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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Media sends mixed messages

Published: August 31, 2007
Section: Opinions

Do these pants make me look fat? When most people hear this, they cant help but laugh because its used all too often. But in reality, its no laughing matter. With the increase in negative and often opposing media images, living in the American culture is more confusing than everespecially for women. They tell us to lose weightso we doonly to be told were too skinny. So we eat a little more, gain a few pounds, and there again starts the vicious cycle. It seems theres no way to win! Instead, it seems like theres an increase in the level of hypocrisy the media is practicing.

Its no secret that an overwhelming majority of media outlets reach out to us every day, trying to brainwash us. I myself have stood in front of the mirror, utterly disappointed with what I saw. Ive decided against buying certain brands of clothes because I fit into a medium or large and not that oh-so revered small I was used to. Ive told myself I wasnt good or skinny enough;

that if I only lost weight, Id feel better. But the truth is, I never needed to and it never makes you feel better. In fact, the opposite is true. Once you start, you just cant stop. But I can honestly say that I would never have done that had it not been for negative media images I had thrust upon me from all angles. Im lucky that any temporary periods of insecurity or self-disdain didnt become a full- blown eating disorder. But, like any other woman, that could have been me.

Anorexia and bulimia are becoming commonly used words rather than the taboos they once were because theyre all-too-common realities in our culture. But should sallow, sinking faces and bones protruding out of skin really be in style? People look up to celebrities they deem are relatable. Most celebrities are either a size zero or are made to appear that way with Photoshop computer software. But real women have curves, cellulite, anddare we say itsometimes even a little meat on their bones. Not everyone is genetically predisposed to look like a model, and thats okay! Itd be a little boring if we were all just clones.

It seems like all the headlines I see on the newsstand are related to weight or dieting. This celebrity has ballooned up, that one is scary skinny. Well, which one is it? What are we supposed to believe?

Lets say while watching TV, on come the Dove ads weve all seen. Love yourself, be happy with who you are- you know the drill. So you feel good about yourself for a second, but only one, because here comes the next ad: weight loss drugs, exercise machines, gym memberships- you name it, they want to sell it to you. Moment ruined!

Theres our battle: the very society encouraging hard work is also advocating the easy or dangerous way out. With the new weight-loss pill Alli hitting shelves, it seems our diet dreams are simple and harmless. Thousands of people die each year from the dangerous side effects of these magic pills. But they dont make that too clear on the commercials, do they? No, its always written in small print on the bottom of the screen or whispered rapidly at the end of the commercial. But were being up-front with our consumers, right?

We need to get our priorities straight. We are spending $40 billion a year on dieting- more than education alone! Why are we spending money on killing ourselves? Who wants to pay for osteoporosis, heart failure, and kidney failure? Because thats what can result from eating disorders- not so glamorous is it?

The American media needs to decide to either continue support emaciation, or do something to change it. And that means stopping flip-flopping between the two sides. If you want to advocate healthy body images, then dont photograph celebrities cellulite and post it on the front page for the whole world to see.

Our culture has started, slowly, to changethe Dove ads are proof of this. But we need to do more. 1,000 women die every year from anorexia in America alone! [Source?] 1,000 lives unfairly taken, all in the name of maintaining a nonexistent beauty ideal. But can the number on the scale or your size zero jeans really give you fulfillment and self-worth?

We can all do something to help curb the number of people who develop eating disorders. In the amount of time you take to log into your e-mail, you could go to and sign the No Weigh Declaration of Independence to affirm your support for individual acceptance of our bodies. Its such a small step, but if we all do it, we could stand together in solidarity against this horrible disease. So instead of focusing on the dreaded Freshman 15, lets just try staying healthy.

I dont know about you, but next time the Trimspa commercial comes on, Im turning the channel. Id much rather enjoy my bowl of cookie dough ice cream in peace!