Hello! Happy third day of awareness week! Today I thought I would write about the media’s role in the portrayal of eating disorders and unhealthy dieting. I rediscovered a video I had seen a while back that depicted young girls asking about modifying their bodies and asking the viewers if they “think they are fat”. I obviously was extremely disturbed by this video–the mass media is so powerful that it has projected these disordered concepts of beauty to our children. 90% of women suffering from eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. With these messages being projected to a young and younger audience these age numbers are going to continue to drop–and they have. I was treated at the Children’s Hospital, so I was able to get an even better insight into the severity of the issue. I was surrounded by children who weren’t even in high school and were battling this devastating disorder. The media’s glorification of “thinness” and dieting has got to stop, and it starts with society standing up to it. Here is the video:
Despite the headache that the media is causing all of us activist, there is also a new movement going called “strong is the new beautiful”. Instead of emphasizing stick thin bodies, this new movement focuses on not only healthy figures, but a healthier over-all self image. This movement highlights a healthy relationship with your body inspiring confidence and a happy persona. Demi Lovato is one of the driving catalysts of this movement, and has done a number of campaigns to try and reinforce the benefits of healthy living and eating. These type of messages are what our youth is desperate for. 51% of nine and ten year old girls stated that they feel better about themselves when they are on a diet.
Dove came out with a wonderful commercial a little while back that demonstrated the volume of unhealthy messages the media exposes young children too. This video (which is also included in this post) reveals the brainwashing that occurs at such a young age. We as a society strive for this unattainable goal of perfection, and this is getting picked up on by our youth. The only way to prevent or reduce negative body perception is to start modeling healthy behavior for our youth.
There is a whole movement going on online known as “pro-anorexia” or pro-ana for short. Members in this community believe that anorexia is a lifestyle choice, and unite together in a common goal–to starve themselves. This type of activity disturbs me. Anorexia is not a choice, it is an uncontrollable, all consuming, mental disorder. This type of “pro-ana” movement encouraging unhealthy eating habits to young children worries me. Pro-anas like to motivate themselves with something call “thinsporations”, which are images of emaciated women serving the purpose of an inspiration to those attempting to drop weight. This type of behavior sickens me. I was researching the “pro-ana” community for some statistics to put into this post, but I didn’t make it even five minutes without being deeply saddened and triggered by these images. Proud2Bme and other sites help serve as a positive online community to counteract the negative behavior conducted on these pro-ana sites.
The bottom line is the only way to help address the negative messages portrayed by the media, we must encourage healthy body image, live out “strong is the new beautiful”, and put ourselves in postive environments.