While there is no single cause of abnormal eating behaviors, research suggests that media increasingly contribute to disordered eating and body dissatisfaction. Many television programs focus on the value of being attractive, causing children, teens, and adults to have a new standard for self-worth. Magazines, furthermore, publish images of thin and flawless models, influencing others to emulate them.
Thinness and Self-Worth
Spending hours in front of TV usually tells people to lose weight and strive to be thin, as doing so will make them more valuable. Overweight characters are usually perceived lazy or unattractive, while those who are thin are the popular and successful ones. Eating disorder treatment centers in Kansas City note that the media is telling everyone that outside appearance matters than what is inside.
Dieting and Happiness
Advertisements about losing weight also tell people that dieting or buying a diet product will make them feel better and happier. These advertisements are almost everywhere — in televisions, magazines, newspapers, and billboards. The sad part is, not all of these images are real, as some models go through plastic surgery, and photos are edited before publication.
Impressing Others on Social Media
Studies also suggest the social media contribute to the problem. This is because like models, teens pose and pout to publish selfie images on social media sites like Facebook. Posing has become an obsession for some, with people spending too many hours taking pictures and finding the perfect pose or angle. This is to impress others that they look better or thinner.
Comparison with Selfies
While selfies alone do not cause eating disorder, they usually lead to comparison and low self-esteem. A UK research notes that women documenting their weight loss through selfies and sharing them with others can fuel the disorder. Competitive selfie images contribute to psychological pressures that can cause body dissatisfaction among others.
Media are not the only reason people develop eating disorders. This is because anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are complex disorders with underlying issues. Images or unrealistic beauty ideals cause distorted perception of self-worth, which contribute to or to aggravate an eating disorder.