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The Globalization Of Eating Disorders


There is a common trend among people which is driven by health and medical factors aimed at possessing the perfect body image. This category of people is obsessed with how their faces, their arms, their breasts, and their stomachs look. Who decides what a defect is and what is being normal or beautiful? What makes girls or even young guys struggle to gain and maintain a slim body? The perfect body size and weight is considered as the slim individual who does not have excess fats in their body. What is the main cause of eating and body image disorders? In her essay “The Globalization of Eating Disorders,” Susan Bordo points out that the media is the culprit, and she is accurate in her assessment of blaming the media and eating disorders.


Summary of the essay

Initially the weight problem was among the whites in North America who had been brought up with the media focusing mainly on slim celebrities. These young girls and guys were made to believe that for them to look as good as role models they had to avoid food at all costs. Slowly the same tradition spread to the African-Americans who were originally comfortable in their huge bodies to change their line of thought. This was the starting point of development of eating disorders among the blacks (Bordo, 2008). The trend then moved to Africa where initially voluptuous women were not bothered by their body sizes and they no longer considered themselves beautiful or rather the world failed to recognize them hence they had to adopt the western sliming ways. 

The most recent victim of the perfect image tsunami was the isolated Fiji islands that had been left behind because there was no television to showcase the recommended body size of the west. The spread of eating disorders in Africa was blamed on the South African television M-Net where only the slim beauty pageants won titles. Therefore, in the two diverse corners of the world, the images portrayed by the television were blamed on the disorder (Bordo, 2008).The world of today demonstrates the perfect body size in a candid way than how parents or clergy carry out the same task. This has been mostly attributed to the culture of today that is depicted as being globalized and any new trait is adopted by all (Bordo, 2008).

 The media as a culprit

Most television shows feature extreme surgical makeover and contests among oversized people competing to lose the most weight. These surgical makeovers often engage tummy tucks where the abdominal muscles are tucked in together with liposuction on various parts of the body where excess fats are deposited. The thighs, upper arms and breast are key parts that are reshaped to get the desired weight loss. These shows present one attitude that being big is no longer beautiful thus the slim are demonstrated as the most beautiful. Today more and more children and youth spend their leisure time watching television rather than engaging in sporty activities. Hence chances of these television addicts to develop a biased approach on the perfect body image is most probably higher due to the continuous surgical makeover shows, as well as, the many slim “beauties” that are showcased in the course of every program (Klein, 2007).

 Today’s body image is set by Hollywood  thus another reason for the media being a culprit due to the numerous movies that are shot in Hollywood with the leading actors and actresses being slim. These movies present a perfect body image in today’s world in order to succeed as a slim-bodied star.  All the movies and video clips of various songs are full of slim men and women who are regarded as perfect according to the Hollywood cultures standards. The movies and clips are similarly readily available online such that more people around the world are able to gain easy access to them. Therefore, the myth about Hollywood spreads faster and wide (Bordo, 2008).

 Another reason why the media is a culprit for the eating disorders includes the fashion shows and magazines which promote potentially perfect slim body images. Actually there is a set of measurements that is put up for the models and those whose dimensions are bigger than the standard are not selected for the modeling positions. The measurements are aimed at only presenting slim ladies who are thought to be equally beautiful to grace fashion magazine covers and model during catwalks. This results in size discrimination with the heavy bodied being denied chances of being part of the catwalk or fashion industry. The same fashion magazines will carry adverts on the best diet to attain the “happy desired look” without giving the users of the diets elaborate details of the diet and most consumers end up starving themselves (Klein, 2007).

 Dangerous effects

The media is not only a culprit in causing eating disorders among individuals but it also results in diverse health effects and even death among the victims. There are a number of dangerous effects of eating disorder among individuals that are extended to mental and behavioral traits that are harmful to their health.  In mental behavior the overweight individual will tend to hate themselves as being ugly and less beautiful especially after seeing the reception of their slim counterparts in the media hence they end up developing a low self-esteem. When the low self-esteem creeps in, the individual will tend to avoid peers and friends often keeping to themselves even in social places.

 The withdrawal behavior is brought about by lack of confidence on their looks after consistent media display of the perfect figure among the slender-bodied hence they get paranoid that their presence will not be recognized by their friends. This makes them withdraw even further when they realize that most of their friends have managed to maintain slim bodies hence the morale is lowered deeper. Withdraw is often accompanied by minimal participation in family and social functions where the victim prefers to watch television (Franko, Becker, Thomas and Herzog, 2007).

 There are quite a number of serious physical health problems which accompany eating disorders that are as a result of the media portraying the most beautiful people as being slender. The most common health problem is anemia due to poor eating habits as most diets or meals for the victims are never balanced. Similarly, the individual suffers from endless constipation and dehydration after the series of vomiting bouts. The high levels of psychological trauma and ever empty stomach is a probable cause of peptic or gastrointestinal ulcers. The unbalanced electrolyte balanced caused by vomiting and lack of proper diets is a major cause of cardiac arrest and unregulated fluctuations of the body weight. Infertility is common among victims of child-bearing age while death cannot be ruled out due to malnourishment (Palmer, 2004).


We were all created in the image and likeness of God such that everyone is beautiful in their own special way, therefore, it would not make much sense to compare our unique body sizes with that of our slim peers. This is where the patients with eating disorders have to consult a psychotherapist who will administer cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy results in self-appreciation, as well as, reduced negative thoughts regarding huge body sizes (Lock and Grange, 2005).As we strive to achieve the slender body, regular physical exercises and adoption of balanced diets with low calorie foods will be a major boost to our mission. This should be carried out in line with educating the patients that not all foods are unhealthy for instance green vegetables and water suppresses hunger feelings hence the patient will only eat whenever they want.

Such an activity reduces the illusion of a perfect body and encourages acceptance of ones self the way they are. Accepting yourself for who you are the way you are starts on the inside and works its way out. You can change your thinking. And since you move toward what you think about, your life can change when you control your thoughts (Lock, 2005).Lastly the eating disorders such as bulimia are attributed to addictive behaviors similar to the addiction to alcohol and cocaine. Hence medical treatment involves use of topiramate which is used to block cravings and insatiable appetites for alcohol and food. This drug inhibits the hunger pangs hence the chances of having to vomit or refuse to eat are reduced (Suzuki Takeda and Matsushita, 1995).


In conclusion the global eating disorders are mostly caused by media exposure to the affected individual on the perfect body size. Similarly, increased glorification of the slender body size has led to severe damage on the physiological and physical health of the affected individual with some of them succumbing to death. However, the problem can be managed hence reducing the number of deaths through use of drugs and alternative sliming methods.


Bordo, Susan. “The Globalization of Eating Disorder.” Retrieved on November 25, 2010 from:           eating-disorders/ 2008

Franko DL, Becker AE, Thomas JJ, Herzog DB. "Cross-ethnic differences in eating          disorder symptoms and related distress". The International Journal of Eating            Disorders vol. 40 (2): 156–64. doi:10.1002/eat.20341 2007

Klein, Calvin. The Media: Exploring the role society and the media play in the       development of an Eating Disorder and the Media Influence on Eating Disorders.        Retrieved on November 25, 2010 from: http://www.something-  2007

Lock J and le Grange, G. "Family-based treatment of eating disorders". The International Journal of Eating Disorders 37 Suppl: S64–7; discussion S87–9.          doi:10.1002/eat.20122. 2005 

Palmer R. "Bulimia nervosa: 25 years on". The British Journal of Psychiatry : the    Journal of Mental Science vol. 185: 447–8. doi:10.1192/bjp.185.6.447, 2004

Suzuki K, Takeda A, Matsushita S. "Co-prevalence of bulimia with alcohol abuse and       smoking among Japanese male and female high school students". Addiction vol.          90 (7): 971–5. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.1995.tb03506.x 1995. 

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