The media has immense influence on many aspects of our daily lives, from
politics to the latest fashion trends. We receive opinions, whether explicitly or implicitly,
from a wide variety of sources such as: television, magazines, radio, and newspapers.
Through repeated exposure to this media, the public can internalize the values that are
Internalization is the process of acceptance of a set of norms established by
people or groups which are influential to the individual (Wikipedia, 2008). One of the
most prevalent and problematic value that is expressed through the media is the thin
ideal, or the concept that a woman has to be slender in order to be beautiful. This concept
damages the self-esteem of many individuals, and is a major cause of life- threatening
eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder
characterized by pathological fear of becoming fat, distorted body image, excessive
dieting, and emaciation (Dictionary.com, 2008). Bulimia is described as an eating
disorder characterized by uncontrolled rapid ingestion of large quantities of food over a
short period of time, followed by self-induced vomiting, fasting, and other measures to
prevent weight gain (Dictionary.com, 2008). These diseases affect millions of Americans
yearly, and are a consequence of lowered body satisfaction brought on by the media,
Hollywood, and our society’s fixation with being flawless.
Images of the thin ideal are thrown at the public on a daily basis through
television, film, and magazines.
Marika Tiggemann argues that “mass media are
probably the most powerful conveyors of sociocultural ideals” (Tiggemann, 1996) It’s
hard to debate given the fact that ninety nine percent of households in the U.S. own at
least one television, and Americans watch a combined two hundred and fifty billion hours
of television yearly. (TV-Free America, 2007) Not to mention the millions of magazine