Many studies, have said that there is “no differences in the incidence of EDs according to the overall number of hours the girls watched television during a typical week or when we separately analyzed the use of television during workdays or weekends.” This does not however rule out that media contributes to eating disorders. Turn your tv on, open a magazine, or turn on the radio. Almost every ad features thin models, or uses sex appeal in some manner to sell the product. It doesn’t take hours and hours of watching before one is exposed to material that gives the message that “thin is good.” It seems from the many articles I read on the subject that popular magazines, especially those geared at teen girls, are the most influential on the development of eating disorders. In all forms of media it seems that the thinnest people are the most successful, attractive, healthy, happy, fit, and popular. This leads young people in our society to believe that being slim will help them find the perfect job, the perfect mate, become popular, and get along with their family.

It should not be denied that media has helped to increase public knowledge of the problem and this has led to some getting help. The media can be rather hypocritical though. There is a story on a news program about the seriousness of eating disorders, yet it is followed by commercials and other stories featuring underweight, pretty, and sexy, and successful people. Mixed messages are sent out each and everyday. No wonder the youth of the world is so confused. has a Media watchdog program. “Watchdogs keep their eyes and ears open on TV, radio, and in magazines for positive or negative ads, and send notices of ads worthy of praise or protest to the National Eating Disorders Association office,” according to the official website. These watchdogs look for both positive and negative ads. What is a positive ad? Ones that display a variety of natural body shapes and sizes, attribute similar positive characteristics to both big and small body types, incorporate images of people eating balanced meals, including deserts, for a healthy lifestyle, and ads that include women in situations which imply equal social power and an understanding that women are more than objects of beauty. The goal is to make these types of ads the norm and offensive ads such as those with computer enhanced models, larger people being portrayed negatively, and those that glamorize people who are think, or ads that present people relying on food as a way to respond to stress, frustration, or loneliness.

It is true, media (i.e. Television, movies, magazines, radio, books, etc.) do not cause eating disorders. There is no single cause for disordered eating. ED’s like all psychological issues are a combination of genetics, home environment, outside influences such as peer pressure and media, other psychological issues such as psychosis and delusions, and life events. My goal is that we, as humans, work toward making all body types acceptable. This will help greatly in the fight against eating disorders. The current trend of “thin is the only way to be beautiful” is a dangerous one.

Sources cited: 1. Parental Factors, Mass Media Influences, and the Onset of Eating Disorders in a Prospective Population-Based Cohort , By: Martínez-González, Miguel Angel, Gual, Pilar, Lahortiga, Francisca, Alonso, Yolanda, de Irala-Estévez, Jokin, Cervera, Salvador, Pediatrics, 00314005, Feb2003, Vol. 111, Issue 2
2. Why do eating disorders occur? , By: Abraham, Suzanne, Llewellyn-Jones, Derek, Eating Disorders (Oxford), 2001
3. Television link to eating disorders June 11, 2004
4. Eating disorders and body image in the media Author: Heather Mudgett Published on: September 4, 1998
5. Media Watchdog program

This node originally written By Jennelle Bluebird for a newsletter called "The Self-Injureres Sanctum" /msg me for Newsletter details.

Heisenberg says re Eating disorders and the media: making all body types acceptable would be dangerous for public health reasons, as obese people are obviously more likely to be a burden for any public health budget. The same goes for the anorexic. Thin is not the only way to be beautiful, but being fat is a one way street to insulin resistance, Ischaemic Heart disease, Colonic Cancer and Cardiac Failure. Beauty has nothing to do with it.

My response: All valid points which I should have included. Thank you.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.