Beauty Magazines and Anorexia

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ENGLISH FINAL PROJECT
TITLE: Can the beauty magazine be held responsible for anorexia?

NAME: KATIA TAKKOY

Can the beauty magazine industry be held responsible for anorexia?

“Security”, “mental strength”, “self confidence”, “identity”, “care”, all these words having a common source, starvation. (Ogden, 2010, p.220). And although it may make no sense to most of us it surely holds a lot of meaning to an anorexic patient. But who is responsible for the link between starvation and all those positive words? Who should we blame for this 360 degree reversal of the image of starvation, from hunger due to poverty in some African countries to the image of someone successful with high self confidence that deserves love affiliation and care? A great amount of research has been dedicated in revealing whether or not the beauty magazine industry is to be held responsible for anorexia and the disordered believes that come with it, a subject that has been greatly debatable for years. A large amount of research indicates that beauty magazines have a clear cut effect on body image, while other sources claim that the root of the problem lays somewhere else, and that beauty magazines should not be blamed for the outburst of anorexia. To begin with, Stice, Spangler and Agras(2001), carried out an experiment in which they randomly assigned adolescent girls to receive a free 15-month subscription to a teenage magazine. Through this study they found no direct effect of increased magazine reading on any of the body dissatisfaction or dieting variable they were testing, instead they found a moderating effect on the variable of social support, whereby girls who initially had low levels of social support showed increased body dissatisfaction, dieting and bulimic symptoms, with increased exposure to beauty magazines. Therefore Stice, et al., argued that it is not exposure to magazine reading as such which leads teenage girls to disordered eating patterns such as anorexia but other secondary factors, such as the absence of social support, which indirectly lead those girls to search for comfort and fulfillment in other sources in an attempt to become socially accepted. Similarly, Tiggemann (2006), carried out a study to investigate whether or not exposure to beauty magazines over a period of one year had an effect on the degree of body dissatisfaction. On this study 214 female high school students took part who were asked to complete a questionnaire at the beginning of the experiment, and then another questionnaire one year later, at the end of the experiment. The questionnaire assessed variables such as “internalization of appearance ideals”, “body dissatisfaction” and “drive for thinness” (p. 525, Tiggemann, 2006). The results of the study suggest that when accounting for body image ideals and body dissatisfaction at ‘Time 1’ of the experiment, any extra exposure to beauty magazines, according to the current experiment does not enhance body dissatisfaction, nor lead to disordered eating patterns. In addition results of the current study also showed that those girls with initially high scores on appearance concerns, increased in body dissatisfaction over time in a way that low scorers did not. Therefore Tiggemann suggests that we cannot say that is the beauty magazines to blame for the outburst of anorexia, since the direction of causality is not clear. In line with this, Rubin(1994), argues that teenage girls are largely in control about what they read and for how long they read them, therefore what we should aim to discover is why those girls choose in the first place to read beauty magazines. What’s more twin studies carried out to determine whether or not there is any genetic basis to the disorder of anorexia, provide support for a genetic influence on anorexia. (Treasure and Holland, 1995). These genes do not directly code for the disorder of anorexia but as suggested they code for traits which make individuals vulnerable to the disorder...
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