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Analyze Media Messages

Whether or not you have an eating disorder, you can become more aware of the advertisements or programs that may affect vulnerable people. Talk about them with your children and perhaps join the Media Watchdog program of the National Eating Disorders Association.

Aspects of positive ads worthy of praise:

  • • Ads that display a variety of natural body shapes and sizes.
  • • Ads that attribute similar positive characteristics to heavy and thin people.
  • • Ads that incorporate images of people eating balanced meals, including desserts, to fuel one’s body as part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • • Ads that include women in situations which imply equal social power and an understanding that women are more than objects of beauty.

Aspects of negative ads worthy of protest:

  • • Ads that include an emaciated model or a model whose features have been computer-enhanced.
  • • Ads that include a large person whose attributes or character are portrayed negatively.
  • • Ads that glamorize images of people on diets, or ads that present people relying on food as a way to respond to stress, frustration, or loneliness.

Steps to critique ads and other media messages:

  • • What is the product being sold?
  • • What is the image shown?
  • • What words are being used?
  • • What is the overall message of the advertisement?