final essay

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Ata, R. N., Ludden, A. B., & Lally, M. M. (2007). The effects of gender and family, friend, and media influences on eating behaviors and body image during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(8), 1024-1037. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/10.1007/s10964-006-9159-x This study examines the effects of both positive and negative social influence on teens of both genders in regards to their weight, through elaboration on previously established literature on the topic. Influences considered when looking at this pressure include the teens’ social support systems and the media. In their discussion about media’s impact, it is mentioned that, rather obviously, teens make extensive use and viewership of media – and that teens often see the body types represented as idealistic: the type they should strive for. For teen girls, beauty magazines were an especially potent source of influence when it came to body types, with almost 50% saying they were motivated to lose weight because of the bodies of women in magazines. Television was another powerful influence for both male and female teens, though again those who were influenced were likely in opposite directions. The hypotheses posed by the researchers pre-study included that males and females likely looked to change their weight in different ways (men wanted to gain muscle while females wanted to lose weight), as well as the causes for eating disorders being different between genders in addition to females having an overall less positive self-image. The methodology used to gather the information was a set of questionnaire surveys given to 177 students, grades 8-12. The various tests were meant to measure the teens’ current eating habits, their self-esteem, perce... ... middle of paper ... ...ory that media is simply one of several factors which much come together to necessitate the development of an eating disorder. The analysis concludes by saying that while the evidence on its own is not enough to single out the media’s influence as a cause on its own, it is sufficient enough to back the claim that media when combined with other factors can contribute to disordered eating. The article did not bring any brand new data into the canon, being a meta-analysis, but does serve as an important elaboration on the many myriad studies undertaken over the years. The researchers’ recommendations for attempting to fight the problem in the future include activism by those in the field as well as using the media itself to provide more healthy messages. As well, educating girls about the effects the media can have on them may help, as per the enlightenment effect.

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