Self-esteem is a dynamic construct, like body image, which is influenced by a whole variety of factors such as parenting, childhood experiences, core personality and body image especially in girls. It follows thus by logical reduction that influences on body image will affect self esteem and promote the risk of developing an eating disorder as a person turns to the control of their body in order to feel acceptable. In this respect the media may contribute to low self-esteem by promoting slenderness as the pathway to gaining love, acceptance and respect while at the same time reflecting a trend in society to demonise fat.
However, we are warned to guard against the short term view of media influence on body image or eating behaviours, rather than assess the long term outcome of exposure to certain images and values, or even to assess the effect of exposure to any set of values independently of the “shifting sands” of social and technological change.
So there have been many debates about the influence of the media and social behaviour, for example sexual morality or violence. We recognise, as a result of these debates, that the interaction between message and response is complex and audience dependent. To quote the BMA report on eating disorders, body image and the media: