Media Influence On Eating Habits

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Size four pants. My normal pairs I have always fit into. This time, I struggled to button them for the first time. Time to get healthier, I told myself, no more of this or that. My mentality entering the summer after the first year at Saint Mary’s College was something to this extent. The restriction was never the intention, but it became the backbone of my everyday eating decisions. The “freshman fifteen” felt more like the freshman fifty, crowding my mind with any and all insecure thoughts regarding body shape and figure. What caused this sudden fear and anxiety around gaining weight? Was it internal dissatisfaction with my eating habits during the year or was there an external influence that created these feelings of inadequacy? It was not …show more content…
The accomplished women of the media are not portrayed in such a light, rather, any coverage and conversation are almost always in regards to their appearance, personal life, physicality, or sexuality rather than the content they present to the public. I began to understand that my accomplishments were not as important as my looks. The seemingly personal decisions I made that summer were strongly influenced by what the media was saying about my favorite pop star, Lady Gaga. Like the messages and ideas depicted in the documentary Miss Representation, Lady Gaga was being criticized for her weight gain and “unflattering stomach.” It made me realize that even after all she has done with music and helping the LGBTQ youth, the media was concerned about her red carpet looks and “fat” stomach. This idea that I overlooked can be described as “enlightened sexism,” a term coined in Susan Douglas’ book Enlightened Sexism. She explains that “enlightened sexism takes the gains of the women’s movement as a given, and then uses them as permission to resurrect retrograde images of girls and women as sex objects… still defined by their appearance and their biological destiny” (Douglas). Even the women who are seemingly empowered by the media …show more content…
I never asked, “why do I need to fit into smaller pants rather than just buy a different pair that fit me?” The situation was framed completely different; I was too fat to fit into the pants I had always owned and that was a direct result of my carelessness and lack of accomplishment. That summer, I constantly tried to convince myself I was getting healthier to hide the fact that I was cutting out foods from my diet to change how I looked. There was no desire to eat healthier and change my lifestyle. I hid the real reason for my dietary changes because it made me feel ashamed of being a woman. In the essays “Bad Feminist,” Roxanne Gay echoes a similar feeling of confusion. She juggles with the conflicting ideals of wanting to look good, be “pretty” while also championing gender equality (“Bad Feminist”). Roxanne Gay questions herself by asking, “if I [Roxanne Gay] take issues with the unrealistic standards of beauty women are held to, I shouldn’t have a secret fondness for fashion and smooth calves, right?” (“Bad Feminist”). During that summer I was confused as to how I could be so worried about my looks and still be someone who supports women’s body positivity and acceptance. Instead of proudly claiming my insecurities about my body and recognizing the influence of media and advertisements, I hid behind it, afraid to be judged as

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