The Media.... Oh Boy

On Wednesday, in my Psychology of Women class, we talked about women and mental health, including eating disorders. They showed the following video...

...and basically the entire lecture is how the media is the biggest contributor to eating disorders.

Ugh. I strongly disagree. I never gave a shit about the media (pardon my language). I don't think I've ever compared my body to those in the media, or strived to look like someone in a magazine. Most of my body image problems in adolescents were influenced by my family's own body issues (my brothers were wrestlers, I was strongly influenced by my parents dieting and comments about bodies in general, etc.). That's not to say my family caused my eating disorder in any way, but my body image issues stemmed from my family.

It's not to say that the media doesn't influence girls at a young age, but I don't think it's a big predictor of an eating disorder. It may lay the groundwork for some insecurities. But never in treatment have I met someone who's eating disorder was caused by body image issues and the media. There are a lot of contributing factors to an eating disorder - psychological, environmental, genetics. They all play a role.

While body image was a big issue for me when I was in my early teens, I don't think that was the main cause of my disordered eating (however, I can't say it didn't contribute to the way my problems manifested). I think a lot of it had to do with low self esteem, not fitting in with my peers, low self-worth, and the changes I was going through during that time (physically, emotionally, and mentally).

But my eating disorder really spiraled after my family's trauma. Trauma is a huge contributing factor for many people's eating disorders (not all, but that's been a huge theme in treatment that I've seen). I wish my professor would have touched more on not necessarily every single contributing factor to eating disorders (because they're infinite - everyone's eating disorder starts differently), but on the fact that they're complex, and so many factors come together to start an eating disorder and maintain one.

I think talking about the media and eating disorders oversimplifies an eating disorder, and makes it seem like it's an easy fix. Just change the way the media portrays women, or boost your daughter's body image, and we can eliminate eating disorders? Nope. Again, that's not to say the media isn't a problem, and that it can't lay the groundwork for body image problems in young girls. But there's a huge difference between having bad body image (who doesn't?) and developing an eating disorder.

1 comment:

  1. Jessica/anewlife123November 20, 2015 at 6:08 PM

    I completely agree. Blaming the media for eating disorders is way oversimplified. Even my own eating disorder has multiple causes. It's not just one thing. Ugh, it irritates me how there is so much misunderstanding when it comes to EDs.