The influence of the media on all aspects of culture and society has been a issue around the world. One of the social cultural aspects particularly influenced by the media is body image. A surprisingly large number of individuals, the majority of which are young women, develop their body image in with the ideas advanced by the media, which judge women’s attractiveness based on how thin they are. Body-image plays a very important role in our individualistic society. Modern beauty image standards which favor thin body image create an unrealistic expectation on young women, often resulting in eating disorders and other destructive practices, like self-harming, unnecessary or elective cosmetic surgery, decreased self-esteem and the use of harmful substances, like diuretics.
A body image is a subjective combination of all the thoughts, emotions, and judgments that an individual may perceive about his or her own body. Each individual has a unique perception of his or her own body. This image is strongly influenced and often times skewed due to the increasing pressure created from outside, societal factors. With a world that is continuously creating new forms of social media and entertainment, individuals are constantly exposed to images that supposedly define bodily perfection and are then expected to resemble these images in order to fit in and/or please society. The expectations that have been put in place by society has created unwanted pressure on individuals who feel as if they need to resemble these images to get society’s approval.
Every time you flip a magazine, change channels, or go online, you are struck with images of models who are super skinny with flashy outfits and have excessive make-up on. Ads not only try to sell their products, but also promote how females should look like. These models are airbrushed and photo shopped which is false advertisement. The media progressively encourages a thinner body image as the ideal for women. We see advertisements every day. Some of these ads use manipulative strategies that influence our choices and spending habits. For example, “One in every three articles in leading teen girl magazines included a focus on appearance, and most advertisements used appeal to beauty to sell their products.”(Teen Health) To grab the viewers’ attention, especially females, they include
Over time, the perfect body image has changed in many ways. This is very evident in the female sex, especially through media. “Americans spend about 68 hours per week exposed to various forms of media” (US Census Bureau 2009). This media exposure through outlets such as t.v., radio, music videos, movies, and the internet, all influence the way people think about gender. The media influence is very evident in the way people view women and think about women in different cultures. Media influence on women creates negative viewpoints with how women view themselves and even how men view themselves, in turn making it hard to break certain beliefs and stereotypes instilled on society.
Modern people live media-saturated lives, even children as young as 6 years old, have had some type of media exposure. Extensive exposure to media outlets can lead to body image issues. Body image is defined as, the subjective picture or mental image of one's own body (Smolak 2003). Body image is formed as people compare themselves to others. Because, people are exposed to countless media images; these images become the basis for such comparisons. These mental comparisons, have a strong influence on an individual’s personal perception of beauty. Media outlets create images and pressures about what our bodies should look like; however, sometimes these images have been manipulated, creating an unrealistic expectation of beauty. When an individual believes that their body is substandard, they can become depressed, suffer from low self-esteem, or develop eating disorders.
The media group that retouches images skews the “normal” body image of people through many of its outlets, including models in advertising and magazines, and actors in TV and movie productions. “The average model portrayed in the media is approximately 5’11” and 120 pounds. By contrast, the average American woman is 5’4” and 140 pounds” (Holmstrom, 2004). This statistic shows how the media manipulates consumers into believing that because they are not what the average model looks like, they are not living up to a certain standard which implies that they need to look like that to be beautiful. Another research fact that shows a similar concept is that, “In the United States, 94% of female characters in television programs are thinner than the average American woman, with whom the media frequently associate happiness, desirability, and success in life” (Yamamiya et al., 2005). This association of female thinness and happiness, desirability and success makes consumers believe they must achieve this unrealistic thinness to achieve more ultimate goals and fulfillment in life. “The media also explicitly instruct how to attain thin bodies by dieting, exercising, and body-contouring surgery, encouraging female consumers to believe that they can and should be thin” (Yamamiya et al., 2005). This idealization of thinness in the media is seen so much, and is extremely harmful to women’s self confidence and is often associated with body image dissatisfaction, which can be a precursor to social anxiety, depression, eating disturbances, and poor self-esteem (Yamamiya et al.,
A very prominent and controversial issue related to media-idealized images is that of eating disorders and eating problems. Eating problems include binge eating, purging, and unhealthy eating problems. These disorders are seen in young adolescents who are at a very fragile stage of life. Teenagers experience bodily changes as well as peer pressure and new experiences of going into high school. According to Dakanalis et al. the media portrays individuals with an extremely thin build for females and a slim-muscular build (i.e., muscles along with minimal body fat) for males is considered to be the cause of body displeasure and eating pathology. There is no solid evidence to prove that the media is to blame for the degree of eating disorder symptoms and negative body-image feelings that many feel, hence the reason it continues to be a highly debated topic. There has although, been continuous research and theories comprised over objectification. This occurs when men and women are sexually objectified. A person is treated as a body, where beauty and attractiveness of a person are important and valued. This theory can be found nearly anywhere because of the amount and variety of social interaction. It is common because of the way media represents body images. The media has ideals of men and women’s body images and individuals are compared to how well
It is known today that media and body image are closely related. Particularly, how the body image advertising portrays effects our own body image. It has been documented in adolescents as they are more at risk for developing unhealthy attitudes toward their bodies. They are at a time where they
Today, we are always surrounded by a variety of media and we identify ourselves in parts of those images we see. Media believes women should look like Victoria Secret models: tall, lean, and tanned women, but lately there has been issue from women all over the world who are tired of having to be set at impossible types of female figures. Revolving around a certain type of body figure is horrible because bodies come in different shapes and sizes. The media has influenced the female body perception by showing that women need to have a “perfect body” to pass in society. These magnificence gauges, multiplied through the media, impacts affect women and their self-perceptions. The medias influence on female body image has led to eating disorders, dissatisfaction in women, depression, and substance abuse in women.
Media holds such high standards in today 's society, and media as a whole has gotten so much power throughout the years. There are so many different forms of media in today 's world: newspapers, magazines, televisions, the hundreds of websites on the Internet, social media applications, computers, and novels. Media advertises thousands of different things, but something that has stayed consistent over the years is advertisement on body image. Media advertises a specific body type, pushes different dietary needs to achieve this body type and thus creating the standard of in order to be beautiful, this particular body type must be achieved. However, what advertisers seem to be neglecting is the effect their advertisements are having on its viewers. The constant push to achieve a certain body type has affected the health of thousands of people around the world, and directly affecting the eating disorder epidemic.
The female body image is highly influenced by the mass media and the media’s portrayal of women, ‘70% of college women say they feel worse about their own looks after reading women’s magazines’ (University of Massachusetts & Stanford University, 2006), the portrayal of women in the media has an unrealistic approach and brings out body dissatisfactions and this results in eating problems and disorders.
The dissatisfaction of one’s body type The results of this study indicated a low effect size for all studies. The participants who were shown pictures in the media of thin models tended to think there was something wrong with their body weight. Other participants who viewed models who were overweight tended to have a positive outlook on their body image. Another study that was conducted by Han, 2003 looked at female Korean college students and the way in which media exposure affected the way they perceive body image. This experiment was conducted by using 42 college female college students who were exposed to images of thin models in magazine ads. After viewing the images for about 5 minutes the women were then asked to fill out a questionnaire. This questionnaire was built to see their indication on body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance based upon the pictures that were shown. Then an upward comparison was used to see whether they agreed or disagreed with the images of the models shown. As these results stated the females that were exposed to the pictures of the thin models showed a higher level of upward comparison then those who were not shown the models. Participants in the experimental group also perceived the thin models to be more practical than those who were participants of the control group. A second part of this experiment used 75 female college
There is something obviously wrong with these statistics. Women who subject themselves to these circumstances are fighting against their own body make-ups in order to fulfill the standards put out by the media. In order to change these staggering statistics in the future, we must examine what the media does to make girls and women obtain eating disorders.
Messages that portray an idealized “thin” image are ubiquitous throughout media and are more focused towards female images than those of males (Strahan et al., 2006). It has been proposed that due to Western culture’s emphasis on a slimmer physique, body dissatisfaction and weight concerns have increased among females (Lake, Staiger & Glowinski, 2000). Becker (2004) was interested in the effects of introducing television into a media-naïve Fijian community. Researchers interviewed schoolgirls three years after introducing television. They found that young girls watching television appeared to be modelling behaviours of certain characters depicted in TV dramas (Becker, 2004). More striking evidence of the influence of media on women’s negative attitudes towards weight surfaced when the girls made comments admiring characters for their “appearance, weight and self- presentation” (Becker, 2004). This ultimately reflected a motivated desire in young females to reshape their bodies to reflect those seen on TV, which fostered disordered eating patterns (Becker, 2004). This study demonstrates the power of the pernicious nature of media exposure on the emergence of a preoccupation with body weight and shape in young females. An emergence of a new trend in the idealized female shape seems to have surfaced—from a curvier more voluptuous figure to one more angular and lean in shape (Garner, Garfinkel, Schwartz & Thompson, 1980).