Essay about The Media?s Influence on Eating Disorders

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The Media's Influence on Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are mental illnesses that affect more than 7 million American women and usually develop in girls ages 12-25. The most common age for a girl to begin having an eating disorder is 17 years old (Discovery Health?). The National Eating Disorders Association states that eating disorders are conditions that arise from factors including physical, psychological, interpersonal, and social issues. Media images help define cultural definitions of beauty and attractiveness and are often acknowledged as one of the factors that contribute to the rise of eating disorders (NEDA). It is evident that the media influences teenage girls to develop eating disorders based on these reasons: the
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Undereating or overeating can activate brain chemicals that produce feelings of peace and euphoria which temporarily dispels anxiety and depression (?ANRED?). In some individuals with eating disorders certain chemicals in the brain that control hunger, appetite, and digestion have been found to be imbalance, but the exact meaning of these imbalances is still under investigation (?NEDA?).

People with eating disorders often use food to in an attempt to compensate for feelings and emotions that seem overwhelming (?NEDA?). A prevalent psychological factor for people with eating disorders is perfectionism. These people have unrealistic expectations of themselves. They lack a sense of identity and try to identify themselves by creating a socially approved and admired exterior. Other personality traits are having low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, or fear of becoming fat (?ANRED?). They may develop these feelings or fears because of their environment and social pressures.

When a girl?s immediate social environment, including her family and friends, emphasize the importance of thinness and weight she will feel more pressure to lose weight. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that girls who live in families that tend to be strict and place a strong emphasis on physical
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