The Media Weighs In | Teen Ink

The Media Weighs In

May 29, 2014
By LyddieD723 GOLD, Cary, North Carolina
LyddieD723 GOLD, Cary, North Carolina
15 articles 0 photos 1 comment

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"There comes a time in life when you have to let go of the pointless drama. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard you forget the bad and focus solely on the good. After all, life is too short to be anything but happy."

It is not an instinct that creates the desire to be thin, but the idea is formed by public opinions. In today’s technologically advanced society, media is easily accessible to a majority of the population. Because of this, such media heavily influences all aspects of human life. People pay attention to television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and advertisements to keep up with social trends. Constant exposure causes these social views to become common knowledge. Even if people feel as though they keep their opinions independent from that of the media, they subconsciously retain some of the same ideas. Issues arise because the media is perceived to report the news, which of course must be true in the eyes of the public. Miscommunication between sources and viewers causes incongruent thoughts that become widespread. This trust that the public has formed for the media causes people to fall deeper into believing everything they hear. The media’s severe influence on defining success, fashion, and dieting changes the world’s state of mind. The promotion of these three things from the media causes many people to develop eating disorders.

The media’s spotlight is always on the success of celebrities, most of which are thin and beautiful. Such portrayal of success alters the public’s common definition of beautiful. Success is rightfully glorified, but along with the deserved praise every detail of the person is analyzed by the media. This speculation removes the focus from the achievements and redirects it to how much weight they have lost, what designer they are wearing, what make up they use, and other superficial pieces of information. Such intense limelight on celebrities creates a ridiculous emphasis on thinness with which young girls become obsessed with. This provides “important” context for people to understand body ideals and the value that has been placed on being attractive (“Media”). Attractiveness begins to dominate all aspects of life including success, beauty, and health. Young girls look up to the successful women they see on television for inspiration. Now, instead of feeling empowered by their idol’s achievements, girls become extremely self-conscious in comparison. The notion that “success and worth are often equated with being thin” is sickening, but is commonly believed to be true (“Anorexia”). This ideology causes many people to go to extremes to achieve the thin success they so desire. Participants do not realize that their self-worth is being undermined with superficial ideas. Because of the illusory correlation between thinness and success, onlookers cannot see past the bodies of celebrities to what they should actually be admiring. In this way, the media has driven many people to strive unhealthily for the myth of perfection that has been etched into their minds by popular culture.

Not only do celebrities have a strong impact on this issue, but the fashion industry itself creates these negative body images in many females. Skinny models and the promotion of size zero are leading causes of self-consciousness in girls. Because “fashion is a mirror, many girls imitate what they see on the catwalk” (McBride). Lines have been blurred about how one becomes fashionable. Style has now caused the question, “how can I make myself fit into the ‘cool’ clothes?” to hang above many teens’ heads. Young girls look at models to mimic what is fashionable. Sadly, these girls do not only see the newest clothing lines while watching the catwalk. Girls have started to look passed the clothes at the body wearing them. An idea forms in their head that they must be as thin as the models to look good in the fashionable clothing models wear. It is not only the onlookers that can be driven to anorexia; the models put themselves under the same pressure, if not more intense. Models feel as though they must be extremely thin to make it in the cut-throat fashion industry. Unfortunately, “nowhere is the celebration of unhealthy body image more pronounced than in the fashion industry” (McBride). It is ironic how models skip meals and excessively exercise in order to become an icon of beauty, which will ultimately cause their admirers to begin unhealthy practices as well. Both the models and admirers are driven by the media to unhealthy extremes to achieve high fashion.
Aside from the human aspect of anorexia, the methods that are being promoted to the public to reach their thinness goals are too drastic. Television and magazine articles promote diets and diet pills with ease through excessive advertisements (“Eating”). Companies know which channels women watch and which magazines they read, which helps them target these vulnerable women (“Media”). Most of this promotion from the media does not give the complete story about whatever the product or diet may be, but because of constant exposure women think these tactics are the solution. This becomes a problem because these methods of losing weight can be dangerous if not done properly and could cause individuals to become addicted to dieting. Heavy promotion occurs because the media and “the makers of weight-loss pills would like people to believe that their products will miraculously solve weight problems” (“Over”). The fact is that these methods are not instant, and most only trick the body out of being hungry. Leptin is the naturally occurring hormone which signals people’s hunger. This hormone can be manipulated in diet pills and other programs, which is unhealthy for deprived bodies. Exercise and healthy eating choices are crucial in attaining a healthy weight, not excessive dieting or fasting in order to reach a goal. This miscommunication between the media and the people is what causes eating disorders.

Opposed to anorexia being the responsibility of the media, “current research indicates that there are genetic contributions to eating disorders” (“Media”). It is common for girls to experience eating disorders if their mothers did. This is not directly linked to genetics, and could be attributed to the mother raising her daughter in a way that would cause her to develop a similar disorder. Looking at the issue on a chemical level, it is possible for the body to be “more vulnerable to developing anorexia” because of small genetic changes (“Anorexia”). Serotonin, a bodily chemical that is associated with depression, could play a role in anorexia. Levels of serotonin are heredity, but can only develop into an eating disorder of other forces push the vulnerable body to it. Yes, it is true that genetics can make people more likely to develop eating disorders, but heredity does not predetermine that fate.

The media’s promotion of success, fashion, and dieting causes many people to develop eating disorders. Media sources have skewed the meaning of success away from talent and toward body type. At the same time, the fashion industry contributes starving models for young girls to “look up to” for an example of beauty. On top of that, Commercials and magazines are flooded with dieting advertisements, which make everyone feel as though they need to join in and lose weight. All of these factors cause people to forget that everyone has a different weight that is healthy for their lifestyle. This flooding of incorrect perspectives of society push people to desire conformity rather than doing what is right for them as individuals. Although it is possible for genetics to cause vulnerability to anorexia, the disease could not occur without the pressure that is put on women by the media. This narrow mindedness that the media possesses causes society to lose track of what is truly successful, beautiful, and healthy.

The author's comments:
Walking through the halls of my high school every day I hear girls congratulating each other for skipping meals and counting calories. So often my peers complain about needing to lose ten or fifteen pounds when they can't afford to lose any. I think it is time for high school girls to realize the true definition of beauty.

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