For some women, an extremely lean figure is just not in the cards. McCall Dempsey just happened to be one of these girls. She has written a blog all about her journey through life and through beating her eating disorder. From discovering and admitting to her disease- to overcoming it. Her blog is titled “Loving Imperfections” and her story is incredible.
Throughout high school, McCall was ridiculed and embarrassed because she was not considered “skinny enough” or “pretty enough” based on society’s standards. This led her to develop an eating disorder- first anorexia, and then bulimia. She kept a food diary, a workout journal, a weight journal, and an overall diary. McCall stated that this disease consumed her life and took away some of the best times of her life. Finally, she realized that she could no longer succumb to society’s pressures and checked herself into a treatment facility. She is now healthy, happy, and has one of the top health blogs according to Health Line.
McCall has several blog posts about her previous body dissatisfaction and reasons for it. Staring at unbelievably thin models in magazines and looking up to skinny, beautiful celebrities definitely had an impact on her self-loathe. In addition to her story, McCall’s blog led me to the National Eating Disorders website, which has “Stories of Hope”. These stories are personal narratives of those that are recovering from eating disorders. In several of the posts, women described themselves as “curvy” or “big boned”, which made them feel inadequate or “fat” due to what many people believed to be beautiful and skinny. The media has convinced the population that thin= beautiful. The insane and unattainable figures of men and women in the media have convinced people that they need to push these standards on to their own bodies; no matter the price. As media becomes more and more popular all over the world, disordered eating is also becoming more prevalent. Coincidence?
Several studies have been done over the years that have shown a strong correlation between body dissatisfaction and mass media exposure. Body dissatisfaction is then shown to cause eating disorders. One research study conducted was a longitudinal study on adolescent girls that had barely been introduced to television. Three years after the researchers made television become a part of the girls’ lives, it was recorded that “11.3% of the girls in the sample had confessed to vomiting with the goal of controlling their weight,” (Lopez-Guimera, Levine, Sanchez-carracedo, & Fauquet, 2010). Once television was introduced, it was also found that 74% of the girls reported feeling fat and the percentage of girls with high leveled disordered eating attitudes more than doubled from 13% to 29% (Lopez-Guimera et al). It has also been found in other research studies that girls who frequently read articles about diets and weight loss in beauty magazines are seven times more likely to practice unhealthy weight control behaviors. These same girls studied were also six times more likely to engage in “extreme unhealthy weight control behaviors (Utter 2003).
It’s no secret that the media affects culture and opinions in the public. However, should we give media the right to make us feel inadequate and unsatisfactory? Curvy is just as beautiful as skinny is; the media does not get to decide this. McCall’s story of overcoming her eating disorder and making the decision to feel beautiful again is an influential story that we should all be reflecting on and taking into consideration. Her story and the stories I read in “Stories of Hope” really affected my way of thinking about media and its influence. I will no longer give media the authority to make me feel inferior. McCall helped me to realize that beauty is something that cannot be seen, and definitely cannot be defined by the media.
Lopez-Guimera, G., Levine, M.P., Sanchez-carracedo, D., & Fauquet, J. (2010). Influence of mass media on body image and eating disordered attitudes and behaviors in females: A review of effects and processes. Media Psychology, 13(4), 387-416.
Utter J, Neumark-Sztainer D, Wall M, Story M. (2003). Reading magazine articles about dieting and associated weight control behaviours among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health. 32(1). 78–82.