Rhetorical Analysis

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Every day, thousands of teenage and college-aged girls flip through the pages of tabloids and fashion magazines, admiring the glossy images of models and celebrities. While this habit is seemingly casual and innocent, for many it becomes an obsession that is interlinked with a struggle to attain an ideal yet unrealistic body image. In their articles, Meredith Baker and Walter Vandereycken discuss the media’s influence on young women, agreeing that media exposure has a strong negative impact on young women’s self-esteem.

In her article “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder; Body Image; Skinny on a Weighty Issue”, Meredith Baker points out that almost ten million Americans, mostly teenage and college-aged girls, are currently dealing with anorexia or bulimia. She blames the fashion and entertainment industries for contributing to the problem by showcasing celebrities and models that are unusually skinny. Baker then goes on to share her own experience with an eating disorder and how she overcame it. She believes the United States should follow France’s example and ban stick-thin models from all advertisements. She cites the fact that cultures that value full-figured women have fewer eating disorders and hopes that media outlets in the United States will also begin to provide more realistic role models in advertising. In Walter Vandereyckens article, “Media Influences and Body Dissatisfaction in Young Women”, he states that, “the influence of society and culture is putting young female adolescents at risk for developing an eating disorder”(Vandereycken 5). He discusses the cause-effect relationship between the idolization of celebrities with slim figures and low self-esteem and poor body images in teens. He emphasizes that with such unhealthy behavior, it is inevitable that adolescents would take necessary steps to achieve slim figures. Vandereycken argues that the mass media affects young adults differently based on sociocultural backgrounds and predisposed vulnerability. One possible solution for this problem is for schools and parents to help teens better understand the media and be able to view images from a more critical standpoint. Despite some minor differences in their perspectives, both authors successfully address some of the issues that contribute to the problem of eating disorders among young women. Although Walter Vandereycken establishes a better appeal to ethos in his article, overall Meredith Baker’s use of logos and pathos makes her article more rhetorically effective.

Of the two authors, Meredith Baker more effectively utilizes logos throughout her article by explaining her claims logically and using facts and statistics to support her arguments. Although she stacks the evidence by ignoring the other side of the argument, she still succeeds at persuading her audience by positioning her evidence strategically so that each argument she makes is reasonably supported. At the beginning of the article, Baker claims, “many girls my age (I am 17) suffer from a weight problem at the opposite end of the scale”(Baker 3). She refers to the fact that in an era where childhood obesity is a worldwide concern, teens facing eating disorders are often lost in the shuffle. Baker then informs, “some estimates report as many as 10 million Americans are affected by anorexia and/or bulimia, which can be just as damaging as childhood obesity”(Baker 3). This statistic helps to legitimize Baker’s previous claim about teens with eating disorders because it provides actual proof that there are millions of girls out there who deal with eating issues. In another instance, Baker uses logical evidence to support her ideas about setting new standards for an ideal body image in the United States. After suggesting that the U.S. follow in France’s footsteps by banning advertisements featuring “stick-thin models”, Baker cites the fact that “studies show that there are fewer eating disorders in cultures that value full-bodied women” (Baker...
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