Negative Effects of the Film Industry on the Youth

Categories: Film

As reports of eating disorders and health concerns have risen, professionals have tried to find the reason behind the increase. Many of these disorders stem from body image issues and low self-esteem. The general consensus agrees with the idea that humans compare themselves to others, and ideals that they look up to are often found in the film industry. The film industry negatively affects the youth’s mental and physical health by promoting unrealistic body standards.

Eating disorders are rampant amongst the youth.

Over 2 million adolescents (aged 13-18) suffer from a common eating disorder, and 95% of all affected from eating disorders are aged between 12 and 25. (Adolescent). Common eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and ARFID, are popular among the youth and tend to stem from low self-esteem issues and the irrational fear of calories. Studies estimate that 1 in 10 young girl suffers from an eating disorder. (AACAP). In fact, upto 80% of 10 year old girls in the United States have already been on diets.

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(Gross). Although girls and young women are disproportionately affected, young boys too succumb to these disorders, and research suggests that 20-25% of children affected are boys. (Eating).

In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in these disorders. Experts have worked relentlessly to find the cause for this increase, and many have made the connection between the youth’s increased exposure to the world and the increase in eating disorders. Teens often feel embarrassed by the rapid changes in their body, and now they find themselves competing not only with their friends and peers, but also with the ideals they see in the media.

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In fact, the constant presence of celebrities, through advertisements, movies, social media, etc, has made it impossible for adolescents to avoid being influenced by them.

Furthermore, these images are almost always heavily edited and airbrushed, creating an impossible standard to compete against. (Gross). This comparison isn’t even always competitive. In fact, mostly it stems from admiration for someone and manifests as an ideal, or a goal to achieve. However, many forget that these images and this view of their idols is heavily altered, “(their) bodies are airbrushed and preteens are used in adult advertisements without the 'burden' of body fat or wrinkles.” (Gross). Promoted body types usually have flawless skin, and thin bodies, which aren’t an accurate representation of the masses. The wrongful portrayal of these bodies as the norm, alienates kids and forces them to work harder to achieve the “goals”.

The prevalence of this influence is spread throughout a child’s life. It can be found in casual fat-shaming amongst friends and family, or in the glaring lack of happy, fat leads in the media. “When overweight people are shown at all, they are presented as comic relief and often ridiculed.” (Vitelli). According to Robinson T, et al. “one in four overweight characters was portrayed as being unpopular or as having no friends.” (Media). Kids tend to internalize these ideas and develop various habits to reach their goals. These habits may range from little things, like skipping a few meals a week, and checking their calorie intake, to bigger, much more serious issues, like outright starving themselves, purging and vomiting, and trying harmful diets. These behaviors not only affect one’s mental health, but can also cause physical injuries and death. (Gross).

While many celebrities and corporations chose to ignore their contribution to the epidemic, some famous names have started coming out in support. Recently, actress Jameela Jamil has spoken out against Hollywood’s damaging policies. The Good Place actor stands vehemently against airbrushing, refusing to let her images be doctored. “I think it’s a disgusting tool that has been weaponized, predominantly against women, and is responsible for so many more problems than we realise...” (Barr). Jamil hopes to create awareness by talking about her own struggles with eating disorders as a teen, and has started a body positivity campaign called iWeigh, to help with self-esteem issues and acceptance. (Barr). However, Jameela is not the first celebrity to speak out. Other celebrities have publicly condemned the use of photoshop and other airbrushing tools. Celebrities like Zendaya and Lady Gaga have voiced their opinions during interviews and on their social medias, standing in solidarity with those affected. (Dockterman).

Experts continue to believe that the film industry closely affects the youth, and their perception of themselves and others. This power that the industry has over the youth has been used carelessly and has fostered a climate of toxicity and unrealistic ideals that kids are exposed to. Many studies have connected these harmful ideals with eating disorders and self-esteem issues. The promotion of these impractical standards helps sustain an atmosphere of low self-esteem, psychological problems, and health concerns for these children.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Negative Effects of the Film Industry on the Youth. (2021, Dec 15). Retrieved from

Negative Effects of the Film Industry on the Youth essay
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