Monday, September 06, 2010


So last night I found myself watching a documentary on anorexia and eating disorders.

Within the first fifteen minutes, I was subjected to a man-hating psychologist who put the blame for anorexia squarely at the feet of 'the media' and, of course, men for forcing women to live up to their 'unreasonable expectations'. Apparently, Anorexia and Bulimia is far more rare among men because 'men aren't subjected to the same pressure to look good as women'.

I have to call shenanigans here.

First of all, everyone is 'subjected to the media' and is 'under pressure to look good', but only a tiny minority have some kind of eating disorder. The media, like in so many things, is just a convenient scapegoat.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, there are roughly 10 million women and 1 million men with eating disorders in the US. Given that there are roughly 307 million people in the US, that means only around 3%, or one in 30 million, have some form of eating disorder...with the percentage of people with full-blown Anorexia and Bulimia much lower.

Now, let me ask you a question: Say you were doing market research on a new brand of cola. If you tested thousands of people, and 97% of them said they loved the new soda, and 3% said it gave them diarrhea , how would you describe that study? Would you say the new Cola was an outstanding success? Or would you say that the new cola was a failure and gave people the shits?

The first, right? That 3% is an anomaly. Given that 97% of your test subjects had no problems, it would be safe to assume that something else caused their 'diarrhea', or scaling up, that one in 30 million people have a bad reaction.

Before I do my usual and start laboring my point, if 'The Media' was a realistic cause for eating disorders, it would affect a lot more than 1 in 30 million people. People with eating disorders, just by having an eating disorder are statistical outliers.

Secondly, I honestly resent the idea that men aren't under the same pressure to look good as women. You can point to the media and all the photoshopped supermodels and the unrealistic 'ideal' they represent...but men are subjected to exactly the same thing.

Case in point:

As you can obviously see, all these male models/actors are perfectly average and have perfectly 'normal' bodies and looks that you see every day in the street.

There is no such thing as an ugly, fat male model, just like there's no such thing as a fat and ugly Victoria's Secret model. If we're using 'The Media' as the cause of eating disorders, men are subjected to representations of an unattainable 'ideal' and photoshopped guys that, at best, have bodies that would require the same amount of time in the gym as a full time job.

1 comment:

Woman atop her Soapbox said...

And that male media makes women have unrealistic expectations of the men in their life.

Vicious circle.

I had eating issues because my mother continually called us fat, nothing that the media did.