Emily Fox-Kales is a professor of media psychology and of cultural studies at Northeastern University, a clinical psychologist and author of a new book that takes aim at Hollywood’s unrealistic ideals of body images and how they can affect the eating habits of our youth. In a recent article, she discusses her concerns relating to this problem and offers suggestions as to what parents and movie viewers can do. She believes that the images portrayed in the media encourage unhealthy and negative weight-control behaviors and can have serious negative consequences on self-esteem. She suggests viewers watch movies to enjoy the movie, and maintain a critical eye when watching the celebrities on the big screen.
She encourages parents to help their children learn how to do this by talking about the celebrities in the movies. Ask the children if they believe all girls are that thin. She recommends discussing the values of the characters and the intention of the movie. “The critical questions are how did you feel about yourself before you watched this movie, and how do you feel now?’’ said Fox-Kales, who is also founder and executive director of Feeding Ourselves, an Arlington-based outpatient program for people who want to change the way they eat.
Extreme weight-control behaviors can include binge eating, anorexia nervosa and other out of control patterns related to food and eating. Many of these issues develop in the teenage years. Popular culture influences many of the choices young people make, and has an especially significant impact on how young girls view their bodies and value themselves. “Movies convey certain messages that make it tempting to idealize certain kinds of bodies,’’ Fox-Kales added, “but the average woman is not 5-10, she shouldn’t weigh 110 pounds, and she doesn’t have the benefit of special lighting and camera angles.’’
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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