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Media and Eating Disorders

by nina on April 12, 2011

media and eating disorders

Today we have a special guest post about the media and eating disorders by Jeff Norman, a recent college grad living in New York City.

He’s had several first-hand experiences with body issue disorders and understands how it can be difficult to overcome them. But success is possible! Jeff is also a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog.

Let’s run through the top television programs nowadays currently aimed at young girls. “Gossip Girls,” “Pretty Little Liars,” the re-vamp of “90210.” And recently, such shows as “The Hills” ended their series with tens of millions of fans, most of them likely to have been young women looking to emulate the stars of the program.

There’s nothing one with wanting to go for the glamor and glory of media stardom; the fashion and glitz that go along with it are irresistible and intoxicating. There is an undeniable issue, however, when impressionable viewers sigh at a visible link between celebrity and slimness. The culture does so much to embrace the thin and the tiny while seeming to ostracize those women who don’t fit into such unreasonable, size-zero standards.

How about we attempt to dissect the slim-seduction of “Gossip Girl,” arguably television’s biggest show not to earn more than five millions viewers per episode. You’re likely to see Blake Lively or Leighton Meester looking particularly gaunt as they parade around New York City or some other idyllic urban locale, while they celebrity-sigh and complain about the latest boy drama in their hyper-styled existences.

No one watched this program believing for a second that everything that takes place is gospel truth. And the show’s creators, producers, and stars are probably overwhelmingly aware of that fact. They’re not trying to sell the truth, but rather the tinsel that surrounds that truth.

Sadly, it seems to be a requirement that the tinsel fit around your waist, not a strand of it breaking, for someone to qualify to participate in the teenage-daffy dream. No matter, though. The fashion is the primary culprit: who wouldn’t want to be basically choked with an inundation of Chanel paraphernalia, drowning in Dior, waste-deep in Alexander Wang? On “Gossip,” though, only the skinny girls score the designers.

The take-home message: to get fashion, one must get thin.

Admittedly, this is not all the fault of “Gossip Girl.” The fashion industry has made no secret that their runways require rail-thin ladies to hawk a designer’s new line. Plus-sized models are enjoying a somewhat heightened reputation. Still, they continue to occupy an echelon below that of Kate Moss, whose kneecaps remain visible from space.

Media is slowly improving, though. Look at “Mad Men,” for instance, television’s most heralded production. Its star Christina Hendricks has been beyond praised for her zaftig, Rubenesque frame. Emmy nominations and movie deals cement this love for her heavenly larger, but ever-so-sexy, frame.

“Ugly Betty” successfully evaporated ideas that being heavier than a fashion model was a fashion hazard. And “Glee,” another huge hit of the zeitgeist, just completed an episode where the big girl has her way with the hunk. It’s not entirely a little girl’s world anymore. The larger ladies are doing it for themselves, and they’re demanding that the media take positive note of it.

Young ladies reading this: love yourself, love your health, and love your inner star. Take a shine to the celebs of the penultimate paragraph and know that the only way to truly be on top is to always be y-o-u, big girl or no.

## Thanks Jeff for a brilliant and intelligent post weighing up both sides of the argument!

So you have any comments about how the media affects eating disorders?

Nina Vucetic

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

nina April 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Hi Audrey,

I absolutely agree – Christina’s body is absolutely normal and perfect. The best thing to do is avoid those magazines and sites at all cost! Love who you are, accept yourself entirely and lets all do our best to promote health at every size and value ourselves from the inside.



Audrey Brashich April 13, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Isn’t it odd that when the media talks about Christina Hendricks, her body type gets called–as pointed out above– “Rubenesque” etc. when maybe what it should really be referred to is “delightfully normal” or “totally average.”

On any given month, there are photos of women whose bodies look just like hers in magazines for stories like “How to Dress to Camouflage Your Problem Areas” and gossip mags cover every celebrity slim down around. Yet somehow CH is celebrated.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m THRILLED that she is, and I think she’s an awesome role model. But the contradictions out there just leave my head spinning.


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