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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.

Jennifer Love Hewitt Loved By the Media Again

Us Weekly 09-2008 Cover B

Previously punished, ridiculed and mocked for her weight, Jennifer Love Hewitt is now praised for her weight loss. Whether you think Hewitt is a hypocrite for talking about body acceptance months earlier, and now appearing in US Weekly to talk losing weight, her actions underscore the pressure to attain the thin ideal (and maintain it).

Jennifer Love Hewitt Photo

In Other Headlines

· Star Magazine speculates on how Angelina Jolie bounced back into shape after giving birth to twins. Their hypothesis for “her glamorous new look”? The star opted for a tummy tuck.

· After blogs began writing about Cheryl Burke’s weight gain, the Dancing with the Stars professional dancer was forced to issue a statement (with wise words for women everywhere).

“I want kids or women out there to realize you don’t have to be anorexic to be beautiful,” the two-time Dancing champ tells PEOPLE exclusively. “There’s a lot of pressure living this Hollywood life. People expect to see you at a certain weight and when you gain a few pounds then all of a sudden it’s the talk of the week.”

Burke, 24, says she is secure with her looks–and she advises fans to be true to themselves.

“People will always have an opinion about you, whether it’s good or it’s bad,” she says. “But most important is to have a secure feeling about yourself and know that you’re beautiful regardless of what people think of you.”

· The media has focused its spotlight on Jessica Simpson’s weight gain. According to OK! Magazine, she’s fine with it. But, the important question is: Is OK! okay with it?

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 November 27, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/introducing-minding-the-media/
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 Central.com. All rights reserved.