Anorexia: The Role of Media Analysis


Anorexia: The Role of Media

One may have heard, saw or even read about them: stick-sized “fashion models on the runways,” gaunt supermodels on the magazine’s cover, thin actress on the soap opera or doing product selling on television. The message they convey is that women to lose weight and for those with low self-esteem and inability to control their environment and emotions can develop anorexia. Anorexia is a reaction to various internal and external divergences like anxiety, unhappiness, stress, and feeling like life is uncontrollable (Norton, 2000).

Media has been at the center of accusations on its stand on beauty and leading to eating disorders and low self-esteem in females. Medical researchers claim that there is decreasing weight over time of the beauty pageant contenders, actresses, and models seen as ideals of beauty. Ladies on television, together with actresses and news anchors, are extremely thin and are creating a rise in the number of young women suffering from eating disorders (Norton, 2000). According to the British Medical Association, the situation is in devastating with every family doctor treating at least two patients suffering from anorexia. Doctors now want the media to acknowledge realizable body shapes in order to minimize death numbers caused by eating disorders. The research indicates that the difference between the perceived body shapes and the actual is ever widening, i.e. as ladies get fatter, the actresses, models, and women who appear on media get thinner (Taylor, 2009).


Anorexia is a psychiatric disease with higher death-rates; however, those who escape death develop long-term health problems such as brittle bone disease. In the 1990s, according to the research, found that actresses and models had 10-15% body fat, unlike a healthy woman who had 22-26% (Spettigue & Henderson, 2004). It is surprising to see that male news anchors are of different sizes while female newscasters are all thinner. Therefore, the pressure exerted on these ladies in order to be thin and conform is gigantic. For instance, the 1950’s and 1990’s research revealed an increasing trend in thinness amongst Miss America contestants, fashion models, and Playboy centerfolds. Within the same period, a number of Canadian and American ladies significantly gained weight, hence bringing an ever-growing discrepancy between the media ideal and the actual body size of North American women. Hence, the impression created by the Television shows, Magazine article and advertisements implies that, for a woman to be attractive, successful and satisfied in life, they have to lose weight. This is the reason why there exist dissatisfaction and disordered eating among women (Spettigue & Henderson, 2004).

prevention of anorexia

The prevention of anorexia is for a woman is to be “overly simplistic”. As responsible media, we need to educate youths on eating disorders and encourage them to take media in a decisive manner. It is also necessary to come-up with the internal-based strategies rather than weight and appearance based strategies. A superior defense strategy can perhaps be healthy self-esteem. Treatment depends on time and severity of the condition together with one’s own needs, strength and weakness. Often, nutritional and psychotherapy combinations are effective in the treatment (Howard, 2006).

In summary, the media continue to emphasize “thin ideal” images for women and this thinness is ever increasing since the 1950’s; hence, proving to be unrealistic for the majority of women. The images and messages that centers on the importance of appearance and slimness for female have mainly contributed to body dissatisfaction, and negative eating patterns, weight preoccupation and the emotional well-being of women (Taylor, 2009). The studies have proved that the media is to blame for increment in cases of eating disorders. Prevention and remedy for this menace should comprise media advocacy, literacy, and activism. In addition, the society and professionals should propose for more confident and self-esteem boosting messages to be shared amongst women by the media. Future research should also seek ways to “counter-act” the consequences of media, in order to enhance self-esteem and body satisfaction among women.


Howard, I. (2006). DeBakey High School for Health Professions: Media’s Role in Eating Disorders. Retrieved from

Jade, D.  (2012).National Centre for Eating Disorders: The Media & Eating Disorders. Retrieved from

Norton, C. (31 May 2000). The Independent: Media Blamed for rising in Eating Disorders. Retrieved from

Spettigue, W. & Henderson, K. A. (2004). Eating Disorders and the Role of the Media. The Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review, 13(1), 16-19. Retrieved from

Taylor, L. H. (2009). Biting Anorexia: A Firsthand Account of an Internal War. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.



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