How the Media effects Womens body image Essay

This essay has a total of 2243 words and 9 pages.

How the Media effects Womens body image




Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In the eyes of society, women like Pamela Anderson,
Tyra Banks and Carmen Electra are the epitome of perfection. What girl would not want to
look like them? Unfortunately, a number of girls want to be just like them. Every year,
millions of people are hurting themselves trying to be carbon copies of these sex symbols.
The media presents society with unrealistic body types promoting people, especially women,
to look like them. Through TV shows, commercials, magazines or any form of advertising,
the media enforces a certain body type which women emulate. The so-called perfect body
type causes many negative effects on women in the US. Women who focus on unrealistic body
images tend to have lower self-esteem and are more likely to fall prey to eating
disorders. The media has a dangerous influence on women's health in the United States.

The media is a primary factor in the development and maintenance of women's body image
problems. Women start to feel insecure about their bodies by looking at media images. This
would not be such a problem if these images were not reinforced daily. This provokes women
to diet more because they feel more pressure to be slim. "But advertisers are not
particularly wicked people who set out to delude and mislead us. They simply provide
images that we find seductive. Advertisers are the voice of society projected on a
billboard or a TV screen" (Buckroyd 52).

The magazine racks in any local store are saturated with magazines highlighting beautiful
women adorning the covers. Commercials on TV feature tall, thin women promoting a certain
product. The media presents and unrealistic body type for girls to look up to. They do not
reflect on images from everyday life. When walking around in any place, very few people
look like the women in commercials, most of them thin, but not overly so. Because flawless
images appear so often in daily life, its hard to remember their not real and often many
girls don't. They hold themselves up to these images and feel the only was they can live
life to its fullest is to look like these people. Even if someone as at their perfect
weight, it's easy to feel like a failure when comparing to a movie star or to Seventeen's
cover girl.

The line between fantasy and reality is skewed by mass media. The media places much stress
on obtaining the so-called body image. Society pays a significant amount of attention to
body image, physical attractiveness, youthfulness, sexuality and appearance. "The minimum
requirement for the sort of model who appears on advertising hoarding is a height of 5 ft
9 in and a size 8 to 10" (Buckroyd 55). No matter how hard someone tries, they will never
achieve the look and figure of the supermodels. "The problem of girls and women comparing
themselves to 'ideal women' has gotten more difficult in recent years. A look at the
measurement of Playboy centerfolds and Miss America finalists over the past 20 years
shows that, although these women symbolize beauty have been weighing less and less. In
other words, society's ideal women keeps getting thinner and thinner and much more
difficult for people to imitate" (Maloney 2). There is a right way for the female body to
look and that way is thin. "But what we see on television is a special kind of thin. Most
of us could starve our selves down to slivers and still not look anything like those sleek
bodies that flit across our screen day and night" (Valette 4).

"You can't get away from TV, it's everywhere" (Brew I). Leading characters in the current
crop of TV shows are all thin. The TV shows with the highest ratings, such as Friends and
Ally McBeal, have tall thin lead actresses. In Friends, there are three young, tall, and
thin leads. They are outfitted in tight shirts and mini-skirts. They all live good lives
and have fun. In Ally McBeal, Ally is played by a young tall and extremely thin actress.
She plays a successful lawyer. The message that this is sending across is that the key to
success in today's society is to be young, tall and thin. Characters that are heavier are
usually elderly , matronly, in low-status occupation or on the wrong side of the law. In
the TV show Roseanne, she played an overweight mother of a low-income family. The show
related with a lot more people, but the message was fat people can't be successful.

The media biggest target is children. They are young and easily influenced. "Oh, nobody
takes stuff on television that seriously", (Valette 31). But psychologists who study the
effects of television on children's learning do not agree. The have shown that television
images have a unique power to mold children's attitudes. "These attitudes are established
at a very early age in America. Preschoolers who are given a choice of thin dolls or
chubby ones tend to choose the thin ones. By the second grade, youngster describe
overweight classmates as 'lazy' and 'stupid,' even though these labels and inaccurate and
unfair" (Erlanger 5). Consciousness about body image can start as early as six. Children
look at TV characters as what society expects of them. Through television images, they
can already start to stereotype if heavy people are seen in low-class or low comedy roles,
children will look down upon them; if thin people show up in high roles, children assume
that they play and important role in society. "Television is the most powerful
communication medium in our whole visually oriented society" (Valette 32).

Hollywood makes people feel inadequate if our bodies aren't like the ones seen in movies.
"Stars have personal trainers, stylists, make-up artists and people to airbrush the
wrinkles and cellulite out of their magazine covers - all of whom create an image that is
meant to be frozen in a photograph or presented in a two-hour snippet" (Brew I). The
bodies we see on TV are perfect. They are bodies of athletes, models, and weight trainers.
These people keep themselves in showroom condition all the time and are expected too. For
example, Pamela Anderson's contract for Baywatch strictly forbade her to gain weight. She
had a fitness regimen, even during non-working months. "Anderson keeps to a rigorous
program of 25-mile mountain bike rides or one to two hour athletic walks, plus 50 lap pool
swims or more strenuous ocean swims" (Zimmerman I). Pamela Anderson isn't the only one
with such a vigorous routine, other stars have followed the trend too. "The REDBOOK
article 'Take it off like a star' described Oprah Winfrey as having 'a maniac exercise
routine' that includes two daily four mile runs, plus 45 minutes on the Stairmaster and
350 sit-ups. Bette Midler reportedly eats nothing but vegatable;es after 5:00 pm. Demi
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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