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Eating disorders and the media

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Please read the article below, and explain if you agree with these findings:

We Have to Have Those Thin, Slim Bodies Sociocultural theorists are quick to say that women in Western, industrialized societies suffer from high rates of eating disorders because they are constantly exposed to media images of ultra-thin models and actresses. But do we really know that such images are to blame?

Perhaps these media images don't set a trend but merely reflect a national obsession with physical beauty. Perhaps eating disorders would be just as common with or without slim-figured movie stars and svelte magazine models.

Remarkably, a group of researchers led by Dr. Anne Becker of Harvard Medical School was able to find a place where they could study this question (Becker et al., 2002). Prior to 1995, eating disorders were virtually non-existent on the island of Fiji, located in the South Pacific.

Eating disorders were not only rare, but Fijians considered a hearty appetite and a robust figure to be signs of emotional well-being and physical health. In 1995, the island of Fiji began to receive Western television programs such as "Beverly Hills 90210" "Seinfeld" and "ER."

Within three years, the number of teenage girls receiving high scores on a measure of eating disordered behaviors went from 12.7% to 29.2%. In 1995, not a single teenage girl included in the study had ever self-induced vomiting in an effort to control her weight; by 1998, 11.3% of the girls in the study reported having done so. In a culture where dieting had traditionally been frowned upon and discouraged, 69% of the girls surveyed in 1998 reported having dieted, and 74% said they sometimes felt that they were overweight.

Becker and her colleagues point out that the arrival of television is only one of many recent modernizations in Fijian culture. The gradual conversion from subsistence agriculture to a cash economy may also play a role in changing how girls feel about their bodies. Yet when interviewed, the Fijian girls included in Becker's study made direct reference to the
connection between what they saw on television and how they thought about themselves:
When I look at the characters on TV, the way they act on TV and I just look at the body, the figure of that body, so I say, "look at them, they are thin and they all have this figure," so I myself want to become like that, to become thin. ...it's good to watch [TV] because ... it's encouraged me that what I'm doing is right; when I see the sexy ladies on the television, well, I want to be like them, too. ...the actresses and all those girls ... I just like, I just admire them and I want to be like them. I want their body, I want their size. I want to be [in] the same position as they are ... Because Fijians are, most of us Fijians are, many of us, most, I can say most, we are brought up on these heavy foods, and our bodies are, we are getting fat. And now, we are feeling, we feel that it is bad to have this huge body. We have
to have those thin, slim bodies. (Becker et al., 2002, p. 513)

Becker's findings raise questions about why some girls who watch American television go on crash diets and others don't. All the same, her study shows that Western television programming can have a powerful, noxious effect on the lives and bodies of those who watch.

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1. Please read the article below, and explain if you agree with these findings:

To evaluate a study, a person looks to the type of designs and if there are any methodological flaws that might have caused the results other than what the researcher reports.

However, from what is given, Becker seems to have found evidence of the relationship between the media portrayal of girls and women and eating disorders. There is direct evidence from the girls' verbal reports of how it changed how they viewed themselves and how they wanted to be just like the girls and actresses on television.

This is not a new idea, however, and it makes sense because youth are susceptible to ...

Solution Summary

This solution evaluates the findings of an article about eating disorders and the media.

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Developing a Media Campaign to Change Negative Media on Anorexia

Looking at information regarding eating disturbances (anorexia, bulimia, obesity, overeating, body dysmorphia, body image distortions), develop a media campaign proposal designed to change the current negative media and advertising initiatives.

Develop a plan to convince a media corporation to change its advertising initiatives using relevant theoretical models that explain the causes of eating disturbances as a foundation for a proposed media change.

Required Sections:
- Eating Disturbances: Provide an overview of the major characteristics of each eating disturbance (anorexia, bulimia, obesity, overeating, and body dysmorphia).
- Theoretical Models: Describe in detail the two major theoretical models that explain the causes of eating disturbances.
- Analysis of Current Media Initiatives: Provide a detailed analysis of the current media initiatives that exist in our society that could influence the occurrence of eating disturbances. Describe specific television, movie, magazine, music, Internet, and any other media examples that provide evidence of negative images or information that may contribute to eating disturbances. Choose three different media outlets for this section and discuss them separately (television, movies, Internet, magazines, and so on).
- Change Campaign: Based upon knowledge of eating disturbances, the theoretical models that underlie their occurrence, and the media analysis, develop a detailed proposal that describes how your three chosen media outlets can change their current marketing initiatives. In your description, be sure to detail why these outlets should change, how they should change, and what new initiatives might look like. Provide specific examples of what kinds of changes need to be made to current media initiatives.

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