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Television’s Affect on Young Teens

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Television’s Affect On Young Teens

With the ever growing world of mass media becoming more accessible to our children, we must realize the effect television has on the youth of today. The views and images portrayed on television go right to the heart of American youth. Young men and women are being taught that being over weight or not being skinny enough means that you are unattractive and lazy. The ideal female body which television portrays as being normal has gone from the voluptuous figure of Marilyn Monroe and Mimi VanDoren to the skinny waist and bust-line of Pamela Anderson and Brittany Spears. It has become an obsessive, unattainable goal for our young teenage women. These teens find themselves in an endless battle to try and attain figures that are only made possible through cosmetic surgery and a profession that pays you to look a certain way. Many girls who find themselves unhappy with their appearance turn to starvation, which later turns to binge eating, then to self-induced vomiting(Battegay 54).

Eating disorders are far more common in the United States than in any other country. While some countries like Russia and Bosnia are struggling to find food, Americans are creating problems by consuming too much of it. Americanized countries or even any other industrialized countries with the direct influence of television are found to have considerably more problems with eating disorders. Carolyn Costin states in her book The Eating Disorder Source that western women seem to be at greater risk for developing disorders and the degree of Westernization seems to increase the risk. Costin then goes on to say that Evidence suggests that anorexia nervosa is uncommon outside the Western world and in less affluent Western countries. Furthermore, when immigrants move from less industrialized countries to more industrialized countries they are more likely to develop eating disorders. Costin is trying to say that you are at a greater risk of developing an eating order such as anorexia or bulimia in an Americanized culture because of the importance and constant reminders in forms of mass media that you should look thin, loose weight and keep the weight off. These are all things that are ongoing in our brains and degrade the self-image we behold of ourselves. Constin goes on to say:

“Advertisements for taking off weight and keeping it off are found in every magazine and newspaper, on billboards, television commercials, and bumper stickers with messages such as, ‘Loose Weight Now, Ask Me How,’ ‘Lose twenty pounds, in twenty days.’ ‘Get the body that get’s guys,’ ‘Flatten your Stomach,’ ‘Reduce those thighs.’ At least twenty million people respond to the propaganda and are on a diet at any given moment.”

The problem of eating disorders is commonly addressed on television today. As depicted on the ‘prime time’ soap “Beverly Hills 90210” the actress Jenny Garth who plays Kelly on the show struggled with the abuse of weight loss pills. This informative episode on eating disorders discussed reasons for people having disorders and the feelings they felt while going through the experience. They described the feeling as helpless, and unable to change anything in their life. And also having a negative opinion about body image (Cantor 25).

Young women who watch their favorite stars with envious eyes are unable to recognize the unhealthy way in which women portray what may or may not be attractive. When young girls watch “Ally McBeal”, and they see her sleek back and slender long legs, they do not see her back bone protruding out of her skin simply because she is sickly skinny. Recently I watched an episode of “Ally McBeal” which showed Ally through many stages of the show and the continuing theme of Ally becoming increasingly more and more skinnier. I am not proposing that the disorders in these teens heads should rest on the shoulders of these leading ladies of television, but there is clearly a connection to the images shown on television and the problem with eating disorders.

Having lived my entire life watching friends going through the problems involved with having eating disorders I begin to try and think of solutions to prevent this from happening to any kids feeling pressure of maintaining an unattainable figure. Professor Raymond Battegay suggests the problem with eating disorders begins with the parents, and the matter in which you raise your children. “Too little self-strength and confirmation of their own value early in childhood. They are uneasy about themselves and belittle themselves constantly.” What Battegay is saying is that the important influence and guidance of a mother and father during the time of puberty, the time of bodily changes, can have a tremendous effect on a child.

I cannot disagree with Bettegay’s

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