17 thoughts on “Why the Media Isn’t to Blame for Eating Disorders

  • October 20, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Really, really important post! I completely agree that while the media can exacerbate eating disorder symptoms and prompt disordered eating patterns (love that you emphasized the difference between those!) the media does not in and of itself CAUSE an eating disorder.

    • October 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

      Thanks, Katie! I think it’s easy to get the two confused (eating disorders and disordered eating), and there are already so many myths in the media about eating disorders so it’s tough for the public to know what’s truly accurate. I think you did a great job on our blog of defining disordered eating, too.

  • October 20, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I totally agree. I think it’s actually beyond anything do with with media. I honestly think it’s to do that we aren’t CONNECTED with our surroundings our food, our earth, our place. We ‘have everything’ we need..and yet we want more. We aren’t plowing fields, trimming flowers, picking apples, milking cows, baking from scratch. Instead we are sitting in front of computers, working for someone other than ourselves and buying crap food. It’s when we strip ourselves back to really what we were 100 years ago, none of what we ‘deal with’ today matters. Because it shouldn’t. It’s about being connected and this yearing to be something that we see on a billboard is about us wanting to connect..because we are soul-less in much of what we do…unless we remind ourselves that we are connected.

    So, no..I don’t blame media.

    • October 20, 2010 at 11:15 am

      @ Mish, that’s a great point. Many people have talked about spiritual hunger or spiritual emptiness (I’m going to feature a Q&A soon on it, too). I also know for me that when I’m not moving my body, I feel incredibly disconnected from it. While sitting on the computer connects me to my writing and certain parts of myself, it definitely doesn’t do much for my body. 🙂 It’s definitely important to find ways to nourish yourself, ways that are meaningful.

      I do believe that eating disorders are biological disorders but the lack of connection certainly can exacerbate things for everyone.

  • October 20, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Does this mean that binge eating and compulsive eating have not increased or are they not eating disorders?

    • October 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

      @ Wriggles, Compulsive eating isn’t considered an eating disorder according to the DSM-IV, which is what psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, etc., use to diagnose psychological illnesses (it’s known as he bible of psychiatry or psychology). However binge eating disorder (BED) is considered an eating disorder (it wasn’t years ago but now it is because so much research has been conducted). I’m not sure that BED has increased or that we’ve gotten better at diagnosing it, more people are seeking treatment and so on. But it’s a great question.

  • October 20, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Absolutely agree. Thank you for writing this. I really get frustrated when people BLAME one source. If only it were that simplistic. Great read.

    • October 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks, Kendra! It’s really thanks to the bloggers whose words I featured. They’re making a huge difference with their writing, and I’m just passing the info along. 🙂

  • October 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Well there was a very interesting negative response on someones FB page about this. I was shocked. I copied the response. May want to write on it. Basically saying genetics has never been proved to be a cause of things, and that most studies are funded by pharm companies (which may be true, however I think the person misunderstands the difference between risk factors, contributing factors, correlations in studies. Bugs me when people automatically read something and say it is saying a one sided “cause” for something. blah.

    • October 20, 2010 at 5:01 pm

      @ Kendra, that would also bug me! Tons of research is funded by pharma, but that doesn’t make it untrue. I’m not really sure I understand what the person means. I think it’d be great for you to write about this, if you’re up to it, although I’d be curious to know what the person thinks does cause eating disorders and why genetics isn’t one of them. She might’ve been trying to be controversial or may not even be familiar with the research. Blah is right!

  • October 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    It is a HE……I will email you the response 🙂 It was to this article he was responding to.

  • October 22, 2010 at 5:26 am

    I believe it’s not the number of people with BED that has increased, but rather the number of physicians/therapists trained to recognize and diagnose it. Up until recently, it’s been the red-headed stepchild of EDs.

  • November 1, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Margarita, if you wouldn’t mind emailing me, I’d love to ask you something. Thanks!

  • March 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Very well-written and thought-provoking post. What are your thoughts on connections, if any, between eating disorders and chemical addictions? In my experience, there are a lot of similarities in the thinking that goes with eating disorders and the thinking that goes with alcoholism and other chemical addictions.

    • March 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      @ Jennifer, thank you! I’m not familiar with the current research on eating disorders and substance abuse. I do know that bulimia, for instance, has a high comorbidity with substance abuse (meaning they co-occur often in the same person). I think that impulsivity may be implicated in both, and it’s possible that the genes that predispose a person to an eating disorder may predispose them to substance abuse as well. But again, I’m just not sure. If anyone is familiar with the research and wants to chime in, please do!

  • January 8, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve always felt that my anorexia came from the inside, not from the outside – that it was a result of the way I was wired (my somewhat odd personality traits that have been with me since childhood), the absurd obsessive needs that I also had since I was a child (regarding such things as control, organization, cleanliness, structure, planning), my insane fear of failure and my desire to avoid adulthood at all cost. Wanting to lose weight was more a desire to “fix myself”, anyway possible, than to look a certain way. I was always thinking about things I needed to change about myself – my body was only one of them, and became the one thing that I took on that was visible to others. I never wanted to look “beautiful”, I wanted to become thinner, but I was not interested in whether or not thin meant pretty. I just wanted to be thinner. Weigh less. My body-hate was only one of the things I hated about myself. I wanted it to be less on my mind.


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