Body Images, Eating Disorders, and Cultural Imperialism

BodyImages, Eating Disorders, and Cultural Imperialism

Eatingdisorders originates from a wide array of factors including physical,psychological, as well as social issues. Besides, studies indicatethat media images that assist in generating cultural meaning ofattractiveness are generally recognized as being amongst the factorsthat lead to the growth of eating disorders (Wykes &amp Gunter 13).It has also been shown that American media, which include television,newspapers and magazines, does not only impact its citizens, but alsopeople in other nations across the world by exporting potentiallyunhealthy images of the human body. This is the power of culturalimperialism that has existed way before the United States of Americabecame the world’s super power (Wykes &amp Gunter 13). In thiscase, cultural imperialism aptly describes America’s role as acultural influencer all over the world. The current paper argues forthe proposition that American media is exporting potentiallyunhealthy images of the human body.

ArgumentsSupporting the Proposition

UnitedStates media have affected people in all walks of life includingAmericans themselves by exporting probable damaging images of thehuman anatomy (Wykes &amp Gunter 154). The media provides asubstantially influential setting for individuals to learn aboutimage ideals and values propagated on being beautiful and attractive.The most common forms of mass media are magazines, newspaper,television and internet. There is no single basis of disorderedeating or body dissatisfaction. However, it is increasingly apparentthat the media indeed contributes, and that publicity to and pressureaffirmed by the media increase disordered eating and bodydissatisfaction. Many experimental and correlation studies haverelated exposure the disordered eating and thin ideal among women(Wykes &amp Gunter 156). For example, an individual may starvethemselves of nutrients and vitamins just to get thin. This mayresult to anorexia which is a crucial eating disorder affecting mostwomen. Pressure to be muscular exerted by the mass media also appearsto be connected to body dissatisfaction in male individuals.

Americais arguably one of the most successful and powerful nation across theworld. Other developed countries as well as developing ones look upto the US and its culture. For instance, in Fiji, the firsttelevision was introduced in 1995. It never had access to televisionbefore then. The station broadcasted from the US, Australia and GreatBritain. There were no cases of eating disorders among young girlsbefore the introduction of the station. In 1998, 62 per cent of thegirls surveyed were reported dieting and 11 per cent were reportedvomiting to control body weight (Wykes &amp Gunter 136). Othersthought that the Fijian culture would remain unaffected bytelevision. However, it was soon found out that the media had anegative effect.

Childrenaround the world are increasingly engage in the use of media, atendency widely fuelled by the increasing accessibility of internetvia phones and other smart devices (Wykes &amp Gunter 139). Childrenhave been found to play video games more than one hour per day. Evenmedia aimed at this audience such as animated videos and cartoonstresses on the significance of being beautiful and attractive.Additionally, sexually propagated images of young women and girls inadvertisements are more likely to appear in male targeted magazines.

Byand large, cultural imperialism has potential destructive effectsspilt by America’s media to the world. From the stretch of westernideals of being attractive to degeneration of confined culturesacross the globe, cultural imperialism has a devastating effect.


Wykes,Maggie &amp Gunter, Barrie. The Media and Body Image: If LooksCould Kill. London: SAGE, 2005. Print.