The Media and Eating Disorders

Yes.. It’s Real Life

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on May 5, 2011

There are so many facts that support the truth behind media and eating disorders but to some people it can seem like such a unbelieveable obsession they just don’t believe it.

  • 10 million women suffer a year from eating disorders
  • 10-15% of all Americans at some point suffer an eating disorder
  • Seventy-seven percent of individuals with eating disorders report that the illness can last anywhere from one to 15 years or even longer in some cases. It is estimated that approximately six percent of serious cases die.
  • As many as 10% of college women suffer from a clinical or nearly clinical eating disorder, including 5.1% who suffer from bulimia nervosa

Here is a true story of a girl I interviewed about the medias influence on her life.  The name is remaining anonymous for her personal reasons…

“Ever since I was born I lived in NYC, I loved walking around, shopping hanging out with friends and having fun.  I remember vividly one day where there was a billboard that showed models and on the billboard it said, “Want to look like us? Just Ask.”  Below that quote had a website which i went on the second I got home.  It had different ways to lose weight to look like those girls on the billboard… looking back at it, it was healthy ways to lose weight but not for a 12-year-old girl.  Once I was hooked on exercising and eating either extremely healthy foods or nothing at all I didn’t see any changes.  I then got into magazines and looked into how celebrities would lose weight, I also would look these facts up online.  Over time it became an obsession.  Id eat food and then feel guilty because it might not have been the right food to eat, Id question myself and then purge…

Eventually my friends and family noticed and sat me down to ask me if I was doing ok because I had lost so much weight in just a year.  Since I was so young no one thought of it as anything, but once i got into middle school and highschool that is when people became concerned.  It had become part of my daily routine and I didn’t know how to live without it. So much time had gone by that I didn’t think of it as being weird.  Eventually I realised I had a huge problem, I realized it when my room was filled with magazines, work out DVDs, online Ads, and there was only room for my bed.  It had taken over my life and it was my turn to step in and take control.  I went to counselors, nutritionists, doctors.. you name it.  I was determined. They told me my teeth had NO enamel because of the acid in the throw up.  I had to get surgery on my mouth so they wouldn’t fall out.  It took a couple of years but now I can look at myself and tell myself im beautiful, no magazine or AD can change me.”



Hidden Messages

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on May 5, 2011

There are more than just places like TV, Newspapers, Magazines, Billboards Ect. that show off what the “perfect body” image is supposed to look like.  It is also in very public places such as cheerleaders, ice girls, and dancers at professional sports games that are hired to pump up the fans.  Personally I have never in my life seen a girl with a pound to spare at these events.  I also personally know people who have been in these positions and not only do they have very strict diets but they also have extremely intense works outs.  Aside from them being in shape they are also sent to a team dentist, team hair stylist, and team laser hair removal professional… anything they need to be done beauty wise.. the sport team covers it.  While these girls all look beautiful; the fans young and old all question themselves and ask why they cant look at that.  Not only do these girls need to look like this because it is what the media portrays as “perfect” but if these real life girls look like this and girls in the media do too, then why not try to do it the easy quick way with the fad diets, or just not eating, or purging.

Here are just a few requirements for Patriots Cheerleader/Dance Squad Tryouts

  • Your hair and make-up should be “performance” ready. Think “glamour” rather than “sporty.”
  •  swimsuit category will be included in the final audition process
  • he ladies have also appeared in national publications such as Maxim, Muscle and Fitness, FHM (U.S. and China publications) and Men’s Style.

Just remember, next time you are at a sports game and spot one of these beautiful women, know they are trained extremely well by professionals, get professional make up and hair done, and most likely their beauty didn’t come naturally.

Patriots Cheerleaders

“Are you willing to give up these buns for those buns?”

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on May 4, 2011

Fad Diets… What are they?

“Fad diets are fashionable diets that generally do not result in long-term weight loss. Fad diets are often dangerous to your health if undertaken for a long duration as they often eliminate many important food groups from your diet”(nutrition-dictionary).

I asked a few people what a Fad Diet was and here were their responses..

  • HK: “It is a quick diet where you only eat a specific type of food and lose weight fast”
  • SM: “Easy ways to lose weight, but they don’t last.. my mom did one and practically starved her self and once she lost all her weight she gained it all back.”
  • OH: ” Different diets that a lot of celebrities use to lose weight fast.”

So why do so many people still try and use these diets? Well it says it in all of the definitions above.  It is fast and easy and people see celebrities doing it and succeeding so why cant they?  What the general pubic doesn’t know is that the celebrities could campaign for a weight loss product but don’t nesesarily use it. The Kardashian’s have slipped up and admitted they don’t even use any of the diets the media says they use.

So if you want to know how to effectively lose weight here are some healthy, and long term fat loss key factors:

  • Follow a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Lose weight gradually

UI Health Care

Finding a Healthy Balance

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on May 4, 2011

How can you prevent someone from being influenced by the media?  There really is no solution from that unless you are locked in a closet or walk on the streets with your head down.  Here are some things to focus on…

  • Weight: aim for a healthy realistic weight for YOUR body type
  • Media: Read magazines that promote different body types, change the TV show channels that show people for sex objects
  • Body: Accept your body how it is, be thankful for the different things your body does on a daily basis
  • Food: Eat healthy, balanced meals as a day.  Your body will thank you and so will your self esteem.  Have some junk food.. but in moderation.  Be aware of when you are hungry and when you are full
  • Exercise: Get at-least 30 minutes of activity a day, and choose to do activities you enjoy.. you don’t HAVE to go to the gym

If you know someone who may potentially be suffering an eating disorder and want to help… look on line for different ways.  Here is a good website with step by step tools.


Help Guide

Finding a Balance


Eating Disorders Across the Lifespan

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on April 17, 2011

Eating disorders are assumed mostly to affect young children.  When in reality eating disorders affect people of all ages.  Here are some facts about each age group; reasons why they might have eating disorders, symptoms, and how to help them. **Note that each age group is affected by some type of media.

  • Children/Teens– Since 2002 eating disorders have become more prevalint in children because the media is becoming more of a way of life and specifically targets younger kids.  Children with Eating Disorders are at great risk for medical problems; it is during a critical growth time, and could stunt the growth forever.  Children are at greater risk for anxiety, and social issues.  Therapy for children works the best because they are more open to different opinions
  • Mid-Life Women– Over the past decade eating disorders for women over 40 has increased by 400%. There are many reasons midlife women have eating disorders.   Deaths in the family, divorce, illness, evidence of aging, and the media.  To help midlife women a lot of psychotherapy is needed.  There is also spiritual component. *Eating disorders over the age 35 are commonly looked over because a lot of doctors assume adults dont have them
  • The Elderly– The elderly are the most under the radar for Eating Disorders.  This is mostly because there are other parts of the elderlys life that is concerning.  But, when it is over looked tragedy usually occours. Research shows that  78% of deaths of 65 years+ is from Anorexia Nervousa.  This is true because once an elederly person stops eating healthy it can affect them a lot quicker than a young person.  These disorders also go unnoticed because a lot of elderly are living on their own and its harder to notice.  Many elderly people are in depression because of a loss of a loved one… Not eating is a huge contributer to their eating disorders.  To help this elderly need to eat healthy meals, sometimes medications are given to give them an appetite.

Counselor Magazine

Women\’s Health

Is a perfect body needed to be the perfect athlete?

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on April 17, 2011

Sports are a huge part of todays culture.  A lot of kids growing up play some type of sport or participate in some type of activity that involves exercise.  Believe it or not there are sports that have more history of the athletes with eating disorders than not.  The top three sports that eating disorders are most common in are ballet and other dancers, figure skating, and gymnastics.

These sports are most common in eating disorders because they require the most emphasis on appearance, require speed, lightness, agility, and quickness.  The eating disorders that are found in these three sports are anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and compulsive exercise.

“Many athletes are targets of media prey. Win or lose, their performance and life is publicly dissected by the media. Winning brings about media glorification and expectation, and/or jealousy and criticism. Losing brings forth negative judgment and more criticism.”

So when the media is portraying that winning is the only thing that is important, these athletes will look at the perfect image of the specific athlete that is looked up to in the sport and try to be like them.  Yes, most successful figure skaters have a specific appearance, they are fast, have good agility and quickness.  But they also have healthy diets (usually planned by a dietitian), have professional trainers, and dedicate their lives to the sport. Kids don’t usually see that when they are watching Sasha Cohen or Michelle Kwan on TV.  They don’t see the hard work the skaters have put in for years, the drama they had to go through, the ups and the downs behind it.  All they see is the one or two performances and want to be just like that skater/athlete and the media doesn’t exactly help that when they easily could.

This subject is very close to home for me because I grew up figure skating.  I know of a few girls who ended up in the hospital with eating disorders from it because it is such a demanding sport.  The pressure was too much for me so I went on to do synchronized skating, where it is a team of up to 20 girls working together.  This sport had less pressure and more reward in the end because it wasnt as selective.  I was also on a team that represented USA and traveled the world.  I would never have been able to do this with single skating because it is so competitive.

What the media doesn’t show is this sport, I don’t really know why.  In my opinion it is a safer way of figure skating.  Not bashing on single skating at all, I still believe it is an amazing sport.  But if the media would show more in synchronized skating and publicize it more, than maybe less skaters would have an eating disorder and go through hell and back just to be a perfect skater.

Here is a video of what synchronized skating is, this is a video for World Championships held in Colorado.  This is the furthest you can go in synchronized skating, because it isn’t in the Olympics…


The Sport Journal

American Public University System

Youtube Video

Is the size ZERO really the HERO?

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on April 17, 2011

“I’ll never forget the piece of advice I got from people in the industry when they saw my new body,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “They said, ‘You need to lose more weight. The look this year is anorexia. We don’t want you to be anorexic but that’s what we want you to look like.'”

Coco Rocha, a new and upcoming model was told this, she was told to “look anorexic” at age 15.  Coco Rocha was one of very few models who stood up for herself.  She knew that so many girls would look up to her because she is a young model; she wanted to “win the hearts and minds of the teenagers and young girls who look up to them.” So…   She wrote emails, and made this quote public so everyone would know that models aren’t all naturally a size zero.

Last New York Fashion Week had a goal in mind.  Their goal was to get more curves on the runway.  In a way they succeeded with sized 0, 2, and 4 girls.  But is that really what they call more curves?  To the American public sizes 0-4 are exremely small sizes and most people would never call that curvy.  Designers also were sending out girls who were 13 years old and pre-pubescent, so of course they wouldnt have any curves.  After Fashion Week was done and over, a poll went out to teens asking if they feel pressured by fashion industry to be thin.  Here are the results, “Almost nine in 10 American teenage girls say they feel pressured by the fashion and media industries to be skinny and that an unrealistic, unattainable image of beauty has been created”

An advice columnist for Girls’ Life Magazine gets emails and letters daily from young girls asking how to become models.  Shey ask questions about loosing weight, and how to do it.  A loft of these young girls also speak to her about diet pills, and explain to her why purging after meals makes them feel better and don’t understand why its so bad for you.  One girl says describes modeling as glamorous, so thats why she wants to be just like a model… she just wants to bed glamorous.

Huffington Post


Celebs and Eating Disorders

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on April 14, 2011

Anyone can struggle from an eating disorder but not every person whose struggles take over their daily lives are made public knowledge.  Celebrities who have struggled or currently struggle with severe eating disorders are bombarded daily by the media.  People look up to celebrities, so should these celebrities with these eating disorders be so publically known about?  The media is always looking for an interesting story and most of the time it isn’t a positive one.  The celebrities that are going through an eating disorder probably aren’t happy with themselves and have an insecurity just like any regular person.    With a subject like eating disorders the media could put a positive spin on it and try to help the cause but instead they just criticize the celebrities which probably makes a negative impact on people who are going through the same issues as the celebrities.

One celebrity who has spoken about her eating disorder is Demi Lovato.  This is something posotive because she is so young and young girls can relate to her.  Demi says, “If you are going through that dark period, go to your family and closest friends. Don’t put yourself in danger. It’s very crucial that you get your feelings out – but don’t ever inflict harm on your own body because your body is so sacred. I wish I could tell every young girl with an eating disorder, or who has harmed herself in any way, that she’s worthy of life and that her life has meaning. You can overcome and get through anything.”


National Eating Disorders

Skinny vs. Curvy

“Campaign for Beauty”

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on April 11, 2011

“The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” is a campaign that was launched in 2004 to make girls and women see that they are beautiful despite what the media says.   “The principle behind the campaign is to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves”  Although the Campaign for Beauty doesn’t directly deal with eating disorders, but thats what they are trying to prevent through their campaigning, they want to show through the media, that the media has potential to destroy peoples lives.

  • Only 2% of women around the world described themselves as beautiful
  • 2/3 of women strongly agree that, “The Media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women cant ever achieve.”

These are the two main facts found in the global study that influenced the launch of the campaign.  Over the past seven years The Dove Campaign has done extensive research on how the public views themselves, and their perception of what beauty is, and they work off of it.   On the dove campaign website there are different tools, ways to host workshops and guides that can be done online or in person, articles, facts, and other peoples stories to help the cause.  One of their big workshops is called Moms & Mentors.  Moms & Mentors is a program done for parents and their children because young children look up to their parents and learn from them, this program gives moms or parents good tools to guiding their children in a good direction.  Dove Campaign also believes strongly in making videos that show the truth about media and self-esteem (like the one above).  So far in the campaign 7 million lives have been reached with a goal to reach 15 million by the year 2015.

Dove Campaign

National Organization for Women (NOW)

The Barbie Effect

Posted in Uncategorized by Lyndsay Handell on April 11, 2011

“Barbie’s small and so petite,
Her clothes and figure look so neat…
Some day I’m gonna be exactly like you
Till then I know just what I’ll do.
I’ll make believe I’m you.”

Here are the words to the first ever barbie commercial first aired in 1959.   Starting at a young age most kids are exposed to Barbies, Barbie is portrayed as having a “perfect” body.  She has a tiny waist, big bust, long legs, perfect hair,perfect skin, and permanent makeup.  Not only is her body perfect but so is her life.  She can have whatever job she wants; she can be a babysitter or she can be a doctor, she has multiple homes including mansions, you cant forget about her jeep, and to top it all off she has the perfect boyfriend.  All these factors lead to the “Barbie Effect”. When kids are exposed to this fictional character at such a young age they are given an image of what they need to look like to live in this perfect world.  As time went on different Barbie products were produced including the life-size Barbie and the Barbie jeep.  Although the Life-Size Barbie is a much bigger version of the small Barbies, she still has the perfect body and you can buy different outfits for her and yourself so you match her.  What is this telling young kids?  Is it telling them they need to look like these Barbies to be successful in life? Barbies have been around for  50+ years now. Do you think there is a link to the fact that that since 1960 eating disorder rates have doubled and according to Eating Disorder Statistics,  “Children as young as 5 years old are expressing concern about their appearance, while children as young as 7 have been formally diagnosed with eating disorders.”


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