The Wish to be Thinner
= The number one wish for girls aged 11 to 17 is to be thinner. 40% of nine
and ten-year-old girls are on diets; girls as young as five have expressed fears
of getting fat.(10)
= As many as ten million females are struggling with an eating disorder such as
anorexia or bulimia; most anorexics and bulimics are between 11 and 25 years
Boys are not Immune
= Increasingly, boys are also dissatisfied with their bodies. The increasing
muscularity in toy action figures helps set unrealistic body ideals for
boys.(12) Much of the entertainment marketed to boys particularly professional
wrestling, features extremely muscular body types. In one study, more than half
of boys aged 11-17 choose as their physical ideal an image only possible to
obtain using steroids.(13)
Marketing is a factor in eating disorders
= Even as kids are being assailed with messages to eat junk food, they,
especially girls - are being sold the notion that they are supposed to be
= Adolescent girls' discontent about body image is directly correlated to how
often they read fashion magazines, which are filled with ads featuring
underweight models.(15) Girls with eating disorders are more susceptible to
messages about body image than girls with normal eating patterns.(16)
= Viewing television commercials leads to increased body dissatisfaction for
both male and female adolescents.(17)
= After television was introduced in Fiji, there was a significant increase in
eating disorders among adolescent girls.(18)
= 50% of advertisements in teen girl magazines and 56% of television commercials
aimed at female viewers use beauty as a product appeal.(19)
= A study of 500 female models found that almost half were malnourished
according to World Health Organization standards.(20)
= A life-size barbie doll would have a sixteen-inch waist.
10. Schreiber G.B. et al. (1996). Weight modification efforts reported by black
and white preadolescent girls. Pediatrics, 98(1): 63-70.
11. Crowther, J.H., Wolf, E.M., & Sherwood, N. (1992). Epidemiology of bulimia
nervosa. In: M. Crowther, D.L. Tennenbaum. S.E. Hobfoll, & M.A.P. Stephens
(Eds.) The etiology of bulimia nervosa: The individual and familial context.
Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Francis, pp. 1-26.
12. McLean Hospital. (1999). Body Image Disorder Linked to Toy Action Figures'
Growing Muscularity. Press Release.
13. Cloud, J. (2000). Never too buff. Time, April 24.
14. Kilbourne, J. (1999). The more you subtract the more you add. In: Deadly
Persuasion. New York: Free Press, pp. 128-154.
15. Field AE, et al. (1999). Exposure to the mass media and weight concerns
among girls. Pediatrics. 103:E36.
16. Verri, A.P. et. al. (1997). Television and eating disorders: study of
adolescent eating behavior. Minerva Pediatrica, 49(6): 235-243.
17. Hargreaves, D. & Tiggemann, M. (2002). The effect of television commercials
on mood and body dissatisfaction: The role of appearance-schema activation.
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 21, pp.465-477.
18. Becker, A.E. et al. (2002). Eating behaviors and attitudes following
prolonged exposure to television among ethnic Fijian adolescent girls. British
Journal of Psychiatry, 180, 509-514.
20. Owens, P. (2000). Weight and shape ideals. Thin is dangerously in. Journal
of Applied Social Psychology, 979-990.