“How far would sociologists agree that the media causes eating disorders in women? In this essay I will discuss how far sociologists would agree that the media causes eating disorders in women. Eating disorders refer to a group of conditions characterized by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the damage of an individual’s physical and emotional health. Eating disorders include: bulimia, anorexia and obesity.
First Marxists would argue all young females in the west are exposed to the media and the stereotypical view of women is that they are “slim and beautiful”. This means that young females are influenced into trying to be the “perfect” image of a beautiful woman and in order to be able to become skinny start to diet which eventually leads to serious eating disorders. An example of this is a model that died due to the severity of her eating disorder, anorexia.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
Isabelle Caro, a 28 year old French model died due to suffering from a respiratory disease which was initially caused by anorexia. This suggests that the media causes eating disorders in women as Isabelle was a catwalk model and in order to be popular on the catwalk she stopped eating which shows that if the media didn’t portray women as being a size zero then they wouldn’t want to be so skinny. This also suggests that female are subjected to the hypodermic syringe theory and are injected with powerful images hence their behavior is affected.
This means that the media injects images of size zero models into the minds of young females and somewhat brainwashes them into trying to become a “skinny”, “beautiful” person. The media tends to portray female role models as being successful, skinny and beautiful which may influence females into believing success and beauty is due to a person being slim. This means that due to role models being slim females may believe that in order to be a fan of that celebrity/ famous person they will have to physically look like them which means being skinny.
An example of a female role model is Cheryl Cole who is very skinny but is viewed as the nation’s sweetheart. This implies that even though Cheryl Cole is thin she is somewhat idolized by females and due to the media showcasing her as being pretty, successful and a role model young girls are bring encouraged into becoming skinny, thus suffering from eating disorders. In addition to this peers are encouraged by the edia into becoming this “perfect” image of a female and could excrete this belief/opinion onto their friends resulting in females suffering from eating disorders. American modeling contests showcase contestants as being 15% below the average size of females. This could mean that by watching these types of TV shows peers are somewhat manipulated into trying to be these women and encourage other females into doing so. This shows the media is powerful and is to blame/causes eating disorders in women.
On the other hand Functionalists would argue that only 3%-4% of females suffer from eating disorders and this figure isn’t large so the females who are affected from eating disorders can’t all have been influenced by the media thus the media is not at fault and does not encourage females to suffer from serious eating disorders such as anorexia. This could imply that females are subjected to the Decoding theory as they choose to interpret the image of females in the media differently and they do not believe that if women portrayed by the media are slim, they need to imitate/copy that same image.
As well as this there are positive role models in the media who do not portray the image of females having to be “slim”. Examples of these women are Cheryl Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Rushanara Ali who have become successful due to their own handwork and merit and not due to their size. Also women who are a plus size are now seen as healthy and beautiful, like Oprah thus promote physical health and can impact female in a positive way as they are not always subjected to images of stick thin women.
Lastly functionalists may argue that eating disorders are caused due to the psychological effect of relations between mothers and daughters. This means that if a female didn’t have a healthy and loving relationship with her mother then it could trigger an eating disorder in her. An example of this is Adrianna from 90210 who didn’t have a healthy relationship with her mother and it could be said that this affected her psychologically which made her a victim of anorexia.
This shows that the media is not responsible for eating disorders and doesn’t cause it but the family which is the only form of primary socialization does have a crucial part in females developing eating disorders. To conclude, I believe that the media does play a role in the cause of eating disorders in women however other factors such as peers and the family have an impact on the issue too and can help cause it. Yet the media, a form of secondary socialization, didn’t portray women as being skinny females may not feel threatened by it and wouldn’t want to become the females portrayed by the media.