Influence of American Mass Media Ideals on Body Image and Eating Disorders in the U.S

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Mass media have an enormous impact on society and how people act, especially in developed countries. How do mass media influence views of body image and the development of eating disorders? People living in countries influenced by Western culture show concern for their appearance or dietary habits daily. This paper will analyze the effect of mass media on the issues of body image and eating disorders in the United States. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-TR (DSM-IV-TR) (2000) eating disorders are characterized by a disturbance in eating behavior, which can be eating too much, eating too little, or simply just eating in an unhealthy way. The two major categories of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, but there is also a category for eating disorders that do not fully meet the diagnostic criteria for either anorexia or bulimia, which is termed Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified. The diagnostic criteria for Anorexia Nervosa (anorexia) includes a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight at or above 85% of the expected weight for age and height, having an intense fear of gaining weight, a distorted view of one’s own body shape and weight, and in postmenarcheal females, amenorrhea. The diagnostic criteria for Bulimia Nervosa (bulimia) includes recurring binge-eating behavior that is characterized by eating a larger amount than an average person would eat in a specific amount of time, such as 2 hours; and a lack of control over eating habits during this time. Other diagnostic criteria included in the DSM-IV-TR (2000) are engaging in compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain, through vomiting, exercising, or the use of laxatives. Anorexia is more common i... ... middle of paper ... ...son G., Jr., Katharine A. Phillips & Roberto Olivardia. 2000. The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession. New York: The Free Press. Smolak, Linda & Michael P. Levine. 1994. “Critical Issues in the Developmental Psychopathology of Eating Disorders.” Pp. 37-60 in L. Alexander & B. Lumsden (Eds.), Understanding Eating Disorders. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis. Smolak, Linda. & Michael P. Levine. 1996. “Adolescents’ Transitions and the Development of Eating Problems.” Pp. 207-234 in L. Smolak, M. P. Levine, & R. Striegel-Moore (Eds.) The Psychopathology of Eating Disorders: Implications for Research, Prevention, and Treatment. Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum. Thompson, Kevin J. & Leslie J. Heinberg. 1999. “The Media’s Influence of Body Image Disturbance and Eating Disorders: We’ve Reviled Them, Now Can We Rehabilitate Them?” Journal of Social Issues 55: 339-353.
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