Mondays on The Emily Program Foundation blog are designated “Media Monday.” That means every week we post about something we find in the media that relates to eating disorders, disordered eating, or body image. Why do we do this and why is it so important to post on a weekly basis?
The definition of media from Oxford Dictionary is: The main means of mass communication, regarded collectively. We communicate messages through the media, through the majority thought.
We live in a culture that is bombarded by the media at all points during the day. TV, radio, magazines, billboards, on screen, audio, print, pictures, and more. We see on average up to 5,000 images a day. In a year we are exposed to up to 1,825,000 images, and by the time we are twenty-years old, we have seen up to 36.5 million images.
What do most of the media images we see look like? The thin, and now “fit” ideal. Flawless skin, perfect hair, and a thin, toned body. If communication of the masses runs through the media images we see, then it seems like the message being communicated is that the thin/fit ideal is the way the majority of people look.
Looking at a fashion magazine for just thirteen minutes decreases body image significantly. Turner and Hamilton’s study in 1997 showed there is a strong correlation between exposure to fashion magazines and women’s greater preoccupation with being thin, dissatisfaction with their bodies, frustration about weight, and fear about deviating from the thin standard. Media images impact the way we see ourselves.
It is important to be aware of the media exposure and the messages we get from it. One of the main characteristics of having an eating disorder is having negative body image. Living in a culture that exacerbates the idea “you are not good enough unless your body meets the thin/fit ideal,” can impact the development of eating disorders and prevent recovery from an eating disorder.
If we are aware that the media does influence our body image, we can step back from it and objectively see that some of it is not real. This is the purpose of “Media Monday.”
Turner, S. L., Hamilton, H., Jacobs, M., Angood, L. M., & Dwyer, D. H. (1997). The influence of fashion magazines on the body image satisfaction of college women: An exploratory analysis. Adolescence, 32(127), 603.
Yankelovich Company Study, 2004