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Women’s Body Image Advertising and Opposition

Introduction

Eating disorders refer to the adverse modifications in eating behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. They belong to the group of psychiatric disorders. Eating disorders are one of the most urgent problems in the modern society. They are characterized by the highest mortality rates within the group of mental disorders. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa most often occur in young females. The extreme evaluation of slimness in Western women via various media channels has enhanced the increasing of anorexia and bulimia disorders throughout the world.

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Anorexia and Bulimia — Overview

Such eating disorders as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the most problematic health condition among young women and adolescents in the U.S. These disorders represent an urgent issue on the global level as well. Anorexia and bulimia, initially, were spread in Western societies. Due to the processes of globalization, they have reached other societies. Currently, more than seventy million people suffer from these eating disorders (ED) worldwide.

Anorexia nervosa is a mental disorder. The distinctive features of anorexia are the obsessed desire to lose weight, severe food control, and the overwhelming fear of becoming stout. According to Demarque et al. (2015), the psychopathology of anorexia is connected with the overvaluation of thinness. Besides, people who suffer from this ED often have disturbances of body image. They consider themselves stout even if they are gaunt. The symptoms of bulimia nervosa and anorexia are identical. Nevertheless, these are different health conditions in terms of the nature of their development. Thus, people who suffer from bulimia are afraid of becoming fat too. They overeat at least twice a week and try to get rid of the food via self-induced vomiting, diuretics, fasting, laxatives, or extreme exercise. In other words, the binge eating occurs, and then it is followed by purging.

Theoretical Model

Several theoretical models comprise the etiology of ED occurrence. Three essential groups of factors that influence the development of these disorders should be distinguished. Psychological, biological, and environmental factors predetermine the formation of psychiatric diseases. Currently, most scholars agree that environmental factors are dominant over others if speaking about these conditions. According to this model, the new standards of female beauty are actively spread. The Western society promotes the idea of the attraction of thinness. The media are the most effective ways that can alter human minds.

The globalization brings the same tendencies in non-Western countries. Television programs, advertisements, magazines, and other media popularize the idea of slimness and stigmatize the obesity. As a result, one can be profoundly influenced by these factors. Sharan and Sundar (2015) add that “environmental factors like enrollment to ballet schools, teasing by family and friends, and comments and directives from authority figures regarding need to change weight play a role in the pathogenesis of eating disorders” (p. 291).

The thinness is the most significant mainstream in modern media nowadays. Media are the source for understanding how to look for women. As a result, those who do not meet the current requirements may later suffer from anorexia or bulimia. The impact of this environmental factors can be understood through the social comparison theory. According to it, it is a part of human nature to compare everything. People always evaluate themselves. Women observe thin actresses and models everywhere and compare themselves. As a result, they experience increasing body dissatisfaction (Vonderen & Kinnally, 2012).

Current Media Initiatives

Media have the immense impact on the development of body image in females. The Internet has always represented an impressive way of influencing people. In the recent few years, the world faced the rise of social media. Currently, social media are becoming the most significant threat to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Almost everyone can access the Internet nowadays. Young girls grow up with tablets, smartphones, and the uninterrupted access to the Internet. Social media such as Facebook or Instagram are popular ways of sharing images with ideal bodies. The use of social media differs from traditional media. This process is characterized by increased interactivity as far as users can actively search necessary information and share it with others instantaneously.

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The impact of social media should not be underestimated. For instance, almost 10 million photographs appear on Facebook every hour. In such a way, Facebook provides women with the opportunity to compare themselves to billion other pictures of ideal bodies. As a result, the body dissatisfaction rises, and it may ensue in the developing of bulimia or anorexia. Fardouly, Diedrichs, Vartanian, and Halliwell (2014) have conducted research investigating the impact of Facebook on the body image perception. The results showed that women who visited Facebook every day were more often in the bad mood due to the discrepancies of their bodies with photographs they saw.

Experts warn that Twitter, Facebook, and other social media services provide opportunities for eating disorders development in young girls. The tendency is that the girls share photographs of extremely thin models for their motivation to become the same. Such motivation aims at the developing of the feeling of disgust to the dangerous products. The most terrible fact is that numerous sites are continuously updating. New photos are uploaded, and young females enjoy the picture. The permanent observation of such images impacts one’s consciousness. As a result, many of girls try to correct their body with the help of severe diets.

The nutrition regimes that are described on various websites should be looked at separately. They are not only extremely strict but harmful as well. Millions of pictures with menus describe what to eat to lose ten kilograms in a week. Such speed of dieting is absurd. The reality shows that girls practice them and anorexia nervosa, or bulimia nervosa may develop. According to Borland and Smyth (2015), “the culture of posting the perfect selfie to a social media account means many teenagers now doctor their photographs to create a slimmer image of themselves” (p. 5).

Psychiatrists are worried about the increasing pressure of social media on young people. One simple click allows an individual to look at thousand ideal bodies. The self-dissatisfaction rises. The significant thing is that most of those pictures are Photoshopped. People do not want to understand it and decide to torture their body and organism to become the same. The truth is that they will never be the same as far as those images will continue improving as well. The research of Borland and Smyth also shows that the number of hospitalizations because of eating disorders has increased drastically in a few years. Currently, one in twenty people has some eating disorder. The most common types of them are anorexia and bulimia.

Proposal to change market initiatives

The creation of the campaign that can oppose the negative advertising about women’s body imaging can be a challenging task. It can be explained by the fact that current advertising in social media is already deeply rooted even in the unconsciousness of many women. Besides, social media is a developing sphere that cannot be controlled easily. One should possess the specialized knowledge to create a social media campaign.

First, it is necessary to analyze the nature of the disease and current media campaigns that enhance risk factors. These aspects have been already explained in the previous sections of the paper. Thus, the primary concern about bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa refers to the extreme losing of weight that is devastating for the human organism. Photographs of ideal bodies are critical risk factors. Then, it is necessary to evaluate the target audience. Teenagers and young women represent the target audience who suffers from bulimia and anorexia. The next stage in the campaign will be the analysis of current anti-anorexia and bulimia campaign and the identification of the most useful details. Finally, I will present information regarding the implementation of the campaign in social media.

Understanding of target audience is essential for setting the right priorities in any campaign. Thus, adolescents and young females are victims of anorexia and bulimia most often. Adolescents are neither children nor adults. Their mentality and the perception of the world are in the process of development. Teenagers like to become unique and not like the others. Several potential options predetermine the development of illnesses. The first is the influence of parents. For instance, a girl may say her mother that she wants to lose weight and show the pictures of bodies she likes. The mother may become angry about such an idea and scold the child. Just not to listen to the mother, a girl may start her diet alone. The other options are related to such phenomena as personal fable and the imaginary audience. These terms describe the processes that experience all teenagers.

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The first one presupposes the personal overestimation. Thus, a girl may look at the photo of a thin girl and be sure that she can be the same. Without proper control, such activity may lead to adverse outcomes. The imaginary audience is a term that describes the feeling that somebody is looking at a teenager. This sense is typical for all teenagers. Imagine the same girl who looks at the photo first and then in the mirror. She cannot stand the idea that somebody sees her imperfect body. The consequences of these thoughts may also be harmful. The situation with young women is rather different. They compare themselves to models and suffer from inner tortures for being imperfect. Besides, they may be obsessed with the idea of slimness because of the desire to be like the model and attract a lot of attention.

Having analyzed some of the current anti-anorexia and bulimia campaigns, I have concluded that most of them are focused on the increasing of population awareness of the problems. In social media, people are attracted by beautiful photographs and interesting posts. Thus, in my media campaign I will try to find methods of presenting the same information in new ways. For instance, infographics are popular modern means of sharing information.

The target audience analysis assisted me in finding out some ways of changing the current media campaign. Thus, there should be posts in social media that address mothers. Modern parents often use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for their purposes. I consider it useful to make infographics or posts that demonstrate the signs of anorexia or bulimia. Besides, there should be pieces of advice to parents concerning the methods of finding the mutual understanding with adolescent children.

One more technique is to promote the understanding that not everybody from photos looks the same in real life. This aim can be accomplished by uploading initial images and their Photoshopped versions for comparison. There are also more severe methods. Thus, it is possible to share via social media the photographs of people who suffer from acute anorexia and bulimia disorders. However, even such pictures may not stop females from dieting if they have already decided to lose weight. Because of this, it is advisable to monitor the information that is spread via the Internet and present healthy and moderate ways for losing weight.

One more initiative can be the sharing of stories of people who undergo treatment. A person may upload photos with every step towards recovery. This experience can be inspirational for others. The essential idea about the campaign implementation concerns the approach to the problem. In my opinion, writing posts about the terrible consequences of anorexia and bulimia is not very useful. The problem should not be mentioned at all. The aim of the campaign should be to teach women love their body, be able to differentiate reality from carefully prepared settings and take care of themselves in a healthy and useful ways.

References

Borland, S., & Smyth, S. (2015, July 14). Social Media Fuelling Anorexia. The Pretoria News, p. 12.

Demarque, M., Guzman, G., Morrison, E., Ahovi, J., Moro, M., & Blanchet-Collet, C. (2015). Anorexia Nervosa in a Girl of Chinese Origin: Psychological, somatic, and transcultural factors. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 20(2), 276-288.

Fardouly, J., Diedrichs, F., Vartanian, L., & Halliwell, E. (2014). Social Comparison on Social Media: the Impact of Facebook on Young Women’s Body Image Concerns and Mood. Body Image, 13(1), 38-45.

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Sharan, P., & Sundar, A. (2015). Eating Disorders in Women. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 57(2), 286-295.

Vonderen, K., & Kinnally, V. (2012). Media Effects on Body Image. American Communication Journal, 14(2), 41-57.

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