nervosa and Anorexia nervosa are silent afflictions that two out of every one
hundred American teenagers struggle with ( kids health ). Nervosa can be unhealthy and even life
threatening. These kinds of metal afflictions have become more and more drastic
as the modern age progresses. Media use has also increased, and social
scientists have done many interesting studies on how media can play a role in these
mental disorders. One such study is the Fuji Island Study.
The Fuji Island Study was
a study conducted in 1995 on secondary aged girls on the island of Fuji. The
island had a rare opportunity to see the impact of television on an untarnished
population of people. Before the study was done, the girls in the study said
that they were confidant in their body appearance. Three years after their
exposure to American television, as many as 74% of girls reported feeling “too
big”, 62% were dieting, 15% were purging. If television can cause a
disgustingly huge statistic like the one above, how are the unrealistic images
in fashion magazines such as Vouge contributing to these mental illnesses?
Social Comparison Theory predicts
or subconsciously, we constantly judge ourselves against others. People, especially young women have a need to
evaluate themselves against others to see
how they measure up, to make sure they fit in. This theory also brings up the
idea of Identification. Identification is a way people measure to see if they
will compare themselves to others. People are more likely to identify with those
that we see as having similarities with them. Identification in younger people
is most common because they are more likely to identify with a larger group of
people than older adults. Social comparison theory also splits into the two
categories of upward comparison and downward comparison.
Upward comparison is very
common among many people in society. Upward comparison occurs when people
compare themselves to people they interpret as being better than them in some
way. It is very common for young people to look up to older adults, rock stars,
actors, positions, etc. as role models. When they compare themselves to these
role models, they commonly feel that they dissatisfied with themselves and can
suffer from a lowered self-esteem. This lower self-esteem can lead to them
becoming more motivated in trying to change their problem area. Downward
comparison is the opposite of upward comparison. People view others that they
feel are lesser than them in some way and gain self- esteem but, they are less
likely to work on improving the area of comparison on themselves. A side effect of upward comparison could be
body image, the thin ideal, and objectification.
image is the concept of one’s own
physical appearance based on self-observation and the reactions of others.
Women look towards the media to help them determine if their body is desirable
and attractive. The thin ideal is the unrealistic views that thin women are the
most attractive and have the most desirable body type. The thin ideal can lead
to objectification, or people placing value on body parts more than a person in
a sexual way. These outcomes can cause women to feel bad about their bodies and
become more likely to purge or take part in other unhealthy activities in order
to feel better about themselves. The portrayals of women in magazines like
Vouge show an unrealistic view of the “desirable” or “perfect” body, but for
many people, such a body type is not just unobtainable, but dangerous.