Factors Other than the Media that Influence Body Image

by anlisanguyen on September 9, 2013 - 11:31pm


The article “Body Image is Influenced by Many Factors, not Just the Media” written by Sally Driscoll and Tamara Campbell, argues that the effects that genetics and self-esteem have on the likelihood of adopting eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders (BDD) are much more grand than those of mass media. The dominance of mass media in today’s society has magnified the importance of youth and beauty. According to Driscoll and Campbell, these ideals are not the main causes that lead to anorexia, bulimia and dysmorphia. Psychiatrists state that people are likely to adopt these eating and body disorders if they already possess low self-esteem, genetic and physiological “connections.” (Driscoll and Campbell) Eating disorders have been in existence for centuries however, in the recent decades it has become increasingly prominent. Somehow along the way, mass media has shifted their focus to displaying excessively thin models and celebrity figures creating “distorted” (Driscoll and Campbell) images of the body in the minds of the young. On the other hand, researchers have seen an increase in muscle mass obsessiveness which is a type of muscle dysmorphia predominant in males. Researchers have identified that these two disorders have a strong connection to low self-esteem commonly sprouting from childhood abuse. Self-esteem is nurtured in the childhood phase (Driscoll and Campbell). Psychologist’s state that parents who pick on their children for topics regarding weight could cause issues later on when they become teenagers.


In retrospect, many people argue that mass media’s consistent display of a false image of what is deemed beautiful in today’s society has had the greatest effect on people adopting eating and body disorders. On the other end, people argue that rather than mass media playing the greatest role on causing increasing eating and body disorders, people are more likely to turn to these disorders due to low self-esteem, genetic and physiological connections. The ethical principle that is not respected by the mass media is the respect for the autonomy of others. Eating disorders and body dysphormia is a well known problem in today’s societies, and the mere fact that the media still emphasizes excessively slim and/or muscular body figures to the public is disrespecting the autonomy of others since it suggests that body figures that differ from those advertised and shown are not attractive. Since eating disorders and muscle dysphormia is also rooted to maltreatment during childhood, one could argue that parents are not respecting and being concerned of the well-being of their children. Instead of accepting their children at the weight, size and shape that they are, degrading them verbally and forcing different eating habits on them shows no care whatsoever.


From my point of view, I can see how both mass media, low self-esteem, genetic and physiological aspects contribute to the emergence of eating disorders and body dysphormia. To me, rather than one argument being stronger than the other I strongly think that they are all the same in the sense that they all contribute to the negativity that lead people to feel the need to alter their appearance. From an early age children who experienced abuse are likely to have little confidence and self-esteem. It is because of the lack of confidence in their own bodies that cause them to be vulnerable to the mass media that they become exposed to. By seeing certain images of models and actresses who possess what is deemed to be beautiful, they become obsessed with the idea that they also must obtain the same type of body. Do you agree that all the factors listed as the root of eating disorders and body dysphormia are interrelated? Or does one factor out way the rest?






Burgerjon, PaulaClydesdale, Jacqui. "Body Image & The Media: An Overview." Canadian Points Of View: Body Image & The Media (2009): 1. Canadian Points of View Reference Centre. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.


If we put aside the genetic factor, I believe that one factor out ways the rest and it is the media influence. I believe that the factor of low self-esteem is actually linked to the media influence. As you said, children who are constantly picked on because of their size will develop a low self-esteem and probably eating disorders. However, why does a parent pick on his child? Where did he get the idea that his child had not the “image”? The root of this is media influence. If we were not surrounded by all these “perfect” women and men around us, we would never have this kind of image in our heads. And by “kind of image”, I think we all understand what I mean...The image that parents want their kids to look like. So, this is why I believe that low self-esteem and psychological factors are actually derived from media influence and do not consist as roots of eating disorders and body dysphoria.

I can see where your point of view comes from and I agree. As I was attempting to explain in my final paragraph, I think that many factors that affect the way people view their own bodies (and how this could be the start to eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders) comes from the influence of mass media. In today's society, mass media has been around for a decent amount of time, so naturally it is very much possible for parents to have reflected their own experience of mass media onto their children.

When I was a child, I loved Barbie. I loved how her blue eyes sparkles right back at you without mentioning her beautiful gold hair. However, I realized as growing up that it was impossible to be Barbie. Recently, I learned that with a 16 inch waist and an ankle of six inch Barbie in real life could not even exist( http://www.fastcocreate.com/1682837/infographic-see-how-barbie-stacks-up...). The famous Barbie that was mediated all around the world and that has become an object known to everyone has been proved that in real life Barbie couldn't even exist!!!! How shocking knowing that Barbie was a model for many young kids. This is why this topic interest me, because media and society influences our world in many ways!

I would say a factor which ways out the rest would be the society factor http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2188742/How-modern-parents-chi.... The parents who "pick" on their child are mostly not to my point of view influenced by the mass media, but by their neighbors' kids or kids that go to school the same school. From my point of view, this would be an important factor that has been neglected. I think a parent would more pick on their child, because they compare their children to others and don't want him to be seen as weird and be excluded or simply they wake their child to fit in.

The ethical principle mentioned was that the respect for the autonomy of others is not respected by the mass media. In other words, should a person have autonomy on her appearance or the media has a word to say in this? Well obviously yes. People should have the ability to be master of their own bodies and decisions that imply it. The media has imposed an ideology and the society is caught in this trend. Body image...What is it from this generation that this aspect is so important? Girls want to be more skinny as a beanpole and boys the muscular the better. Then I ask this to myself but why ...why be more skinny or more muscular?? The most common answer I think would be that it attracts more girls or boys and they may be more seen as beautiful.

Most people want to be more skinny and boys more muscular. Frequently, teens act in this way just to either blend in or try to be seen attractive. However, it is rare that people desire to be like this or act like this develop eating disorders. From this article, which has great link to this subject; http://www.canadianliving.com/moms/teens/teen_eating_disorders.php, "of the women in Canada between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five, an estimated 2 per cent suffer from anorexia". This does not imply that the cause of their eating disorder is from their parents who "picked" on their child at a low age. Thus, the more important factor would be the society factor and then the mass media aspect.

It's amazing how much the people that we live around and the media that we are exposed to can influence us, isn't it?

I agree that parents who nag their children to look a certain way may be doing it because they want to prevent their children from being different. However, as the previous commentator pointed out, perhaps the children of all families are reflections of what can be seen through the media. They might be followers of the current trends. Consequently, children end up picking up ideas not only from the media but from one another. Surely the majority of people who try to achieve the body images they see on the media do not turn to eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders. The point I meant to make was that parents who abuse their children about their bodies from a young age along with genetic links and the influence of mass media are the major factors that lead to eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders.

Although the title did attract me in the first place to the article, I also found the structure of the text to be well-organized and clear. I do agree with the fact that mass media, low self-esteem, genetic and physiological are all aspects that can contribute to the emergence of eating disorders but I would argue that mass media plays the biggest role. Day after day, when we are constantly bombarded with images of what we are “supposed” to look like, after a while, obviously, it might influence what we think about ourselves. I do not think mass media embraces the value of difference. According them we should all be very skinny, have flawless faces, where branded clothes, etc. Thus, they also do not take into consideration the principal of self-acceptance/love. Why do we then keep on granting mass media with as much influence as we do?

Your title was the basis of my interest for your article simply because when talking about body image, the most common factor would be mass media. I found it intriguing how the idea of childhood development was tied into this argument, because it does truly affect your future self-esteem level. However, I still find that mass media weighs out to be stronger than genetic and physiological factors when talking about affecting body image. We are constantly being surrounded by some sort of media, whether it be commercials on tv, internet advertisements, magazine adds, etc therefore it only becomes normal to be influenced by what we are exposed to each day. I believe that the impact that social media has on humans is much stronger than believed, simply because it is constantly in our lives. We have adapted to what magazine editors and advertisement creators deem to be beautiful and that simply cannot be denied. I think that this affect of social media has played with the value of autonomy because it has caused humans to no longer think for themselves when facing the idea of body image. We have become so obsessed with what society believes to be beautiful, that we have forgotten about what WE think is beautiful. If humans continue to let mass media control their thoughts and beliefs, what other factors in our life do you think are subconsciously controlled by the media?

This is a very interesting topic because it is so present in our society where we are greatly influenced in many aspects of our lives by Medias. I agree with your opinion. I strongly believe that the environment in which one grows up can influences greatly whether or not they are likely to have eating disorders. If a child is raised in an environment with a lot of pressure concerning their image, they are more likely to have a lower self-esteem. Also, Medias can give the impression that what is socially acceptable as an image is only what is projected and advertised. Furthermore, we cannot deny that genetics and physiological aspects have an important role in this issue but they are not aspects that we can really control. However, it would be possible to limit eating disorders by creating a healthy environment for children to grow up in. We should promote the principle of equality by treating everyone the same and not creating an ideal, a perfect body image that everyone “needs” to attain. Without the pressures of resembling a social ideal and by teaching them that they should be proud of whom they are no matter their weight, size, height, etc. it could be possible to live in a world with less pressure concerning body image which would eventually reduce the eating disorders. Do you think enforcing more strict rules concerning what Medias can project as a body image can be implemented?