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Introducing Minding the Media

Celebrities get publicly punished for three things:

  1. Putting on weight
  2. Looking anorexic
  3. Having cellulite

Celebrities get publicly praised for only two though:

  1. Looking thin
  2. Losing weight (while sharing their diet and workout secrets!)

While magazines and television play the weight (and cellulite-celebs-without-makeup) game, we too, become players. But instead of watching this with horror and disgust, we start to accept it.

The media plays an important role in how we view our physical appearance (and sometimes how we interpret our self worth). We’re so used to seeing skinny celebs, worshiping weight loss stories and being inundated with unrealistic ideal (airbrushed) images, that it’s become second nature to think all of this is normal. We being to think that it’s normal to hate your body, deny dessert (or throw salt on chocolate cake after you’ve indulged in one bite so you can’t reach for another — a tip I read years ago in a women’s magazine), view willpower as virtuous and pursue an oppressive workout regimen in the name of thin (hello health, where are you?).

In this new regular series of posts, we’ll call out various media outlets for glorifying the thin ideal, encouraging negative body image and promoting preposterous tips and tricks for rapid, vapid weight loss.

Let the games begin.

The Practice of Punishing and Praising

Britney Spears Praised for Weight Loss

OK Magazine cover 09-2008

Though she’s been previously punished in the media for losing her famous figure, Britney Spears has revealed she’s adopted a strict diet and is working out again. And the media can’t get enough of her makeover.

Her “healthy diet” ?

“I have no sugar. I don’t eat fruit or even fruit juice because of the sugar. I eat chicken and salmon and rice. I eat avocados. I’ll have egg whites for breakfast and sometimes turkey burgers for lunch.”

Since when is fruit a slippery slope to unhealthy weight gain? Is it because of those evil antioxidants? Diets are unhealthy, and here’s 10 reasons why.

90210 Stars Punished for Their Shrinking Silhouettes

Us Weekly 09-2008 Cover A

The actresses of 90210 have been branded “Too Thin for TV” by US Weekly.

Interestingly, the very magazines that promote rapid weight loss and the thin ideal and shame stars that don’t fit Hollywood’s skinny standards, also put down too-thin celebrities. It doesn’t take a keen observer to see these actresses look emaciated and if they’re skipping meals and not taking care of themselves, then it’s important for others to reach out to them.

But plastering their pictures with sensational headlines—making them the center of a too-skinny scandal doesn’t help these stars or the magazine’s readers (or everyone waiting in the checkout lines). When these girls leave the spotlight to go home, I wonder what effect these covers have on them. And the scores of regular girls who want to be so thin.

On its Web site, US Weekly also includes a link to “scary skinny stars.” There, you’ll find photos of Nicole Richie—who’s been both praised for her svelte transformation and admonished for being too thin—along with Kate Bosworth—labeled anorexic one week and naturally slim the next.

Introducing Minding the Media

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). Introducing Minding the Media. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 13 Oct 2008)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.