J500 Media and the Environment

Selling Skinny by beccan

I sat down for lunch a couple of days ago with a plate of veggies, peanut butter, and a bread stick sitting on the plate in front of me. On my left was a magazine with Kelly Osborn on the cover in a pink dress, with the caption, “How I got Thin”. I began to think to myself that I probably should not eat the breadstick, because it was filled with cheese and was far too delicious to have any nutritional value. I indulged anyway, and it was good, but it would’ve been better if my company at lunch wouldn’t have been a tabloid magazine.

Courtesy of google images

A tabloid magazine may not be the best lunch date.


That is when I started to realize that food had so much power over me. It controlled the way I lived day-to-day, it controlled my mood, and my body. I hated that it was so powerful, but I loved that it was so powerful (a true love-hate relationship). I was in awe that one picture on one magazine with one caption made me feel guilty about eating a breadstick. It sickened me that I could be so influenced my the media. 

 Confused, I decided to take a look at my complex relationship with food more carefully. I noticed that I treat food as a reward or punishment, not a way of sustaining my body. I reward myself with certain foods when I eat healthy all day and on the flip side, I make myself hit the gym for hours if I eat unhealthy one day. To be honest, as I say this right now I am eating my words. Putting my strange relationship with food into words makes it seem crazy. I guess I find it hard to find the fine line between living healthfully and having a bad relationship with food.

I wondered why these thoughts run through my head when I am and always have been healthy, according to the doctor. Why do I feel like if I do not look like the models and actresses I see on television and in magazines, then I will never be accepted by society? The media has done so much damage to how women view themselves. There are constant and persistent reminders everywhere to be skinny. Everywhere I go, there is some reminder that if I want to be accepted by society I must look a certain way.

This made me think about a commercial that a journalism teacher showed is a class i took last semester. Dove is well known for its True Beauty campaign, which is one of the only campaigns that sends the message to women that beauty lies in different sizes and shapes. But Dove’s hard to work show women that they are accepted at any size, doesn’t do too much when every other company selling something tells consumers otherwise. I watch the Dove campaign advertisements and am moved and touched, as a woman, but it really does not change the way that I think about being accepted by society.I just see Dove’s campaign as a way of trying to make Dove look good, as a public relations step. It is shown that 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance. That number is so unsettling, but I do not see it changing anytime soon, unless more companies do what Dove is doing. One company cannot make the change that it will take to change the media’s portrayal of women. 

What could the media do? Advertisers know what skinny, good looking, and tall are appealing to consumers what incentive is there to take a risk on advertising with unlikely models? Probably none. Sex appeal sells. And although Dove made a huge public relations risk, it may not have been worth it if other companies do not follow the same method. 

Becca N.

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.