Monday, 18 October 2010

The Mail and body image

In the Daily Mail today:

The article, by Dr Aric Sigman, says:

There has been an 80 per cent rise in young girls being hospitalised with ­anorexia in the past ten years. And body dissatisfaction is affecting younger and younger children.

In a recent study published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, almost half of the three to six-year-old girls surveyed said they worried about being fat.

Yet any serious correlation between visual media and the rise of eating disorders has largely been dismissed. Until now, so-called ‘body politics’ has been a cultural and psychological debate, owned by feminists and eating-disorder therapists. They dismissed blaming the visual media as too simplistic.

However, new research shows there is a much stronger link between visual media and eating disorders. Repeated exposure to images of thin women alters brain function and increases our propensity to develop eating disorders.

He concludes:

Fortunately, more and more scientists and prominent medical bodies are beginning to view the media as playing a major role in eating disorders. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recently issued a statement saying the media propagates ‘unobtainable body ideals’ and that airbrushed images should carry a kite mark.

Whether you believe the argument or not, the fact is the Mail has been happy to publish an article that links media images and eating disorders.

Meanwhile the Mail website has run a 'story' today about 'super-slim' Whitney Port eating an apple (yes, really) in which Daily Mail Reporter writes:

But Whitney could certainly afford to pile up her plate somewhat as her black and grey halternecked bikini showed off her jutting hip bones, and pin-thin legs.

The Mail handily provide nine photos of Port in her bikini so their readers can judge her body for themselves.

Elsewhere, another woman in a bikini was under the Daily Mail Reporter's microscope, this one for being too fat:

Taryn Manning looked super-relaxed as she sunbathed in a metallic purple bikini in Hawaii.

So much so, that she seemed content to let it all hang out, as the Hawaii Five-0 actress's tiny two-piece left little to the imagination...

She sat poolside sipping on a very green cocktail, and was refreshingly un self-conscious despite the fact that her tummy rolls were on display for all to see.

This comes a couple of weeks after Daily Mail Reporter was ludicrously pointing out the 'girth' and 'protruding belly' of Katy Perry.

If the Mail is truly concerned the media's role in how women and girls view themselves and their body shapes, they should start by having a word with their tacky website.


  1. This is a recurring theme in the Daily Mail. An occasional single story about the dangers of anorexia in young girls accompanied with a dozen articles of skinny/sexy celebrities.

    I found another example of this a while ago:

  2. According to Ben Goldacre you may not take everything Aric Sigman says as scientific gold:

  3. hmm, did aric sigman not hear about the beauty myth? or susie orbach? or the wealth of literature on the links between media images and anorexia? just a bit confused that he seems to think this is a new issue...

    but yeah - it is absolutely ridiculous the way the dm write about women being too fat one minute, too thin the next, and are then confused that young women have negative relationships with their bodies.


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