This week a six month study of 550 teenagers by Cardiff University has concluded that gossip magazines are encouraging eating disorders in teens. The gossip magazines like Heat, OK, Reveal & Now, achieve this by their constant negative comments about celebrities weight and appearance. Worryingly, the study found that teens who regularly read gossip magazines were more likely to participate in extreme dieting and suffer from eating disorders.
“We are used to seeing images of extremely thin women in magazines”, Cardiff University psychologist James White, told The Times. “With the message that being thin is positive. "But", he continued, "with gossip magazines you have the reverse. You have the ridiculing of being overweight, with the message that being overweight is bad or negative. That seems to be a more powerful message for teenagers”.
I often reflect on the world that my children, particularly my daughter is growing up in and count myself lucky. Women, even those with a public profile, were allowed even expected to be a healthy weight and their bodies were not put under a microscope as they are today. Modern gossip magazines are mostly dedicated to publishing countless pages detailing every pound of weight a celebrity gains or loses.
Why do women continue to voluntarily consume media dedicated to the public praise or humiliation of female celebrities week after week. Someone who ‘looks great’ one week is ‘shockingly underweight the next’; or 'beautiful’ one week to having ‘unsightly wrinkles the next.
We are also concerned about teenagers, whose vulnerability often makes them susceptible to the underlying message that appearance is everything.
It’s about time the women, who write gossip for consumption by other women and teens, started to take their responsibility far more seriously.