Although there is no single cause of eating disorders, research has shown time and time again that there is a strong connection between eating disorders and the media. As technology improves and access to media sources such as the internet and television increases, more and more children are exposed to large amounts of media every day. Studies show that most 8-18 year olds engage in some form of media for about 7.5 hours on a typical day, including while they are at school. Not all media is necessarily bad, but it can be problematic when it is sending unwanted messages to our youth.
The media can contribute to eating disorders in many ways. It often creates a “thin ideal” among women that subconsciously tells them that they must have a perfectly thin body in order to amount to anyone special. It is rare to see models in a fashion magazine that are not thin and without blemish. The media also targets men by creating an unrealistic expectation for masculinity. These expectations cannot be met by the majority people and they often lead to poor self-esteem, followed by the development of eating disorders.
The first step in breaking the connection between eating disorders and the media in our communities is to recognize that there is a problem. Don’t allow the media to dictate how you feel about yourself and find worthwhile activities that will help you recognize your true self worth.