Pressures of Being Thin

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Why do young girls feel they need to be thin? The pre-teen and teenage years are already difficult enough to go through, and many girls go through these years constantly trying to make others like them. While these young girls read fashion magazines and watch television, they are exposed to what the articles, pictures and the media think how they should look. Even though mass media does not take full responsibility, advertising influences young girls to develop eating disorders because they feel pressure to stay thin and ads use thin women to promote beauty products and diet supplements. Here are some basic facts about eating disorders. According to National Eating Disorders Organization (2005) eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, include extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors that surround weight and food issues. These disorders are dangerous enough to cause serious emotional and physical health problem. Additionally, eating disorders can lead to life-threatening consequences. Eating disorders are difficult conditions which come from a combination of factors. Eating disorders are considered a psychological factor. In addition, they are also considered to be interpersonal, social, and biological factors. Scientists and researchers are still learning about the causes of these conditions which are emotionally and physically damaging conditions; however, most people are aware of the main issues that lead to the development of eating disorders (National Eating Disorders Organization, 2005). Young girls need to realize how dangerous eating disorders can be. According to Gustafson, Popovich, & Thomsen (2001), anorexia is considered as a bio-psychological disorder, which results in distortions of one’s self-image and self-perception. This leads to young girls and women to develop a dangerous fear of food and weight gain. As many as forty percent to sixty percent of all high-school girls, including pre-adolescent and elementary-age girls are on a diet. In addition, recent research indicates eating disorders may affect up to twenty-two percent of all college women. Overall, eating disorders are considered as the third most common chronic illness among women. There is conflict as to what influences young girls to develop eating disorders. Some believe the eating disorders are caused by a psychological disorder in young girls and teens. Others side with the theory that the disorders are promoted by the mass media. Many advertisements that influence young girls involve weight-loss products, diet-foods, fitness and cosmetic surgery. Young women are told if they increase their consumption of diet products, they will end up with the right body (Hesse-Biber, Leavy, Quinn, & Zoino, 2006). Mass media has been identified as one of the most influential factors that contribute to eating disorders. Advertisers use a variety of female stereotypes. These stereotypes are thought to be harmful to young girls both psychologically and physiologically (Gustafson et al., 2001). The portrayal of ultra-slim women as more fashionable and more successful can contribute to eating disorders. The beauty industry works to promote unrealistic standards. This industry advertises cosmetic products and fashion that are airbrushed, which leads to a creation of false perfection. When young girls view these types of advertisements, for some it can lead to body dissatisfaction (Hellmich, 2006). This can later on lead toward anorexia, bulimia and other possible dangerous weight-control behaviors. According to Morrell (2007), national brands have developed campaigns that include women who have suffered from eating disorders. For instance, in 2007, Dove, a Unilever-owned beauty brand, started a campaign that included women who have suffered from eating disorders. The reason for this was to target young teenage girls on a psychological level. Dove’s effort to help those with low self-esteem was to...
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