"Anorexia nervosa... strike(s) a million Americans every
year and... one hundred fifty thousand die annually"
(Brumberg 20). The number of deaths of teenage girls has
unfortunately been increasing since the 1970's. The media
gives out messages to promote their products and, knowingly
or unknowingly, sends the message to young girls that they
should and can look like the models on T.V. Immense
pressure is put on young girls to look good and to be thin.
The unfortunate consequence is that society's pressures to
be thin cause girls to become anorexic.
"The cultural explanation... postulates that anorexia
nervosa is generated by a powerful cultural imperative that
makes slimness the chief attribute of female beauty"
(Brumberg 31). Most females think that if they are not
slender, men will not find them attractive.
One of my closest friends was anorexic for a year and a
half, and even when she was down to eight percent body fat,
she still thought that she was fat. She thought that no guy
would like her because she was too obese. In fact, she was
so skinny that she was ugly. It took a lot of counseling
and a lot of friendship to help her realize that she didn't
have to be skin and bones to be attractive. Quite the
opposite is actually true.
Most men I have talked to think skinny girls are
unattractive. They prefer the curvaceousness of the woman's
body, the way it was designed. Television, films,
magazines, and advertising are the main channels of
communication which promote thinness in women.
Many women believe that the models that they see on TV have
typical bodies, when in fact "the ideal body type today is
unattainable by most women, even if they starve themselves.
Only the thinnest 5% of women in a normal weight
distribution approximate this ideal, which thus excludes
95% of American women" (Fallon, Katzman, Wooley 396). And
yet "more than half of the adult women in the United States
are currently dieting, and over three-fourths of
normal-weight American women think they are too fat'" (qtd.
in Fallon, Katzman, Wooley 396).
Obviously, the media are presenting these models in a way
that makes the average woman think she is overweight. 86
study showed that nearly 80% of fourth-grade girls in the
San Francisco Bay Area were watching their weight" (qtd. in
Fallon, Katzman, Wooley 396). There is obviously a huge
problem when girls as young as nine think they have to
watch their weight.
In most other countries, thin is not considered to be
attractive, but in the United States, young girls strive to
be thin from a very young age. "This is a major public
health problem, one that endangers the lives of young girls
and women" (Fallon, Katzman, Wooley 414).
The media seems to think that flaunting thin models around,
and making money doing it, is worth endangering the lives
of young, impressionable girls. "Magazines and movies carry
the same message, but most persistent is television,
drumming it in, day in and day out, that one can be loved
and respected only when slender" (Bruch viii). This message
is sent throughout the country everyday in advertisements
and TV shows. An ad for a bathing suit company went as far
as to say, "You've earned it. Starving and suffering got
you into shape. But it takes more than that to give you the
figure you strived for" (qtd. in Fallon, Katzman, Wooley
400). This condones starving one's self as a way to lose
weight. Many women may not realize that even short periods
of anorexia can do enough damage to their body to affect
them for life.
Anorexia has victimized an increasing number of women. This
disease proves to be deadly, time and time again, and yet
it does not seem to be deterring women. Starving one's self
is not the way to lose weight. It could be an effective way
to kill one's self, but that's probably not most women's
goal. The media consistently portrays models' bodies as
attainable to the general public, but truth be known, they
really are not. Many women strive to be thin so that they
will be liked, and in doing so, they harm their bodies.
Women should realize that there is more to them than just
physical attributes, and they should focus on those
positive aspects of themselves, rather that the superficial