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Media Images, Body Dissatisfaction, and Disordered Eating in Adolescent Women

Andrist, Linda C. PhD, RNC, WHNP

MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing: March/April 2003 - Volume 28 - Issue 2 - pp 119-123
Special focus on adolescent health

This article examines the literature related to the media, body image, and diet/weight issues in children and young women. The media holds an awesome power to influence young women, bombarding them with images of abnormally thin models who seem to represent the ideal. When the majority of adolescents inevitably fail to achieve the extremely thin image they crave, body dissatisfaction results, and disordered eating can begin. Emerging research in the pediatric and adolescent literature demonstrates that children as young as 5 are already anxious about their bodies, and want to be thinner. This obsessive interest in body weight is only fueled by a dramatic increase in the number of Internet Web sites devoted to disordered eating. Unfortunately many of the Web sites are “pro-ana” (pro anorexia) and “pro-mia” (pro bulimia); these Web sites encourage young people at risk to begin starving themselves, or to begin binge-purging. As nurses know, each of these scenarios can lead to serious illness, and sometimes to death.

Linda C. Andrist is an Associate Professor and Coordinator, Adult/Women’s Health NP Specialty, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Graduate Program in Nursing, Boston, MA. She can be reached c/o MGH Institute of Health Professions, Graduate Program in Nursing, 36 1st Avenue, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA 02129 (e-mail: landrist@mghihp.edu).

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.