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Healthy Weight Center

Does Media Affect Weight?

03/11/2009

Question:

Do you think media affects people`s views of themselves?

Answer:

Body image, or the way in which you view your body weight or shape, is formed throughout your life and is reinforced through your experiences with peers, family, and the media. The current ideal body image that is promoted by the media is an ultra-thin physique. Although it is unreasonable for most persons to attain this body type, many attempt to achieve it through extreme weight loss, desperately engaging in strict dieting, fasting, excessive exercise, and other methods of weight control. Unfortunately, when the goal is a very low body weight, people begin to view normal, healthy weight as being too fat. The result is body image disturbance, a subjective unhappiness with your physical appearance. Feelings of shame, depression, and low self-esteem often accompany body image disturbance and in turn may lead to the development of eating disorders. America is a food-centered society, meaning that food plays a central role in many of our societal traditions and celebrations. Yet, our society promotes unrealistic ultra-slender ideals of beauty through the media (e.g., in magazines, newspapers, music videos, television, movies). Therefore, it is not surprising that two-thirds of adolescent girls and one-third of adolescent boys are dissatisfied with their body weight and shape. The solution to the serious problem of body image disturbance and eating disorders may begin with teaching young persons to value themselves, their health, and their inner traits rather than focusing on their ability to conform to society`s ideal of attractiveness.

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Response by:

Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD
Professor of Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati