embrace who you are is important. Genetics influence bone structure, body size, shape, and weight differently in every person.
Listen to your body! Eat what you want, when you are truly hungry. Stop when you’re full. And eat exactly what appeals to you. Do this instead of any diet, and you are unlikely to ever have a weight problem, let alone an eating disorder.
Recovery is a team process. Your treatment team should be made up of people who love and embrace you for exactly who you are. They are positive. They are supportive. They fill you with hope, laughter, love and smiles.
Taking care of your body and doing things that you enjoy will enable you to enjoy a happy, participatory life.
“…It is amazing what happened after that. It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t overnight. It wasn’t a glamorous ‘aha’ moment like I saw in the movies. It’s still a project in the making and I still struggle. But changes are happening, and I’ve never been more excited to see what the next few years will bring.” – Florence C. – Stories of Hope Project
There is Hope.