Photoshopping Images and How It Impacts Eating Disorders

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About this sample


Words: 1621 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019

Words: 1621|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019

According to “Number of Adults with Eating Disorders in The U.S in 2008-2012, by Age Group (in 1,000) on Statista, there were eleven thousand people between the age of eighteen to twenty-five years old who were diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. There were four thousand more people in the same age range that were diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. What was interesting was that there were twenty-six thousand people in the United States who were diagnosed with one or more eating disorders. What is the cause behind these disorders? Some have blamed magazines and Photoshop, as is seen in the 2012 Daily Telegraph headline, “My anorexia was fuelled by celebrity magazines: Victim Demands ban on airbrushed photographs.” Is Photoshopping images truly causing all these statistics about eating disorders? Photoshop is not to blame because of other factors, such as genetic, temperament, trauma, and etc.

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There are numerous articles on eating disorders that point out that Photoshop is to blame for the rise in eating disorders. According to Huffington Post Magazine in the article titled “Is Photoshop Destroying America’s Body Image?” author Vivian Diller, PH.D., noted that Kate Winslet and Brad Pitt announced that Photoshop is destroying America’s Body image. Diller also writes, “While most people dream of magically removing their pounds and wrinkles...more and more are seeing Photoshop as dangerous terrain.” Why? Because many women claim that the media, such as commercials, weight loss ads, magazines, reality TV shows, or even billboards, is what brings them to the conclusion that they are no longer satisfied with their body or have a very low self-esteem. Women feel as if they have to fulfill those standards because it’s the “new” beautiful. (Diller) Just because women “claim” the media and Photoshop are giving them a “low self-esteem,” does it mean it’s true? Carrie Arnold, eating disorder specialist, did research of her own and found to the conclusion that distorted images of celebrities are not the main cause of eating disorders.

The article “Altered Fashion Magazine Photographs Contribute to Unrealistic Body Images” had questioned Carrie Arnold about what she felt about Photoshop. Her response was “Show me the evidence. What’s Photoshop got to do with it? The studies being done by AMA don’t connect Photoshop to diagnosable eating disorders, as spelled out by the DSM-IV. 1.,” said Arnold. The DSM-IV stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is used to categorize psychiatric diagnoses such as anorexia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and etc. (“Diagnostic And Statistical…”). Arnold compared the Photoshop/eating disorders claim to the false idea that ads for disinfectant somehow promote OCD. “Altered Fashion Magazine Photographs Contribute to Unrealistic Body Images” states that condemning Photoshop will have little impact on America’s view on beauty. Beauty has grown over the past years and continues to change. Getting rid of Photoshop will do very little to change how women see their bodies.

Although, a few things have come up to get rid of Photoshop on billboards, magazines, and photographs. What has been argued is the idea to come up with something that will stop the blame for Photoshop. The idea researchers have come up with is to use warning labels. Warning labels have been shown to lower the attractiveness of a product because in most cases warning labels are used to avoid what is on the warning labels. (Counteracting Media's Thin-Body…) An example of this might be a bottle of Tylenol that warns customer that the pills contain Acetaminophen and can cause liver damage if too much pills are taken. The reactions of people no longer wanting something after reading a warning label is called the reactance theory. The reactance theory is when a person feels the need to restore their freedom because they feel that after reading the warning label they are restricted. With this theory it may cause people to just ignore the warning label therefore it would be pointless to have a warning label. People would feel restricted and rebel against the label. In the case of warning labels on photos, customers would try to look like the models even more than before the pictures without warning labels. This problem is more likely in adolescents because they are in the developmental stage of their life. So, warning labels may not work at all but make the problem even worse. (Counteracting Media's Thin-Body…)

Another idea has been brought up along with the idea of warning labels. Information labels might work more for the adolescent group than the warning labels will. An example of this would be what nutrition labels are like. Nutrition labels are easy to read, right where you can see them, and straight to the point. That would mean an informative label on a picture would have information of the model and where the body has been Photoshopped. According to Bushman in the article “Counteracting Media’s Thin-Body…” an informative label would be more effective than a warning label because it would not cause the reactance theory as explained before. (Counteracting Media's Thin-Body…)

Even though people are coming up with ideas to stop the blame for Photoshop there is no reason to because Photoshop is not one of the main causes to an eating disorders. A diagnosable eating disorder as said before is not something that comes up all of a sudden and then goes away within less than two weeks. (“What Causes An…”) A diagnosable eating disorder is someone who meets the criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). Although a person can still have body issues without meeting the criteria according to the DSM-IV. (“Eating Disorders Diagnoses…”) There are many ways why a female feels insecure about their bodies. One major way eating disorders is usually caused is because of genetics. Genetics can be huge factor to increasing the risk of an eating disorder. Research was found that people had a 90 and 85 percent chance of developing an eating disorder if the mutations were found in the two different genes ESRRA and HDAC4. (“Researchers Find Genes…”) If a former family member has had an eating disorder, it is more likely that the person with the same genetics will develop an eating disorder. This means that eating disorders are heritable. (“What Causes An Eating Disorder?”)

Genetics can also follow into temperament. If people have the same genes that contribute to eating disorders than it can also be connected with a few particular personality traits, such as obsessive thinking, emotional instability and hypersensitivity, impulsivity, perfectionism, and rigidity and excessive persistence. These are common characteristics that are seen in individuals with eating disorders. One of the characteristics is perfectionism. Perfectionism is a high leading cause to developing the risk of an eating disorder. The term perfectionism isn’t just trying to think you are perfect, it’s an extreme need to go beyond an achievement and will do anything to reach that achievement. Perfectionism is hard and overwhelming for a person, especially for people with eating disorders. Research shows in the article “Perceptions of Parental Communication Orientation, Perfectionism, and Disordered Eating Behaviors of Sons and Daughters” that the trait perfectionism is usually passed on from parent to child, in which it creates the child to become very dependent on the parents approval. This in term causes for the child to try and take control and be dependent on themselves, which is why they seek control in an eating disorder. (Miller-Day, Michelle, and Jennifer D. Marks.)

Trauma is also another big factor to eating disorders. People who have suffered from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse is high cause. (“What Causes An…”) Victims who also suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) usually have an eating disorder as well. Bulimia is the most common to be connected to trauma because it allows the victim to control something in their life and learn to rebuild a cycle of behaviors that they believe is normal. The binge/purge cycle is seen to reduce the thoughts and emotions the victims are aware of. (“Trauma and Eating Disorders”) Many trauma victims often struggle with body dissatisfaction, lack of control in themselves, shame, and guilt. Eating disorders are there way of trying to control part of their life or emotions again. Inflicting self-harm is also common with trauma victims. The Center for Eating Disorders says in their article, “What Causes An Eating Disorder?” that more that fifty percent of people who suffer from eating disorders also struggle with trauma. Trauma is also connected to victims who end up having problems coping. People with eating disorders often find negative ways to cope such as restricting themselves, finding ways to feel direct pain that triggers their emotional pain, and exercising excessively. This then can cause low - self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and stress. (“What Causes An...”)

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Now, is Photoshop really something to blame or is it a reason people are finding to blame, so they don't blame actual people? Photoshop may seem like it’s a good idea to blame because it’s everywhere we go. It’s something people may even envy because they are not able to look like that in there own photos. Even if we try getting rid of Photoshop it’s not likely to happen because there are researchers and editors trying to get around it. The three big reasons to cause eating disorders are genetics, temperament, and trauma. Many people can’t do much about these factors because it’s uncontrollable. The only thing to help with eating disorders is therapy and love. It’s easier to say to get rid of Photoshop cause it's something physical we can do to get rid of forever, but we can't rid ourselves of our genetics.

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Photoshopping images and how it impacts eating disorders. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Photoshopping images and how it impacts eating disorders.” GradesFixer, 03 Jan. 2019,
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Photoshopping images and how it impacts eating disorders [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jan 03 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from:
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