Celebrity Weight-Loss Shocker

According to figures released this year by B-eat (the UK Eating Disorder charity), images produced by the media have a large role to play in eating disorders. Well, no kidding, Sherlock.

But wait a sec. The images they’re talking about aren’t in the perfume ads. They’re not promoting fashion or celebrity or breakfast bars. They’re the pictures used to highlight the effects of eating disorders. The ones accompanying the articles that are supposedly designed to stop people going down the same route. Not only have some triggered those with existing eating disorders, they’ve given them new ideas on how to lose weight.

  • 86% felt real life images portrayed in the media were damaging
  • 60% have found media images to adversely impact on their self esteem
  • 70% have had their body image affected
  • 47%  say media images have prevented their recovery

It’s not enough to simply cover the issue of eating disorders. The way in which we do so is just as important.

Those with these kinds of struggles are often particularly vulnerable to suggestion – especially the power of visual images. They are drawn to pictures of sufferers – each one thinner than the last. They scan the articles for new tips on how to lose more weight. Numbers, whether height or weight or calories or time spent in the gym. And rather than acting as a warning, these same articles are too often a stimulus to try harder. To get thinner. To eat less. To exercise more.

And please don’t mishear me. This isn’t lay the blame solely at the media’s door. Of course the reader projects onto the page some of their own desires. But some of what passes as ‘responsible reporting’ is in fact poorly researched, sensationalist ‘entertainment’ that feeds the misery it claims to alleviate.

2 thoughts on “Celebrity Weight-Loss Shocker

  1. I can totally identify with the problems the media causes with body image. There are many mixed messages as on one page of a magazine it has about accepting your body and size and then the next is about diets, weight loss and surgery.I avoid magazines that focus on body image in this way as all the information in the media eventually causes people, including myself, to believe that skinny is the way we were made to be and if you aren’t tiny then you’d better do something about it. It’s a total lie and I’m learning what a healthy weight and balanced diet is as you certainly can’t rely on media info to teach you that. Sadly many people are exposed to info from the media more than any other info sources.

  2. Yes, it’s a battle not to internalise the ‘norms’ of our culture, especially when we can’t escape from the constant barrage of info. In my head I think these things don’t influence me, but evidence suggests otherwise.

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