A psychotherapist told me that she was at the cinema with two teenage girls who had bought large packets of sweets which they ate during the performance. Later, at a restaurant, they felt so satiated they were unable to eat any nutritious food.
The film Pearl Harbor had three leading roles:
The two male roles were played by actors of normal weight, while the actress playing the female role was extremely slim and this was frequently emphasised. Afterwards, both girls said how much they enjoyed the film and how beautiful the leading actress was.
They wanted to look like her.
Nowadays, we are surrounded by tempting junk
food which tends to push out the nutritious food children need in order to maintain health and strength. Seemingly abstract notions such as vitamins, mineral nutrients, amino acids, etc. lack attractiveness.
The message society gives to those
girls is full of contradictions. On one hand it emphasises an abnormally slim
female figure as ideal and on the other they are tempted to eat unhealthy fattening
junk food. This media effect on the body image of women is dangerous. It is not surprising that some teenagers become ill when subjected to
such contradictory propaganda.
Society must change its message as it is
directed towards innocent children who are unable to appreciate the long-term
consequences of replacing nutritious food with empty calories. Teenage girls are
especially vulnerable to the idea that an attractive woman is extremely slim.
In order to become as slim as the heroine in the film, many women must develop
an eating disorder. Even then only a few will succeed and the rest will get bulimia
nervosa and perhaps never achieve the super slim ideal.
It is imperative
that society change its message concerning both junk food and the slimness ideal.
Society has done this for tobacco, alcohol and drugs by means of a combination
of legislation and public opinion. Many countries now have laws which in various
ways, forbid or limit advertising of these harmful substances.
can successfully limit smoking by legislation, it should be possible to use the
same method in the area of eating disorders. Self-control is insufficient. Legislation
or some other action by society is essential if we are to prevent generations
of young women destroying their lives by eating disorders. The idealization of
unhealthily slim women in the mass media must be discussed together with restrictions
on advertising harmful junk food.