Media in many forms can be influential to our adolescents as they are attempting to please everyone and “fit it” with their peers. Some individuals feel that their looks will allow them to have more friends and losing a few pounds will help. About fifty years ago the “perfect female” was illustrated as a size 9 to 12 with hips and about 30% body fat. Today this picture that media (internet, magazines, television, etc.) is almost appearing unhealthy compared to the beauty of years ago. Whatever the media fad is the teens and even younger pre-teens, will want to mimic that look and stature. A body type is not changeable though some individuals, both male and female, will take extra measures to be “skinny”. Some go to starving themselves, others just throw up everything they eat, though there are some who eat compulsively huge amounts of food to make them “feel” better and then throw up or not eat for a long time after the binging episode. These individuals have been label with a disorder that is called Binge Eating Disorder. Binge eating is the uncontrollable desire to take in an unnatural amount of food at one time. This disorder also includes feeling out of control and powerless.
Those who suffer from this disorder usually do so to deal or cope with stress and emotions in their life. Some characteristics that go along with binge eating include: eating what others think is a very large amount of food, eating until you feel sick, eating when not hungry, and being embarrassed by the amount of food they eat.
Triggering the Disorder
A pair of researchers, Levine and Muren, were interested in seeing the impact of media on females and the link to body image. With the use of mainstream media they were successful at showing that these outlets do have a strong connection to how females portray their body. The researchers mention the professionals, parents, and the adolescents who find the media to be a cause of dissatisfaction with their body ( Levine & Muren, 2009). The risks that females will go to in order to look similar to these models can be very dangerous, though is it happening to enough females to be concerned? During the teen years, both boys and girls, feel out of place and want to fit in and be “cool”. Being accepted by their peers is more important than most things at this influential age. Do they take into consideration that this image that they feel the need to live up to is fake, edited with Photoshop, and that the models themselves feel that they have millions of flaws because they are told they have to be perfect? No; Teens do not think of this. The media is referred to, in multiple studies, as a possible cause of this body image issue.
Helping Mold Strong Girls
As we now see that the media does impact the way we see ourselves, we could assume that skewing the media’s idea of beauty could possibly help the self-image of your youth. However other studies have linked this poor body image onset to additional things such as personality development and family relations. Several studies have showed that the mother - daughter relationship is very important to a girl’s body and self-image (Attie, I., & Brooks-Gunn, J. 1989). The majority of these studies suggest that the general psychological wellbeing and the family function has much impact on a female’s possibility of developing an eating disorder. With support from their mothers the female will have a “less likelihood” of developing these eating disorders. However this is not a definite answer for this issue. A mother letting the daughter know that they can talk to them and that they will support them is very important to the growth of self-esteem. Knowing that you have someone that loves you for who you are is very important to these young minds. They are confused and have a desire to fit in. Be there for them and remind them how special they are to you.
Attie, I., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1989). Development of eating problems in adolescent girls: A longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 25 (1), 70-78.
Levine, M., & Muren, S. (2009). "EVERYONE KNOWS THAT MASS MEDIA ARE/ARE NOT [pick one] A CAUSE OF EATING DISORDERS": A CRITICAL REVIEW OF EVIDENCE FOR A CAUSAL LINK BETWEEN MEDIA, NEGATIVE BODY IMAGE, AND DISORDERED EATING IN FEMALES. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 28.1, 9-42.
Mellin, L., Irwin, C., & Scully, S. (1992). Prevalence of disordered eating in girls: A survey of middle-class children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 92, 851-853.
Miller, T., M., Coffman, J., G., & Linke, R., A., (1980). Survey on body image, weight, and diet of college students. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 77, 561-566.