Exposure to ideal body images portrayed by media may cause eating disorders - Sovereign Health Group
Articles / Blog
11-29-17 Category: Eating Disorders

Magazines, television shows and social media platforms often glorify an ideal body image, which has impacted society negatively. The flamboyant pictures of skinny models with perfectly sculpted bodies affect the self-worth and confidence levels of many Americans, especially teenagers and young adults. These vulnerable individuals tend to view such images as benchmarks that define beauty, causing them to question the way they look and feel.

Megan Donovan (name changed) of Santa Clara recollects her miserable high school years, where she intentionally chose to limit herself to a handful of close buddies whom she trusted as they would never pick on her. Donovan, 24, was a victim of body dissatisfaction, who began to dislike her actual physical appearance as it was no way close to girls who dominated the cover pages of magazines and made it to television shows. The more she spent time watching television, she would end up feeling less attractive and confident.

“I always knew I was short and podgy, and not as beautiful as the other girls,” said Donovan, remembering her sophomore days, when nobody seemed to notice her, especially boys. The “false body image” advertisements showing ideal bodies made her increasingly conscious of even insignificant details such as the size of her forehead and the shape of her eyebrows. Frustrated with her body shape, she started skipping meals to lose weight. All Donovan wanted was to fit into those beautiful short dresses that the girls on television wore. She said that bullying and body shaming she experienced was awful.

Donovan is among thousands of young women who want to look like a model and fall prey to an eating disorder. The California State University at Northridge reports that advertisements account for approximately 30 percent of the total television air time. On an average, an American child would view around 20,000 television commercials on a yearly basis. In such a situation, it is obvious that looking at anything for extended periods is bound to leave a huge impact on unwary individuals.

Although the primary motive of advertising is to convince people to buy products, ad makers hardly portray ordinary-looking people. Moreover, most viewers are unaware of the fact that photographs of models in print ads are often “touched up” to eliminate any glaring flaws or give them a flawless and skinny appearance. Such instances are a major contributor of anxiety, which pushes women toward extreme dieting and eating disorders, besides emotional upheavals.

Combating menace of deceptive body image advertising

The media today exhibits bodies, which are unreal or not representative of the general population. But sadly, an overwhelming majority of people get carried away by the unending barrage of artificial skinny images, which can rake up feelings of failure, imperfection, anxiety and depression, affecting one’s physical as well as mental health. Additionally, the resulting helplessness can also push desperate individuals toward eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia.

Although notifying advertisers about their faulty ads and the resulting outcomes of body image issues is a good idea, it still remains a long-term strategy, which would require immense efforts and time. In the short-term, the best possible option is to reduce one’s exposure to such images, which could lead to undesirable effects. People displaying noticeable signs of anxiety or depression after being exposed to such images should seek professional counselling and treatment to deal with futile and negative thoughts.

Eating disorders are treatable

With the ever-growing impact of media on our daily lives, American society is witnessing more and more vulnerable individuals grappling with the unfortunate consequences of perpetual exposure to a flurry of “perfect body” images. Subsequently, this has led to a surge in negative perceptions about one’s body image, which, in turn, has contributed to the development of low self-esteem and a host of eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), 10 million men and 20 million women suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at any given point of time in their life. Therefore, the need of the hour is to promote professional interventions to counter the undesirable effects of the media on one’s body image.

If you or your loved one is struggling with any kind of eating disorder, contact Sovereign Health for evidence-based treatment for the disorder. Experts at our world-class eating disorder treatment centers in California are trained to identify the underlying causes and prescribe customized treatment as well as group psychotherapy based on the patient’s requirements. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives for more information about our treatment for eating disorders in California.

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