Archive for January 28, 2013

Media Monday: You Are an Individual

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer

The media is something with which we are constantly confronted, whether realizing its company consciously or subconsciously. By design, this ever-looming presence automatically becomes a part of our lives the instant we are welcomed onto planet Earth.

So, from the first day, we are provoked by images that command a specific, one-dimensional physical appearance; inability to conform threatens non-acceptance and the belief that we are less than whole. The vulnerability of naivety is the ripest of blank canvases on which to impose a senseless devotion to these unrealistic bodily standards, for as youth, we do not necessarily recognize the power this influence has, as it leads us to develop opinions about how we should look, feel, and act.

For these reasons, I have come to believe that fashion magazines are nothing more than distorted depictions of the human form. I harbor a steady, boiling anger, when I flip through the pages, seeing models that appear alien, looking like overgrown 8-year olds, or adults that completely skipped the hormonal dawn of puberty. Their spindly extremeties and gaunt faces sharply contrast with their large heads, making it sadly obvious that the present state of their bodies is forced, unnatural, and most of all, unhealthy.

I am angry because I know that countless people have looked, and will look, at these pictures, and start comparing themselves to these alien creatures, forming sizable mental notes of all the ways in which their own bodies are unacceptable. No one is immune to this. In doing so, we choose to blanket ourselves in anguish, as we magically forget all of the wonderful, amazing qualities that make us unique and beautiful, all of our talents and inherent capabilities. All of this instantly becomes worthless, because we don’t look like that.

What kind of world what it be if we were all carbon-copies of one another? Pretty boring. And impossible. Everybody is different. Every body is different. Celebrating our differences gives life meaning, verve, and, most of all, identity. The greatest gift of all is that you are inimitably you. Matchless, outstanding, distinctive. You are an individual. The only way to honor this incredible gift is to allow yourself to be yourself. Nourish your physical, emotional, and mental bodies with a balance of food, love, and meaningful experiences and you will thrive in health.

Only you have the authority to choose this path of self-love, nurturing, and acceptance. You have the power to confront negative messages, and recognize that they do not serve your highest, truest purposes. By no means is this easy, but it is entirely possible.

Media Monday: A Look at Pregnancy

Submitted by Heidi Tash, TEP Dietetic Intern
Over the last year there have been several commercials and magazine articles praising the ability of celebrity women to lose weight fast post pregnancy. Jenny Craig sponsors Mariah Carey and Scary Spice, Weight Watchers signed deals with Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson and magazines like US Weekly have paid for bikini clad stars like Kourtney Kardashian to grace their cover. These ads and articles, aimed at all woman of child baring age, incorrectly project the message that the size of one’s body after giving birth defines one’s ability as a mother.  

 

It is amazing the ways in which the body can adapt and change, to create and care for a new life. True part of this process does involve fluctuation in body weight, but this is a beautiful and natural part of pregnancy that should be honored and accepted. It’s upsetting to think that our society has neglected that which should be respected and instead honors the message projected to young women that a certain body is required to be a good parent. It could be argued that at its core the message is intended to be a positive one, “be healthy for your baby”; but the way it’s delivered creates the underlying innuendo of “be thin and you will be a better mother and role model.” The women in these ads and articles are not depicted as healthy and nurturing but instead are frequently pictured in tight clothes or swim suits and displayed as sex symbols glorifying their extreme weight loss.

 

Ads and articles like these create unrealistic expectations for real mothers. Pressure to be thin can lead to distorted weight gain goals while pregnant, and unrealistic weight loss expectations post partum.  Having a baby is rewarding and exhausting all at the same time. New mothers should be focusing their energy on their mental and physical wellbeing, as well as that of their children and family, not consuming themselves with thoughts about dieting and body image.  Ideally this type of media is designed to elicit feelings of happiness, connectedness, and success. In reality they most likely lead to feelings of failure and insecurity as women struggle to live up to distorted societal expectations. It is time the media, marketers and spokeswomen rethink ads and articles like these and honestly reevaluate the message being conveyed.

Review: Trudy Beludy and Her Brilliant Tummy written by Elizabeth Maier Marietta


Submitted by TEPF Volunteer
Trudy always looked forward to Saturdays because they were filled with fun. She had planned the whole day doing different activities with friends and her favorite toys. She even took a pledge to have fun all day. She got to be involved in all her favorite activities, but this particular Saturday was different because it did not go as planned.
 
Trudy felt sad because she was not able to play with her friend, so she decided to fill her sadness with something else that she thought would make her feel better. She realized that bingeing on different kinds of food made her feel worse.
This book shows how a young girl used food as a method of coping  when she was sad, and later on realized she is able to find other methods of coping that will make her feel better about herself. This book illustrates several methods of coping with sadness, stress or, other negative feelings that one might experience. Ultimately, the main character used exercise and art to cope with her sadness.  This is a great message because it demonstrates how each person will encounter emotions in their life, and there are many ways to cope with these emotions.  It is up to individuals to find what works best, both for our minds and our bodies.

Media Monday: Media should be socially responsible

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer

 

I recently saw an anti-obesity advertisement. The storyline is about an overweight mother who brings her 6 years old ‘chubby’ daughter for grocery shopping. The mother fills her cart with foods such as chips, soda, fries and other junk foods, and this was followed exactly by her daughter who is also wheeling her own smaller cart.  At the end of the ad, the message stated that parents should set a better example to the kids. This ad created a lot of critique as well as praise because it is meant to be educational and but increases embarrassment and shame for those who are obese or overweight.

 

Media plays a huge role in creating our view of an “ideal body.”
I believe that this ad aims to reach the parents as their target audience. However, kids watching the ad may easily interpret the ad in a very simple and superficial perspective that individuals who are overweight do not care about setting a good example on healthy eating.  And again, they also can get a wrong idea that an overweight mom just does not know about eating healthily.
Generally speaking, I think this ad is suitable and educational for some parents who do not understand nutrition. I think that the message is achieved as this ad tries to insert the feeling of responsibility into parents on how they can help raise healthy children.  However, we need to deeply think about the possible consequences of this ad. Our society looks down upon individuals who are overweight which can have consequences on those individual’s mental health.  Eating disorders can start as individuals become insecure and have poor body image.  It is crucial that media starts to consider the appropriateness of their messages.  Media needs to be socially responsible.

Media Monday: A Critical Comparison

Submitted by Snow Xiaochun Wang, TEP Dietetic Intern

 

Body image refers to how an individual perceives his or her own body and appearance. It is a well-established fact that mass media provides attitudes of beauty and beliefs about weight, which has a significant influence on society’s aesthetics of body image. Mass media’s portrayal of body image is often unrealistic, resulting in individual dissatisfaction, and it is related to an increasing rate of eating disorders and weight-control behaviors, especially among women and adolescents. The ideal body image conveyed by mass media has a larger influence on younger adolescents, who are easily influenced and more vulnerable than adults, therefore resulting in anorexia and/or bulimia. For example, the clothing store Victoria Secret, displays all their products with sexy slim models targeting teens and adults. The ad tries to associate beauty and confidence feelings with the product. http://www.victoriassecret.com/
 Television is a major type of mass media, which has a powerful impact on society’s adopted attitudes and behaviors. The majority of “ideal” body images are conveyed during adult drama time allocations. For example, in Desperate Housewives, each female character was assessed as a beautiful, sexy and slim figure (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxvMgCpgiYM).  The strong emphasis of thinness in this show will have a impact on the women who watched it. For male characters that are husbands of the women in this episode, most of them are muscular, fit and attractive. This series will affect male viewers by causing them to think that this type of body image will attract women; therefore they will increase their effort to build body shape and stay lean. Another TV series The Middle is a family-oriented adult comedy. The characters in the series are parents with three kids at different age groups, from pre-school to teen. The story is suitable for both teens and parents to watch. In this show, the body images of parents are an average-sized, typical middle-aged man and woman, and the children are neither too fat nor too skinny. In addition, they have lots of scenes to encourage exercise, e.g. marathon prize-giving event, bicycling and playing basketball. Compared with two series, The Middle depicts more realistic, encouraging, and appropriate body images. During adult drama, a high frequency of advertisements (90%) involved slim, sexy, and attractive body image. Age groups influenced include teens,youngadolescents and adults,especiallyfemales who are more susceptible to feel the pressure to be thin. The type of television program determines the type of commercials aired during the allocated time slot.
Mass media has a powerful influence on food consumption and the ideals of body image adopted by society.The likelihood that television audiences will model the behaviors exhibited by televised media streams is high, as a result, it is important to sustain and support beneficial information about healthy eating and exercise. All the viewers from different age groups should increase their awareness through accurate and effective judgments on the televised body images of unrealistic physical beauty. In addition, parents should also pay attention to the types of television programs are exposed to their children, especially teens, as well as become fully aware of all the eating behavior information presented through the television.