J500 Media and the Environment

eat to live or live to eat? by beccan

I run my life on a rewards system, it’s strange, but it is how I function. If I tell myself that the only way I can have desert is if I run three miles that day, then I’ll run those three miles. If I tell myself that I can go out for a drink if I finish my essay, then I will finish that essay in no time.

After an interview this week I decided that I had worked hard and should be rewarded, and the prime reward: a Sonic happy hour drink. I went to Sonic for a Shirley Temple and my reasoning for consuming this oversized soda was that I did something productive and I deserved a reward. I’ve noticed that more often than not, some sort of beverage or food serves as my reward. I am starting to realize how this reward system has made my relationship with food one that is not always healthy.

Sonic Drink, courtesy of flickr.com



I think that the media has some responsibility for the way in which society sees food.  It seems that everywhere I look there is some reminder of health and the idea that we need to be skinny to be accepted. People who are overweight are looked down upon and deemed lazy. Therefore, I fear being overweight. I tell myself that I am eating healthy and exercising so I can live a long and happy life and that’s true, but in reality it’s partially because I don’t want to be deemed a fat, lazy American.

There is definitely a gender difference in the way we think about weight as well. I find that women have a difficult time with feeling pretty and accepted by society more than men. The well-known Dove True Beauty campaign was one that really brought attention to the fact that women can be beautiful even if they don’t have a model bone structure and aren’t a size 2 like most of the women we see in advertisements. It has been shown that 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance and that is due in part to the way that the media portrays women. 

Food is so complex. It is something that we form a relationship with, whether that be a healthy or unhealthy one. As Socrates said “Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat” and it’s true, but it is also easier said than done. Eating has become a part of our social life and as social beings we thrive on relationships with other people and food, too. Food and friends go hand-in-hand in the United States and that could be contributing to our obesity epidemic.

Just a little food for thought. 

Becca N.


9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Do you think that appearance a bad reason to be motivated?
–Ben P.

Comment by bpirotte

I really connected with your post. I too, often use food as a reward for doing well on an exam or a paper. My question is, with food being a big part of people’s social lives, in what ways do you think a person’s social circle influences their food choices?

Micole A.

Comment by micolea


I am wondering how you think parents should balance wanting their kids to be healthy (not obese like so many American kids right now… not have diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) and not emphasizing looks too much. -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

I think that appearance is enough reason to be motivated, but should not be the only reason. I also think that appearance is definitely the overlying reason to most health concerned consumers.

I love that you brought this up! I think that there is a direct correlation between the people you socialize with and the foods you eat. If I go to dinner with my family, I am more likely to order an appetizer and maybe even desert, but with friends, we just don’t want to sit at a restaurant that long so we won’t order the “extras”.

-Becca N

Comment by beccan

I really appreciated the Dove commercial part of your post. One of my journalism professors showed my class when it first came out, so I liked how I could relate to it.

I think you and the video make a good point about how our image of being pretty and skinny can be distorted.

I am wondering what you thought of this commercial? In my class, we talked about how this was one of the first commercials we noticed to recognize this issue. Also, since then have you noticed any other commercials or ads or anything that recognize this issue as well?

Very interesting post!
-Jackie M.

Comment by jackiemcc

I also love this video because I think this is a discussion that needs to be addressed and I love that Dove is doing it. I remember reading somewhere that there is an idea in the industry to put disclaimers on photo-shopped pictures of women in ads or magazines so that young girls realize that what they’re seeing is not attainable. But as for my question . . .

Do you think that, if a person were to get into the habit of eating healthy, that they may be able to “fix” their relationship with food and no longer treat it like a reward. Instead they would just accept it as part of their life?

K. Cochran

Comment by Kelly

I haven’t heard that, but that would be interesting to see if it would do anything to the self image of young girls. I don’t think it will stop the problem, but it’s worth a try.

Good. question- I definitely think that eating healthy would fix an unhealthy relationship with food. Personally, I eat very healthy foods on a daily basis, staying away from food I know will make me feel bad, but it is the temptation of bad foods that makes it more of a roller coaster relationship with food. I hope that answered your question.

Becca N.

Comment by beccan

Thanks for the post, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think that the commercial is moving. It really shows that the beautiful models we see in magazines are altered so much that they don’t even look like themselves in the end. It makes it seem like natural is not beautiful, which isn’t true. And I have seen other Dove commercials with this same idea, but no others yet.
Becca N.

Comment by beccan

I think that parents should really emphasize activity in their child’s life (kids love to play) and make sure the child knows that there are limits. Portion control is such a big issue in the U.S. and personally, I think that is one of our biggest problems. Americans serve and eat these huge portions that could feed two or three people.
Hope that answered your question. Thanks for the comment!
Becca N.

Comment by beccan

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