The Skinny Dilemma Essay, Research Paper
The Skinny Dilemma
cause and effect
“Anorexia nervosa… strike(s) a million Americans every year and… one hundred fifty thousand die annually” (Brumberg 20). This outrageous number of deaths has unfortunately been increasing since the 1970’s. This deadly disease focuses its attention on young teenage girls. 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 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 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 seem 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 exterior.