Now the battle centres on a new morality of food and eating. We accuse the media, by glorifying the culture of thinness, of causing an epidemic of eating distress, especially among young women. The media denies culpability, or at least responsibility for doing anything about it. Kelly Brownell, a US expert in eating disorders, argues that the media contribute to a toxic environment in which eating disorders may be more likely to occur. This is because of the “Damaging Paradox” of modern society in which the media promotes, in a compelling manner, a low weight sculptured ideal body.
At the same time the environment provides an increasing array of foods high in fat and calories, with compelling pressures to consume these products. As a result we are getting heavier, and the gap between the ideal and normal body weight is giving rise to anxiety. We seek to reduce this anxiety by reducing our body weight, the preferred method being to go on a diet, since we believe that weight IS under our control and, in addition we believe that once weight is lost it should not be regained. But dieting causes rebound binge eating and attempts to deal with this, by going on further diets, will lead many people into a disturbed relationships with food.
The latest “POSTMODERN” thinking on the role of media is that it provides learning that is incidental rather than direct, and it is a significant part of the acculturation process.
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Eating disorders are often blamed on the social pressure to be thin, as young people in particular feel they should look a certain way. However, the causes are usually more complex.