Eating Disorders and the Media

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, between 2.5 and 4% of the teen population have either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Today’s media is partially responsible for this issue. Many young teens see the unrealistic figures in advertisements, toys, and celebrities, and go to drastic measures in order to achieve that look. These figures in the media cause teens to use extremely unhealthy tactics. They convince teens to believe if they aren’t skinny, they aren’t beautiful. Young adults are being taught ‘thin’ is good and ‘fat’ is bad.

Recently Drop Dead ads were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming the model’s clearly visible ribs, hips, and collar bones would negatively influence the young audience who would wear the clothing. In many cases, advertisement companies enhance the thin look using makeup, lighting, and even alterations using technology. The ads seen on billboards and television show extremely thin women in skimpy clothing, showing off their bones. These are the models broadcasted in the media that encourage teens to look like a skeleton. Not often does the media include larger models, and even less often do teens aspire to look like the few that are.

Apart from the common ridiculously thin models in the advertisements, toys also sell the thin image. In 1959 when the original Barbie doll was released, she had a fairly realistic shaped body. Today, Barbie’s dimensions have changed drastically. Of life size dimensions, Barbie’s bust would be 38”, her waist would be 18”, her hips would be 34”, she would stand around 6’ tall, and weigh only 120 pounds. The average woman has a bust of 36.5”, a waist of 30”, hips of 41”, stands 5’4” tall, and weighs 145 pounds. Toys such as Barbie, made for young children, teach them that women should look like Barbie, although it is unrealistic and near impossible.

Celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe during the pinup era were an average of today’s size eight. Celebrities today are rarely over a size one. However, during Marilyn Monroe’s time, nobody questioned her beauty due to her weight. Today, celebrities such as Heidi Montage of, The Hills, are pushing the limits of a human achieving the ‘Barbie body.’ Celebrities such as she lose dangerous amounts of weight, and acquire those looks through painful, not to mention expensive, plastic surgery procedures. These results are not natural, let alone realistic. These celebrities pave the road for teens who are brainwashed into thinking thin is beautiful.

Society today advertises unrealistically thin figures. Teens make it their mission to achieve the stick figure by any means necessary, regardless of the risk to their health. They are taught through advertisements, toys, and celebrities that being bigger is unacceptable. These culprits often cause eating disorders in teens that desire to attain the thin look broadcasted throughout the media. It is important to remind the designers and modeling agencies that they are trying to sell their product, not the model’s body. They need to keep in mind that they are selling to average sized buyers, so they should look for average sized models to model their product. If advertisement companies, toy producers, and celebrities keep in mind the message they’re putting out there for impressionable teens, maybe teenagers wouldn’t be so determined to put their health at risk to achieve unrealistic standards.





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