Does the Media Influence Anorexia on Teenagers?


When the media is constantly bombarding children and teens alike with messages about the “ideal” or “perfect” beauty, and uses underweight movie stars, singers, etc- then it’s not hard to ask the question “Does the media influence Anorexia on teenagers?” and come back with a resounding “YES!” When children see these images on television, in magazines, in songs, movies, etc- then it’s no wonder that the rate of eating disorders among teenagers is rising rapidly, and now parents are feverishly searching for an answer.

Instead of blaming themselves, the media and others- it’s important to remember that some teenagers are more susceptible to eating disorders than others, and some are going to develop Anorexia or another eating disorder with or without outside influences such as media or peers.

But how does the media influence Anorexia on teenagers? And how do we stop the effects of this negative influence? The media has become firmly focused for years, on a person’s outer appearance or outer beauty. In the days of Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth, women in the media were portrayed as beautiful, and they weren’t “bone thin.” This trend has changed over the last several years, and now unless an actress or model is thin to the point of practically being able to see bones, she is criticized as being “fat.”

The latest example of this trend, is the recent come-back of Britney Spears- after she’d given birth to two children, she was ridiculed for wearing a skimpier outfit, due to being “fat.” The problem is, although she’d had two children, she was far from fat- yet the media criticized her for daring to show her “less than perfect” body on national television. With issues like this, it’s no wonder that children and teenagers are being bombarded with messages of what perfection is and how to “be” perfect.

When does the media influences anorexia on teenagers? If one notices television programming and magazines geared specifically for teenagers, they’ll notice that it’s extremely unusual- rare even- for an actor, actress, or other star to be “over-weight”- or even of a normal weight. From the pre-teen years to the middle-teen years, teenagers are bombarded with messages, whether direct or indirect, of the need to be “perfect” and what “perfect” is.

If Marilyn Monroe or Rita Hayworth were around today, they’d be labeled as “fat.” What a twist, and a shocking example of how our society has misplaced standards of beauty and “perfection!” Two well-known, absolutely gorgeous, healthy-weight, sex-symbols and icons of beauty- now would be considered “flawed.”

The media influences teens’ self-esteem and self-worth when it constantly bombards them with what society now considers ideal, and a distorted perception of what’s “perfect.” To stop the negative influence that the media has on children and teenagers, it’s a good idea to limit exposure of body-image damaging programs, magazines and it’s good to encourage a healthy body image.

Encouraging fitness and a healthy body and mind over looks and beauty is important, and keep aware of your teen’s body image and self-esteem issues. If your teenager seems to be overly concerned with his/her looks, weight, etc- having him/her assessed by a professional is of utmost importance. It could be a matter of life and death for your teen.

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