The impact of the Media on Teen Girls Body Image
“Cosmetic makers have always sold (hope in a jar)- creams and potions that promise youth, beauty, sex appeal, and even love for the women who use them” (Postrel 125). Magazines are filled with digitally transformed images of models with amazing bodies, flawless skin and perfectly styled hair. Television advertisers push their products using the most attractive people with the perfect bodies. Television shows such as October Road and movies like Men or Shoes portray images of sexy, gorgeous woman who have it all; the handsome boyfriend or husband, the great job and amazing friends, while the chubby, not so attractive friend is usually there simply for comic relief. Also shows like the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency on the Oxygen Network, is another perfect example of media influencing teen girls negatively. On this particular show she holds auditions for aspiring models to come before her and audition in order to gain representation by her Modeling Agency. Instead about 97% of these young girls are harassed and ridiculed on National TV. On this show there is no such thing as constructive criticism or putting it nicely. She points out every flaw, every physical feature that she feels needs to be fixed with plastic surgery or dieting. She even has gone so far as to saying “I will never accept a plus size model into this agency” (Rotchford 72). She has been known to call girls ugly and send many on occasion crying and running for the door. “Her show is rated number 1 on the Oxygen Network” (Rotchford 72). This kind of message is sending young girls the impression that in order to be beautiful like a model and be accepted by society that you have to have a flawless face and thin perfect body and at any cost necessary. The music industry has followed this pattern as well. Music videos (especially of the Hip-Hop category) are usually filled with woman wearing next to nothing, dancing erotically, and having their body parts zoomed in on by the cameras. This kind of music is extremely popular in younger generations, so when these music videos are being seen by them, then these scenes are going to be viewed as being cool as well. Girls will think that that is the type of look I need to have in order to be popular and cool. Teenagers are conditioned to believe that advertisements and media reflect the world.
Throughout time the ideal of beauty has differed. During the Renaissance, a beautiful woman was more full figured and pale skinned. “This reflected her station of rank in society” (Eco 212). Her size indicated she had enough to eat and her pale skin showed she did not have to work to sustain a living. During the 1920’s, the image of beauty changed. Woman wore their hair bobbed, had slender figures and preferred to have smaller breasts. “The 1950’s brought more changes with the introduction of icons like Marilyn Monroe” (Eco 306). Women wanted to be full figured, very curvy with platinum hair and plenty of sex appeal. As times changed and society’s ideals of beauty changed, one thing remained the same, the pursuit of beauty and perfection.
The most obvious victim of the media stereotyping is young girls. Unrealistic images of beauty and perfection bombard these girls through television, magazines and movies. A study was performed to examine the effects of exposure of the media ideals of body image on women, and to determine if it would affect their self-esteem, body satisfaction, start eating disorder symptoms, and maybe change the level of internalization of the thin ideal. “Women in the experimental group reported lower self-esteem after being exposed to the thin-ideal images compared to the women who viewed neutral images” (Hawkins, Granley, Richards, and Stein 44). “Moreover, in some cases, feelings of body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem may lead adolescents seeking self-improvement to increase their media consumption—resulting in a...
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Hawkins, Nicole, et al. “The impact of Exposure to the Thin-Ideal Media Image on Women.” Eating Disorders 12.1 (2004); 35-50 Academic Search Premier. 12 April 2007.
Monroe, Fiona, and Gail Huon. “ Media-portrayed idealized images, body shame, and appearance anxiety.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 38.1 (2005): 85-90. Academic Search Premier. 12 April 2007.
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