The media has long been an influencer in the daily lives of Americans. The fashion industry is a prime example of the nearly-endless influence that the media has. As the latest trends regarding clothing and the ideal woman’s body were showcased on the runways of New York City, the local and national media rushed to be the first to publish the news. As the media industry evolved, its influence expanded, and the incidences of eating disorders increased. The presence of anorexia nervosa treatment centers provided a stabilizing factor in the lives of those most affected by this media change.
Technology Advances Media
As technology grew, so did the influence of the media. The first media revolution was the newspaper and the second was television. Both changed the way and frequency that the American public consumed the latest news. There was still often a delay, though, between when an event occurred and when the general public received word of it. With the advent of the internet and the growth of social media, the ability to experience news and trends in real-time made it possible for people from all walks of life to get a peek into the lives of others. From the super-exciting daily experiences that a leading makeup guru posts on her Instagram account to the latest fad diets and exercises that are guaranteed to whittle away the pounds, today’s young people — females in particular — are faced with even greater expectations and pressure to live up these ideas of perfection.
Beauty Isn’t Just Skin Deep
The media has a long history of dictating what the ideal woman should look like and how she should act. While much of this has been focused on females maintaining a slender yet shapely body, other aspects concerning body image also come into play here. Athletes, for example, are held to a standard that is impossible to attain. Not only must they be within the “right” weight range for their sport, but these young female athletes must also retain their femininity as well. This one-two punch puts great pressure on young females whose bodies and minds are still developing.
It Goes Beyond the Physical
Just like most other aspects of life, however, this media influence isn’t just one dimensional. When girls and young women constantly hear and see evidence via the media that they simply aren’t up to par and not good enough, it can have devastating effects on their psyche as well. Indeed, there are few people in the world who would be able to hold up emotionally and mentally while being told constantly that they didn’t measure up.
Social Media Ups the Ante
As if the media industry as a whole and its skewed message weren’t enough, there is the social media aspect. Not only can girls instantly see how they aren’t measuring up against their competition and peers via live feeds, videos, and other real-time options, but they can — and often are — the target of bullying when they are seen as “less than.” Much of this bullying happens behind the cloak of private messages so those people with an opinion that offers a balance aren’t given a voice.
Sometimes, though, this does occur in a public venue — such as on Instagram comments, for example. In many cases, this results in a type of “us against her” mentality. This is marked by a flood of disparaging comments regarding the shortcomings of the female in question. Though there is often a supportive voice or two in the mix, their opinions are usually drowned out by the influx of cruel and barbed comments that are designed to strip the young woman of her sense of self-esteem and pride.
The Results of Media Pressure
Not surprisingly, much of this pressure and bullying centers on eating. A young woman is encouraged to eat a minimal amount in order to maintain an ideal body shape that’s slender but that also has curves in “all the right places.” Athletes are often pressured by coaches and even their parents to maintain a certain level of weight to better support their athletic abilities. Often, these important people in the young woman’s life turn to the media for evidence to back up their claims of watching their weight.
For example, a coach might search out for a write-up regarding a 1980s Olympics gymnastics star as something to strive for and point out how the trends of weight and winning have held true for decades. Most coaches aren’t doing this as a way to shame or bully their students. Instead, they are using this research as a method of encouragement. However, with such an almost singular focus on the female athlete’s weight, it doesn’t take much for girls and young women to realize that they aren’t measuring up.
Times Are Changing
While the media’s influence is only one factor that can lead to a distorted body image for young people — particularly girls — it is a very powerful one. Fortunately, there are signs of change. Bullying tactics that were once upheld as ways of motivating players and athletes are now being called out for the harmful practices that they are. Some innovative media campaigns celebrate the vastly different shapes and sizes that the female body can come in and encourage others to embrace themselves — warts and all.
Online bullying is now recognized as a significant factor that can lead to a host of unhealthy behaviors in people of all ages. However, young people are particularly susceptible to the cruel barbs that so often make up these attacks. Not only are the foundations of their personality still forming, but these barbs are often lodged by those who are important figures in a person’s life. This double-edged attack can lead to disordered behaviors that could have long-term effects on their body and mind.
Body Image and Eating Disorders
It shouldn’t be a surprise that many young people — especially females — who feel dissatisfaction with their body image turn to food and exercise as a way to make themselves feel better. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the average teenager in America sees more than 5,250 media messages every year that support the notion that being thin is both more attractive and desirable. In fact, nearly 75 percent of the articles that teen girls read regarding exercise didn’t focus on the activity as a way of being healthier. Instead, these media messages pointed to the activity as being a good way for girls to increase their attractiveness. Not surprisingly, teen girls get most of their health information from the media, so they are fed a nearly-constant diet of “thin is more attractive.”
This can lead to a distorted body image where girls rely on dangerous behaviors to help them keep their weight under control. This could be in the form of following an extremely restrictive diet that only allows for low-calorie foods. Some girls aren’t able to control their hunger and other urges to eat so they binge on excessive quantities of food. The feelings of guilt that follow often prompt them to purge themselves via vomiting and/or laxatives. It can sometimes be difficult for young people to understand how maintaining a low weight can be negative. After all, many health articles bemoan the fact that Americans are getting heavier and the condition is at great cost to their health. Eating disorders can lead to serious health problems and even death in as many as 20 percent of those who have the disease.
The Role of Anorexia Nervosa Treatment Centers
Anorexia nervosa treatment is a complex and multi-faceted undertaking that requires the expertise, experience, and compassion found in a dedicated anorexia nervosa treatment center. In this do-it-yourself world that is thriving now, many families who are concerned about their young females might think that their anorexia nervosa treatment options include treatments that they can perform at home and without the guidance of a professional. While the support, love, and encouragement of family and friends is a vital component of anorexia nervosa recovery, this complex condition is best treated with the oversight and guidance of professionals at an anorexia nervosa treatment center.
A key factor in anorexia nervosa treatment focuses on counteracting those harmful messages regarding body image, self-worth, and food that young people are bombarded with on a daily basis. This component, however, goes far beyond simply regurgitating the facts that every young person is lovable and important — regardless of their weight, whether or not they took their team to the championship or if they attained an Olympic gold medal in their sport. An effective anorexia nervosa treatment plan contains many layers and components that have been proven to be effective at addressing the negative images that they see and read in the media.
Compassion and Talent Are a Must When Seeking Anorexia Nervosa Treatment
Though anorexia nervosa treatment centers are medical facilities, the best ones don’t treat their young people as a number or offer them a cookie-cutter solution. Instead, compassion must be combined with a passion to help each individual who arrives on their grounds. When it comes to tending the soul so that a fully-recovered and healthy self can emerge, an anorexia nervosa treatment center populated by recovered staff makes a noticeable difference. After all, who is better to lend guidance and support for a complex condition such as an eating disorder than another person who has also struggled with the same fears, regrets, and thoughts?
A “people first, patients second” mentality supports each individual exactly where they are each day. Truth without judgment must be a key foundational quality of any anorexia nervosa treatment center because it is only with this mindset that young people will have the support they need to begin healing into their healthy self.
At Monte Nido, they focus on implementing evidence-based clinical knowledge in the form of compassionate and supportive recovered staff to provide those individuals with eating disorders with the resources they need to achieve anorexia nervosa recovery. Luxurious facilities and world-class medical treatment help individuals feel like they are in a home-based environment. Monte Nido is fully equipped to process the co-occurring conditions — such as mental health disorders or drug addiction — that often accompany eating disorders.
In addition to a full roster of personalized activities that are designed to support young women and men as they embrace anorexia nervosa recovery, Monte Nido also provides frequent off-site activities. Not only are these fun and a nice break from the daily environment, but they also allow both individuals and staff to bond with each other in a more casual and personal manner. Though Monte Nido uses only clinical methodology that’s grounded in extensive research, there is an absence of the hands-off and cold approach that is often seen in anorexia nervosa treatment centers. Instead, individuals experience warm and caring interactions from the recovered staff multiple times on a daily basis.
If you’re concerned that a young person is your life is internalizing the negative media messages they see, contact the caring and knowledgeable professional staff at Monte Nido today. They are always happy to provide guidance and answer any questions you might have during this challenging time.