Teenage Girls, the Media and Self-Image Essay

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Teenage Girls, the Media and Self-Image The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder. -Virginia Woolf Youth is beauty, money is beauty, hell, beauty is beauty sometimes. It's the luck of the draw, it's the natural law; it's a joke, it's a crime. -Ani Difranco The teen magazines began appearing in the fifth grade. They seemed to show up overnight, out of nowhere. At lunch or between classes, groups of girls would cluster around the desk of the mature eleven-year-old who brought in the latest issue of Seventeen. Page by page, they explored the intricacies of how to unlock the secrets of boys, makeup tips to accentuate a girl's natural beauty, and quizzes to help one…show more content…
Girls began wearing a bit of makeup to classes, the kind they could get away with under the watchful eye of our Catholic school teachers. Hair was styled in the fashion of magazine models. To the dismay of school officials, the skirts of jumpers were shortened with the help of mothers, excited that their daughters were finally "growing up" enough to pay attention to physical appearance. I recall shaving my legs for the first time later that year. This incident, typical of pre-teen American girls in the early 1990s, was my first conscious encounter with the power of the media over the details of individual lives. Mass communication allows for the exchange of information instantaneously and thoroughly so that no one is immune to absorbing the messages of the media. It is no secret that the media has a profound influence on the ways in which we view ourselves as members of American society, neatly defining each person by gender, race, and economic status. In his essay "Life with Daughters: Watching the Miss America Pageant," Gerald Early dissects the Miss America Pageant's role in creating his young daughters' perceptions of themselves as African-American females. While the author has good intentions, the issues of gender and race that he chooses to tackle in this essay are far too large and important to limit to one annual television program; there is much more information available on the
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