- NEW YORK (CNN) --
Images reflected by the media often can amount to a very unhealthy looking
glass for young women, according to a new study pblished by the Archives
of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. It found teen-age body image to be
greatly influenced by what they see on television and in movies and magazines.
- What they are most likely to see are actresses like Helen
Hunt and Calista Flockhart and super models like Kate Moss. All attractive,
well dressed and unusually thin.
- Marne Greenberg knows all about the desire to be thin.
She suffered from Bulimia as a teen-ager.
- "I think everyone wants to change their self-image,"
said Greenberg. "It doesn't matter who you are, you always want to
be that someone ... the highest of expectations of someone you can't, or
never will, be."
- Doctors have found there are many others like Greenberg.
- "One of the questions we asked them is how much
effort they were making to look like females they see in the media,"
said Dr. Alison Field of Brigham and Women's Hospital.
- "We found that to be a very strong predictor of
starting to use vomiting or laxatives to control weight."
- Bulimia is an eating disorder in which a person repeatedly
binges on food and then uses self-induced vomiting or laxatives to prevent
- "It begins with teenagers, sometimes during that
time, and then it goes on to, of course, the adult population," said
Dr. Stanley Hertz of Long Island Jewish Hospital. "It occurs in different
studies between 2 and 3 percent of the population."
- Greenberg's teen-age years were pretty rough. She was
surrounded by friends who were totally consumed with their appearance and
she did everything she could to lose weight.
- "I was hurting myself and I knew I was hurting myself
and there was no way of stopping it," she said.
- Doctors believe most young girls face an impossible task
if they want to look model-thin.
- "The average American model is 5 foot ten, and 107
pounds. The average North American woman is 5 foot four and 143 pounds.
So what we show is not what we really are," pointed out Hertz.
- "The people that knew me knew I looked emaciated
and people that didn't know me, thought I looked great," said Greenberg.
"Meanwhile, I had all these stomach problems and everything."
- Experts say the best weapon against eating disorders
is high self-esteem -- something teenagers desperately need. They also
emphasize the importance of young girls evaluating themselves in ways
other than through their weight -- and realizing the images they see in
the media are often unhealthy and unrealistic.