How body-focused media affects women

Photo by Peyton Brasfield.

With influences like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and Selena Gomez, about every American female at some point in their lives say “I would like to change my body type.”

According to National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.

For the longest time, there has been an “ideal” body type. And now with all new types of media whether that be social media or magazines it is now more enforced than ever.

Women in particular may struggle trying to get themselves to the “perfect body.” Magazine articles, television shows, and advertisements have also created a social context that may contribute to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in girls and women.

The media’s obsession with thinness may be a cause of women developing eating disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health they estimate that 1.1% to 4.2% of females have bulimia at some point in their lives.

Bulimia is a medical condition when someone is typically pertinent and binging on food. The bingeing of food happens when it is consumed in large quantities in a very short amount of time. During this bingeing process, people feel like they have no control over their meeting whatsoever.

The purging process is the release of that food because of vomiting that is self-induced. Other forms of purging may include the use of laxatives also exercising in order to burn what are perceived to be excess calories.This is very dangerous and can cause damage to one’s organs.

Another eating disorder that has a correlation to the media’s “perfect body image” is anorexia, which is starving oneself to lose weight.

Reported by the  National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders 69 percent of girls in 5th – 12th grades reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape and over half of teenage girls and a third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.

Sophomore Lauren Cunningham, speaks on the subject of social media influence.

On Instagram and other social media you see a bunch of transformation pictures of people who previously had struggled with bulimia and anorexia with them being happy about finally being healthy. Those are okay,” she says, “I think it can be positive in a way with anorexia and bulimia, they can be happy and talk about it and find the best solution to try to be healthy again.”

She also explains the downsides of social media.

“But then there is also a lot of pictures of thin women and girls more exposed and that can make girls feel kind of insecure about themselves. There is always a desire for a body shape that women always want,” she said. “For me sometimes it makes me feel bad about myself, like okay why am I not skinnier?”

But that does not mean that posting pictures of your body is bad. Everyone should be proud of their body, no matter what type they have.