About this sample
About this sample
Words: 1536 |
8 min read
Published: Apr 11, 2019
Words: 1536|Pages: 3|8 min read
The misconception that anorexia is a matter of choice is widespread, but recent research suggests a different story—one that may surprise you. Emerging studies point to the fashion industry and various media outlets as significant culprits. Are these findings credible? What drives these notions? This essay will delve into these questions, assess the validity of these claims, and leave you pondering the legitimacy of this hidden truth.
In a world where young individuals are increasingly tethered to their screens, it's no wonder that their perceptions of what's acceptable in society can become distorted. The pressure to attain perfection can have destructive consequences. Media, in its various forms—television, the internet, and magazines—permeates our lives extensively. Statistics indicate that over eighty percent of individuals watch television daily, averaging about three hours per day (Lyons, 2017, para 16). Many television shows and advertisements portray women with unrealistic, almost doll-like figures, objectifying them in the process (Lyons, 2017, para 16). The models featured in magazines and beauty ads are often so heavily photoshopped that their images become detached from reality. Shockingly, "The National Eating Disorders Association" has disclosed that twenty percent of TV advertisements convey the message that being exceedingly thin is more attractive than maintaining a regular weight. The average American teenager is exposed to at least five thousand such commercials annually (Lyons, 2017, para 16). It comes as no surprise, then, that there exists a correlation between destructive eating behaviors and diminished self-esteem. This generation is ensnared by a fabricated reality that fosters the misguided belief that young girls must become excessively thin to be deemed attractive.
What drives models and actresses to maintain such waif-like figures?
It is astonishing that the industry's entry requirement is a BMI of 16, a figure considered perilous by medical experts and one that leads to health problems and vitamin deficiencies. Damien Gayle points out that, according to the World Health Organization, guidelines stipulate that individuals with a BMI of 18.5 or less are considered underweight, 18 qualifies as malnourished, and 17 signifies severe malnourishment. This raises the question: Why is Hollywood and popular culture so fixated on the idea of the perfect body and appearance? For many aspiring individuals in these fields, eating disorders and starvation may seem like the only path to a successful career. Research even reveals that approximately sixty percent of models felt the need to become thinner, with fifty percent facing threats of termination if they did not shed pounds. The prevalence of anorexia and bulimia among models is so pervasive that many celebrities have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness and publicly share their perspectives.
It is difficult to ignore the fact that models and on-screen characters are becoming increasingly slender, while a substantial portion of American women is experiencing significant weight gain. Television is not the sole source of exposure to such ideals. Alarmingly, studies suggest that eighty-three percent of young women peruse "fashion magazines" for an average of four hours each week. Even more concerning is the prevalence of weight loss advertisements in women's magazines. Spettigue notes that women's magazines contain ten times the number of diet products compared to men's magazines. Another startling study mentioned by Spettigue, conducted by Kilbourne in 1994, revealed that the primary aspiration of young women aged eleven to seventeen was "to get thinner and keep it off." Kilbourne's research further underscored the significant emphasis placed on weight loss among young women, with a substantial number stating that they most desired to change "their weight" when asked what they wished to alter about their lives.
It is undeniable that the prevailing body size standard is on a downward trend. Paradoxically, a significant portion of American women is experiencing an increase in weight. While the media may disavow any endorsement of anorexia, experts in the field of eating disorders, such as Kelly Brownell, vehemently disagree (Jade, 2012, para 9). Kelly Brownell, a doctor, provides compelling insights that shed light on the irony surrounding celebrities. Brownell asserts that eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are more likely to develop due to the negative influence of the media. One intriguing observation she makes pertains to a recent phenomenon associated with celebrities, commonly referred to as the "Damaging Paradox." This paradox revolves around the media promoting the ideal of a thin and perfect body while simultaneously advertising high-fat and calorie-laden foods, enticing consumers to purchase these items (Jade, 2012, para 9). It's hardly surprising that actresses themselves do not consume these calorie-rich foods, as such indulgence is uncommon in the cutthroat world of Hollywood.
In addition to anorexia, another eating disorder gaining prominence, fueled by the media, is orthorexia. This disorder is characterized by an obsessive fixation on healthy eating and an irrational fear of becoming overweight. Orthorexia can lead individuals to develop self-loathing, confidence issues, malnourishment, and a sense of isolation. It is increasingly prevalent on "thinspiration sites," websites that actively encourage eating disorders and endorse extreme behaviors. These sites go so far as to advocate starvation techniques, advising individuals to suppress their appetite, chew on ice, and frequently brush their teeth to eliminate the taste of food (Woolf, 2015, para 2). They even suggest sharing photos online of specific body parts, while providing tips on concealing these behaviors from parents. It is disheartening that these websites promote purging and bingeing in secrecy, where individuals consume excessive amounts of food and then induce vomiting. Hospitalizations for anorexia and orthorexia have surged dramatically in just a few years. According to the NHS, "The number of teenagers being admitted to the hospital with eating disorders has nearly doubled in just three years," and social media bears a significant portion of the blame.
Efforts to establish limits have often proven ineffective. One proposed measure is to set a minimum BMI threshold for professional models. Another approach to promote curvier models involves providing them with meals and healthier working conditions. However, implementing these measures is easier said than done. In the United States, fashion models are generally considered independent contractors, not employees, which contributes to a lack of health and safety protections. Nevertheless, there are independent coping strategies that individuals can employ. Medical professionals and researchers offer guidance on combatting anorexia at home. Although many people with anorexia may struggle, they should never lose hope and should consider trying some of these strategies. According to "The Student Nutrition Action Committee at UCLA," the following methods can help counteract the negative influence of the media on body image:
Anorexia affects a surprisingly large number of people. While it is a common misconception that anorexia exclusively afflicts adolescent women, it is increasingly prevalent among older women and young males. Globally, millions of people grapple with this disorder. Shockingly, approximately thirty million Americans and eighty million individuals worldwide are diagnosed with anorexia alone. The mortality rate is even more distressing, with twenty percent of anorexia sufferers unlikely to survive, translating to one person succumbing every hour. Tragically, suicide is a leading cause of death in anorexia cases. Research has shown that one in every ten people with anorexia will die by suicide. It is evident that something must change. We must recognize that the media exerts a detrimental influence on our youth. Those suffering from this disease must fight back. We must acknowledge that if television shows, websites, and magazines do not alter their course, we need to.
Anorexia is a devastating illness, and those afflicted with it are navigating a harsh and judgmental world. Many lack proper guidance, leading to conditions like osteoporosis, malnourishment, and frailty because they believe these are the only means to gain acceptance and feel comfortable. Although treatment methods exist, full recovery is often elusive. Early detection and reducing excessive exposure to television, Instagram, and the internet may help reduce the incidence of anorexia. While genetic factors may play a role, there is a clear correlation between the fashion industry and the rising number of cases. Anorexia has become increasingly prevalent and severe in recent years, and it is evident that something beyond hereditary factors is contributing to the alarming increase in cases.
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