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Relationship Between Mass Media’s Portrayal of the Female Body and Eating Disorders: How Girls are Affected - A Multicultural Approach Since our group’s.

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Presentation on theme: "Relationship Between Mass Media’s Portrayal of the Female Body and Eating Disorders: How Girls are Affected - A Multicultural Approach Since our group’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Relationship Between Mass Media’s Portrayal of the Female Body and Eating Disorders: How Girls are Affected - A Multicultural Approach Since our group’s topic covers mass media, we felt it appropriate to use multimedia in our presentation. We hope you enjoy it. Couple of terms: Anorexia (literally starving yourself to death, unrealistic view of your body) usually extreme exercising. Bulimia (binge-eating): eat and then purge either by vomiting or use of laxatives Ai-Lun will talk about the power of advertising. Donna will take a pragmatic look at mass media, self-esteem and eating disorders within the context of ethnicity. Zaha will discuss some theories that have emphasized the role of patriarchy, hegemony, and power on women's perception to their bodies. Also the role of men in objectifying women. Delanna will discuss social influences and causes and finish with some possible solutions. Presented by: Zaha Alsuwailan Donna Carnduff Delanna Reed Ai-Lun Wu

2 Body Image is Shaped by Many Factors
Judgments or comments from others Sexual and racial harassment Stigmatization Prevailing social values Physical changes in the body during puberty, menopause & pregnancy Socialization How the individual feels about him/herself Violence – verbal, physical or sexual abuse Actual conditions of the body – illness or disabilities Eating Disorders are used to overcome traumas such as sexual abuse, heterosexism, poverty, racism and class injuries.

3 Social Influences/Causes
1. Females are valued for their attractiveness Whatever their race, class or ethnicity, most women growing up in North America learn to dislike their appearance and place a high premium on the cultural ideals of beauty. 2. Parental influences produce gender stereotypes Parents describe infant daughters as beautiful, soft, and cute and rate their sons as stronger and hardier. Research shows strong correlation between parental dieting efforts and encouraging a child to diet.

4 Social Influences/Causes
3. Fat is stigmatized Western society promotes widespread hatred and fear of fat. Studies show that children as young as yrs. Old have developed extremely negative stereotypes about fat. Fat people have lower rates of acceptance to college, reduced likelihood of being hired for jobs and lower rates of pay 4. Media Image By high school, children have watched 15,000 hours of TV & spent 11,000 hours in school. They have seen 350,000 advertisements, half of which are selling food. Over half of these commercials stress the importance of being thin and beautiful. A study of three women's magazines reported that the percentage of thin female models rose from 3% in the 1950's to 46% in the 1980's.

5 Social Influences/Causes
5. Medical Profession In spite of the evidence to the contrary, many health professionals and most people believe that body fat causes medical problems, and interpret "overweight" as a physical and psychological disease. In reality, many large women, pregnant or not, are quite healthy. 6. Negative Self-Image and Low Self-Esteem The wide gap between the ideal of beauty for women and the reality that each woman must contend with leads many to think they have failed. Feelings of failure lead to body image problems and periodic dieting and weight preoccupation that, in turn, lead to greater feelings of failure. Twice as many young women as men do not feel good about themselves and young women's sense of self-esteem and self-confidence diminish as they grow older.

6 Poor Body Image Affects All Women
A study of young Native American women (Chippewa) found that 74% were trying to lose weight (Rosen et al., 1988). In a recent study conducted through Essence Magazine, researchers found that black women engage in weight reduction behaviors as frequently or more frequently than white women. A study on the influence of sexual orientation on body dissatisfaction showed that both lesbian and heterosexual women had comparable levels of body dissatisfaction. A 10-year study of eating disorders in more than 2,000 girls (grades 4 through 12) found amongst 7th graders, more Hispanic girls reported frequent weight loss attempts over the previous year than did black or white girls.

7 The Power of Advertising
Advertising is the most influential media in our culture It reflects our daydreams, affects what we eat, what we wear, how we look and play. Advertising is not just an economic entity; it deals with ideas, attitudes, and values. Advertising has been called the most power media influence in adapting and changing habits and modes of life; it reflects what we eat, what we wear, how we look and play. Advertising has vast power to shape popular standards; it is also one of the limited groups of institutions which exercise social power.

8 Perfection

9 Women in Advertising Media portrays women in debilitating, demeaning and inaccurate ways It presents women as flawless, decorative objects, dependent on men and it ignores the complexity of women’s lives. Women in advertising are not only potentially debilitating and demeaning, and also inaccurate. Today’s advertisements do not reflect what women have achieved in our society. Ads ignore the women who become doctors, lawyers, politicians, entrepreneurs, decision makers, and business travelers. Ads completely ignore the complexities of modern women’s lives.

10 Women Dependent on Men Women’s Place is at Home

11 Stereotypes Women’s place is at home Women need to depend upon men
Women do not make independent decision Women view themselves and are viewed as sex objects. Ads to women are filled with stereotypes. Ads present traditional, limited, and often demeaning stereotypes of women and men. Women’s place is home; women need to depend upon men; women do not have professional jobs; women viewed themselves and are viewed as sex objects.

12 Women are Decorative/Sex Objects

13 Women are Shown… Women are shown as less authoritative, active, powerful, rational, decisive, and more concerned with youth and with their attractiveness. Women are depicted as less intelligent than men and tend to have subservient occupations. Women are shown to have different characteristics from men; women are less powerful rational, and more decisive, and more concerned with beauty; women are low-status, subservient occupations.

14 Beauty Myth Models present a new “ melting pot” of beauty ( all colors, all creeds, all ethnicity -and all still young, thin, and flawless). Advertising portray women as white with white standards of beauty derived from myths of whiteness. Media presents all women as white women. White women, white beauty standards, white myths. Media does not present women of color or women of age. Only 1 % of ads use Africa American or older models, regardless their percentages in the population (12%-16%).

15 Women are Flawless

16 Cultivating Images of Thinness
In advertising, women receive more messages about slimness and staying in shape than men do, because thinness is associated with good health and attractiveness. In fact, images of thinness are a cause of the eating disorders of bulimia and anorexia. Women receive more messages about slimness and staying in shape than men do. Eating disorders are caused by social environments.

17 Thin is Beautiful Thinness is Associated with Health

18 Ads and Articles in 48 Women’s Vs. 48 Men’s Magazines
Female: Green Male: Blue Alcoholic Bev

19 Magazine Models Before I talk about eating disorders and self-esteem issues within the context of ethnicity, I’d like to piggy back off Ai-Lun’s presentation. Mass media displays the female body but is any of it real? This is Jamie Lee Curtis. She had a perfect body twenty years ago. But this is how she looks now at 43, without the makeup and air brush. Notice the sides of her abdomen and the quick face lift. She did something very unique, a photo shoot for More Magazine…Well, let’s let Jamie Lee tell you about it herself. PLAY VIDEO While researching articles about eating disorders I found some interesting albeit scary trends emerging. I’d like to present these findings as ‘factoids’ on the next couple of slides. I’m going to let you read the slides yourself as Trisha Yearwood gives you her thoughts on what makes a Real Live Woman. NEXT SLIDE

20 Factoids 32% of female TV network characters are underweight; 3% overweight 5% of females in U.S. are underweight; 25% overweight 90% of people with eating disorders are women According to Health magazine, Apr 2002

21 Factoids Depression & low self-esteem pervasive problem for American women Lower income women more likely to have low self-esteem Younger women more depressed than older 43% of women ages report severe depression in a given week National Survey of Women’s Health

22 Magazine Images on Perfection

23 Factoids 80% of American women dissatisfied with body
42% 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner 81% 10 year olds are afraid of being fat 5-10 million girls and women struggling with eating disorders According to National Eating Disorders Association

24 Factoids MTV is the favorite TV show for girls age 11-19
90% of the top 100 music videos shown on MTV were directed by men Individuals who immigrate to the U.S. under the age of 17 are more predisposed to develop an eating disorder. Only 15 min of exposure to beauty advertisements cause girls to perceive that beauty is even more important to their popularity with boys.

25 Real or Not? Real Not

26 Factoids Adolescents Trying to Lose Weight 32.7% Asian-American
31.9% African-American 36.1% Hispanic/Latino-Americans 34.9% White-Americans As you can see, eating disorders do NOT discriminate!

27 Ethnicity and Eating Disorders: A Multicultural Approach
Factors considered: Socioeconomic Levels Cultural Beliefs (vs. culture change) Oppression Immigration So, how are adolescents affected by these images of slim white models, especially those adolescents outside the mainstream, non-white, and how does that affect their eating habits? Obviously we must look at more than just race. But most of the information I found was organized as such, so that’s how I’m going to present it, acknowledging that this self-containment of ethnic groups is NOT the best best approach. We saw this in a previous reading about the Lesbians in ABQ, there were subcultures within subcultures. Lesbians had social subcultures (bar, closet, activist), there were ethnic subcultures (Hispanic, White), there were socioeconomic subcultures, (low income, upper-class), etc. So, the slides are ‘ethnic-centric’ but I’m going to address other factors as well: socioeconomic class, and cultural beliefs and traditions. With respect to cultural beliefs, I’d like to quote from, Culture and Eating Disorders: A Historical and Cross-Cultural Review, “ Cultural beliefs and attitudes have been identified as significant contributing factors in the development of eating disorders. Historical and cross-cultural experiences suggest that cultural change itself may be associated with increased vulnerability to eating disorders”. Other factors are oppression (to include racism & inequalities AND oppression within cultural beliefs) and immigration. Those who have been in the U.S. a short period of time must deal with new sociopolitical systems, a new language, loss of traditional family support, etc. As for ethnic groups, we chose to concentrate on 5: White, Black, Asian, Latino/Hispanic, and Native Indian. I will not address each of the factors above for each and every ethnic group.

28 White Adolescents and Eating Disorders
Historically upper-class, suburban, ‘whites only’ diseases Depression brought on by low self-esteem directly linked to binge eating White teens relate to “whiteness” culture more than ‘girls of color’ More opportunities in the workplace creates more pressure Because eating disorders were considered only an upper-class White disease most of the studies and work on eating disorders has been done with Whites. That means more Whites seek help and treatment, not so for women of color. For Whites, depression and low self-esteem are directly linked to binge eating. Control issues are directly related to eating disorders. If I can’t control other external things, at least I can control my body. Researchers found that feelings of ‘loss of control’ crossed socioeconomic levels for Whites. White adolescents can relate more with media’s portrayal of “perfection” because the majority of ‘perfect’ women in the mass media are White. Racism is usually not a factor for these girls. As more opportunities open up for White teens, upward mobility in the work place, there is more pressure to be competitive, to be successful. As depicted in mass media, that means thin and white and sexy.

29 Black Adolescents and Eating Disorders
Socioeconomic level can determine type of eating disorder Acculturation to mainstream culture increases risk Struggle with self-identity & self-esteem Increasing trend of Black boys dating white girls Limited studies exist for Black teens and eating disorders Unrealistic ‘media’ models (Halle Berry, Naomi Campbell) Black adolescents suffering from anorexia were found to come from a significantly higher socioeconomic level than Black adolescents that did not have an eating disorder. Those suffering from bulimia, though, fit into the low socioeconomic group. Define acculturation as the “process of change from the culture of origins, values and beliefs toward the integration of the host culture’s values and beliefs. Further it is the adaptive process of the cultural adjustment and adoption of new culture as a result of interaction between the two cultures.” Research suggests that disordered eating for Black adolescents was related to assimilation, or acculturation, to the White culture. Ironic as we interact and “blend”, we are losing our distinctiveness and possibly our self-identity. Traditionally, African-American culture has a greater acceptance of larger body proportions. But this protection weakens as they take on the values of the mainstream culture, a culture that does not accept who they really are or value their individualism. As I mentioned on the last slide, eating disorders are usually looked at as “whites only”, therefore there has been limited study and research on Black adolescent eating disorders. Therefore, when a Black female is seen by a doctor, this diagnosis often overlooked. With barriers coming down, there is an increased frequency of Black males dating white females. Psychologists suggest Black girls are trying harder to impress Black males because of this perceived preference to whiteness. It has been suggested that since Black girls are further removed from the Whiteness body, that it is especially difficult on them to fit this image. Black girls increasingly say they are tired of being devalued by Black boys. If you watch some of the music videos on TV, you’ll see how Black women, in particular, are negatively portrayed. Even on TV shows about Black families, the females are devalued. Reading from book page 141. There has been an increase in visibility of Black women in the media, but most fit the more traditional ‘whiteness’ scale. For example, Halle Berry and Naomi Campbell.

30 Asian Adolescents and Eating Disorders
Patriarchal culture attributes to loss of control Family harmony is often at the expense of women Traditional family support deeply ingrained Emotional control considered a mature trait Expectations to be petite and small By Asian do I mean Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese? In Chapter 12 of Freedom’s Plow, Perry and Fraser say that too frequently we group diverse individuals together and view it as an Asian Culture. And I quote “Cultural background surely plays a part in shaping identity; but it does not determine identity. (pg 191) So, some of this will apply to Korean, some to Japanese… Unequal status of males vs females- Much more patriarchal culture – the man rules. Zaha will talk much more about this a little later. If women feel that they can’t control external issues around them they can choose to control their bodies. Conflict between individual needs and family needs. Family goals are usually given priority over females. Harmony is often at the expense of women. Interdependence of family support deeply ingrained. So when an Asian family resettles (migrates to the US), they may leave behind their extended family, which can cause great stress. Asian women tend to take on the responsibility if there is a problem within the family. Emotional control is considered a mature trait in ‘Asian’ cultures. Research shows that females seldom express their true feelings and emotions, especially NOT outside the family, which can bring shame to her family. Asian adolescents ranked higher in body dissatisfaction than whites. They are expected to be perfect, petite and small. Notice I did not mention low self-esteem. I thought this would be across ethnic lines but according to the findings, “The Asian woman’s self-blame should be considered in the context of her cultural socialization rather than a manifestation of low self-esteem”.

31 Hispanic/Latino Adolescents and Eating Disorders
Clash of cultures may precipitate the development of an eating disorder. Strive to mirror unrealistic ‘media’ models (J Lo, Penelope Cruz Depression caused by low self-esteem directly related to bulimia Increase in family and peer pressure to be thin Believe that large women not taken as serious in workplace. A clash of culture may precipitate the development of an eating disorder. This could be due to immigration, moving from an ethnic community to a non-ethnic or clashing of culture with respect to generations. As with Black teens, it was thought Hispanics/Latino adolescents were immune to eating disorders because they had better body image and different cultural expectation than whites. But with the high visibility of Hispanic celebrities like Penelope Cruz and J Lo, their cultural expectations are changing. Binge eating, bulimia, more prevalent, much attributed to depression caused by low self-esteem. According to a 10 year study, frequent binge eating in the 7th grade was highest among Hispanic girls. Findings also suggest that while older Hispanic women tend to be overweight, they put pressure on their girls to be thin, in order to be successful. Stating that large women are not taken as serious in the work place.

32 Native Indian Adolescents and Eating Disorders
Acculturation to mainstream culture is possible reason for increase of disease Teens who move from reservations are more susceptible High prevalence of obesity caused by unrealistic expectations Not many bullets on the slide. Research for Native American adolescents is very limited. But it appears that a possible reason for their increased risk to eating disorders is again, the acculturation to mainstream culture, adoption of western values. It has been reported that American Navajo girls who are no longer living on the reservation report a higher rate of abnormal eating behaviors as compared to those girls who live within the confines of their own ethnic communities. It is suggest that these girls have more exposure to western ideals which can act as a trigger to precipitate eating disorders. American Indians tend to have a higher risk factor for obesity than other ethnic groups.

33 A Theoretical Background in Media & Culture
The concept of ideology reproduces relations of the domination of media The hegemony theory emphasizes a wide array of cultural institution’s function within social reproduction in the entertainment media. The critical theory suggest we study mass media in relation to the dominant social structure. The concept of ideology. It forces readers to perceive that all cultural texts have distinct biases, interests, and embedded values, reproducing the point of view of their producers and often the values of the dominant culture. Feminists, multiculturalists, and members of a wide range of subordinate groups detected that ideologies also reproduced relations of the domination in the arenas of gender, race, ethnicity, and other further domains of everyday life (media). The hegemony theory. It calls for historically specific socio-cultural analysis of particular contexts and forces, requiring dissection of how culture and a variety of social institutions from the media to the university facilitate broader social and political ends. Analyses of hegemony emphasize that a wide array of cultural institutions function within social reproduction including the church, schools, traditional, and the entertainment media. The critical theory. It suggests to properly understand any specific form of media or culture, one must understand how it is produced and disturbed in a given society and how it is situated in relation to the dominant social structure. The media culture simply reproduced the existing society and manipulated mass audiences into obedience.

34 A Theoretical Background in Media & Culture
Patriarchal Culture: Men form the dominant social group. Gender arrangement with respect to media Social representation of the female body Patriarchy is the gender arrangement in which men form the dominant social group. Here I intend to expand the term to use media since it has an effective dominant role in the society. The authors in Changing Multiculturalism highlighted on the media role in women’s life, “If your life does not fit the middle class, or even better, image that appear on TV, something is wrong” (Kincheloe and Steinberg p. 140) Based on the previous concept, I intend to discuss the social representation of the female body in patriarchal culture under feminists’ theories that clarify how can women images reflect and reproduce male and media control over female body.

35 A Theoretical Background in Media & Culture
Feminist Theories Humanist Feminists’ focus on the role the body plays as part of feminine nature Structuralist Feminists’ focus on how the body reflects the creation of her desires and attitudes towards herself The humanist feminists’ theory focus on the role that the body plays in the lives of women as part of the feminine nature, which they believe in restrict humanity and subjectivity. They think man takes on his definition as human being by objectifying women: he is subject through women being object to him. The human feminists here have pointed to the extreme emphasis placed on women’s appearance, particularly their bodies. The feminists have interpreted this extreme emphasis on women’s bodily appearance with their broader understanding of male domination. The objectification is analyzed as part of general system of male control and possession of feminism. It is believed that social representations of women both reflect and reproduce a passive femininity which waits on male activity, as Coward analyzes the ideal images of women in the media. Men are considered to control women’s body on all levels, from control of reproduction to marriage to the control over media imagery. The structuralist feminists’ theory explains that woman’s concern with her body reflects the creation of her desires and attitudes towards herself as a woman within language and visual representations. These feminists have concentrated on media images and the language around women’s bodies, which have constructed ideal images to which women strive. Thus, woman’s concern with her body is not seen as false consciousness nor has her attempt to repress her ‘natural’ femininity. In this way, they have begun to present a picture of woman’s relationship to her body which does not pose nature/culture dualism or assume inherit human or feminine selves.

36 Synthesis of the Theories
Power and hegemony Objectification as a form of oppression Women as media objects Power and hegemony. The ideal of physical beauty is becoming increasingly standardized through out the world. Beside thinness, the standard is young, able-bodied, white, western and wealthy. The increasing dominance of this Euro-centric image of beauty has had a powerful impact on women throughout the world. Objectification as a form of oppression. In a culture where women’s value is determined by the attractiveness of her body, her identity becomes closely connected with how she looks. This causes the culture to view women’s bodies as objects. In being made objects, women are dehumanized: their intelligence, abilities and feelings are ignored and they are valued solely for their bodies. Objectification may leave women vulnerable to acts of sexual violence. Seeing a woman as less than human makes it easier to insult, degrade, harass and abuse her. Women who objectify themselves may do this as a form of self-punishment. Self-starving and over-exercising can be interpreted as form of self -harm. Women as media objects. The emphasis on thinness has also led to dramatic expansion of the diet industry. Today, the diet business has become a $35 billion per year industry in North America. The vast array of diet books, videos, programs and commercial establishments is overwhelming.

37 Body Myths Myth #1: Overeating Causes Overweight
Animal research suggests at least 51 causes of overweight, including genetic, metabolic and other environmental factors. Myth # 2: Dieting is Effective Clinical studies show that up to 95% of dieters regain the weight lost, usually within the first year. Myth #3: Dieting is Healthy In addition to inadequate nutrition, dieting has been implicated in the development of weakness, fatigue, binge eating, bulimia, weight gain and obesity. Myth # 4: Everyone Can Be Slim Many researchers are suggesting that the body has a "set point" or biological control for the amount fat in the body; weight is determined predominately by genetics and early nutrition.

38 What Teachers Can Do Encourage girls to take healthy, adventurous risks Create welcoming space for girls in the classroom Take sexual harassment seriously Encourage self-reliance Bring girls into classroom discussions Develop awareness of your own gender biases

39 Institute “Beyond Dieting” Programs
Target pre-adolescent girls because they are not yet as concerned about body image and weight concerns as adolescents. Target young men to shift men's attitudes about female beauty Teachers and parents also need education in order to reinforce and support the in-school curriculum Wage a campaign to get your school’s administration involved.

40 Resources
Kilpatrick, Ohannessian, Bartholomew, 1999 Body Image by Sara Grogan Health Magazine, Apr 2002 Culture and Eating Disorders: A Historial and Cross-Cultural Review, Miller and Pumariega, Psychiatry 64(2) Summer 2001 Perry, T and Fraser J (1993) Freedom’s Plow., Routledge, Chapter 12 Kincheloe,J and Steinberg,S (1997) Changing Multiculturalism, Philadelphia, Open University Press.

41 Resources Media Education Foundation, 1995
Durham M and Kellner,D (2001)Media and Cultural Studies, Massachusetts, Blackwell Publishers Inc. “A Way Outta No Way” Eating Problems Among African-American Women, Latinas and White Women by Becky Wangsgaard Thompson

42 Using the Media To Fight Media?
Real Women Have Curves We’d like to end our presentation with a short trailer from an independent film called ‘Real Women Have Curves’. (2003) This is a story of Ana, a first generation Mexican-American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman. She lives in a Latino community of East LA. The story is about her struggle between her mainstream ambitions and her cultural heritage. I think you’ll see some relevance in this clip to our presentation. PLAY VIDEO

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