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Hollywood and the Culture of Eating Disorders (Essay Sample)


PSY 2306 Spring 2018

Texts: BODY SHOTS: Hollywood and the Culture of Eating Disorders
Refer to Introduction through Chapter 2 for definitions of media exposure effects, screen identification, screen idealization, and influence of celebrity culture.
EATING DISORDERS (Keel) Refer to Ch. 5 for review of media and eating disorders.
I. Select one of the popular film genres discussed in Body Shots Chapters 3-6: action blockbuster, makeover movie, comedy/“rom-com” (romantic comedy) or “teen pic.”) Apply the media literacy techniques used in these chapters to analyze a film of your choice in terms of the following:
a. What message does the film convey about the body which could affect the body image formation of the spectator? (See Media Literacy lectures).
b. How might it specifically affect the eating and exercise behavior of the spectator?
c. Given what you have learned about risk factors for eating disorders, who would be most vulnerable to the effects you note in parts a. and b. above? (key factors: body ideal, body dissatisfaction, body stigmatization and macro/micro causality factors).
Be sure to support your answer with your own observations about the film's construction:
Narrative structure (plot); casting; costumes and lighting; camerawork, soundtrack, etc.
(60 points)
II. Select a film, television show, or video which gave you an “Alternative Vision” (see Chapter 7 in Body Shots). Discuss how it succeeded in providing you with a healthier model for body image and your own eating/exercise behavior and attitudes toward body shape and size. You may also refer here to media literacy techniques and how you developed your own “oppositional” critical view of a popular media production which protected you from negative media exposure effects.
(30 points)
Remaining 10 points for clarity of organization and writing, supporting all answers with specific references to the narrative structure (plot), camerawork, setting and costumes, casting, soundtrack of films discussed, as well as comparing it to the relevant movies analyzed in the text.
Length: 5-6 pages, double-spaced






The Effects of Hollywood on Eating Disorders

Hollywood and the Society

Hollywood is a multibillion-dollar industry that employs millions of people directly and indirectly. Due to technological advancements and substantial investment, the Hollywood effect can be felt throughout the world. Through movies, television shows, and video games, Hollywood has managed to colonize the world. On top of the billions that Hollywood pumps into the economy every year and the entertainment it offers, it also has a significant influence on the society. It is a lethal weapon that slowly but surely changes the way people view certain things and situations, leads to entrenchment of various stereotypes, and may encourage anti-social behavior, materialism, and other negative values in spectators. Moreover, viewers may get into violence and substance abuse as they try to identify with and idealize the screen characters as well as to experience the celebrity culture.
At some point towards the end of his presidency, President Bill Clinton lamented that children were being fed with violent content every day. This shows the extent of the threat that the industry poses to the society. The society has come to a point where players in the Hollywood industry are seen as standards. The standard of beauty, perfection, and prosperity. The idea of health has been narrowed down to mean a certain image, figure, or number. This has adverse effects on vulnerable viewers, who might harm themselves trying to attain the standard look. This has been associated with low self-esteem and eating disorders.

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder can be described as any psychological disorder that leads to abnormal or disrupted eating habits. They may arise from an obsession with food, body shape, and weight. The most common eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, as well as binge-eating disorder. People suffering from anorexia nervosa consider themselves overweight even when they are medically underweight. It causes the victims to starve themselves. The disorder has the highest mortality rate among all mental disorders. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by cyclic episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by forced vomiting. People with the binge-eating disorder have no control over their eating. These disorders are predominantly common among the teens and young adults. They affect both genders, but women are more affected than men.

Association Between Hollywood and Eating Disorders

An increase in the incidence of eating disorders, especially among the teens and young adults has triggered research into the area. Sociologists and psychologists have associated Hollywood with various eating disorders seen in viewers. By promoting and selling the idea of a certain kind of beauty or perfect body, Hollywood prompts spectators to strive to achieve these unattainable standards. In her book, Body Shots, Fox-Kales observes that these ideas and perceptions lead to the distorted image of self among the viewers. This could trigger unhealthy weight control behaviors and eating disorders (Fox-Kales).

In the modern society, a child grows up surrounded by Hollywood in the form of television, videos, films, billboards, music, movies, magazines, internet, and other media. Research has shown that a child spends an average of 5 to 7 hours, viewing some form of media. Over the period of the last 20 years, all these forms of media have silently endorsed a muscular male body and a thin female body as the ideal body structures. They have increased the sensitivity of teens and young adults to their body size, shape, weight, and their diets. This causes dissatisfaction with one’s body, which has been shown to result in psychological and eating disorders in...

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