Sunday, December 2, 2012

Media’s Image of Beauty is Not ONLY Unrealistic but also Extremely Dangerous to Women

Popular Photo Representing
Distorted Thoughts
If you are a female, how many times have you questioned your weight? When you look at a tabloid or watch a TV show and see these very skinny "perfect" looking models and actresses don't you wish you could look more like them? How many times have you tried dieting or other forms of weight loss options to meet this standard of "beauty?" Media has such an influence on female's body image. We strive to look and act similar to what we see all over the media.

A certain unrealistic image of beauty is portrayed throughout media. This image of extremely skinny, unhealthy looking models is what teenagers believe they need to look like in order to be attractive.

According to many specialists, the dissatisfaction of body image contributes to the false beliefs a person experiences. In today’s society a majority of all females struggle with their body image at some point in their lives. The mass advertisement of stick skinny models shown throughout media becomes overwhelming for girls and begins to distort their idea of “beautiful.” The only pictures advertised throughout media, are those of women who are under normal body weight. According to the article, “Female Body Image and the Mass Media: Perspectives on How Women Internalize the Ideal Beauty Standard” written by a student at Westmintser College, “mass media's use of such unrealistic models sends an implicit message that in order for a woman to be considered beautiful, she must be unhealthy” (Serdar). No wonder females have such a hard time accepting their bodies, what is shown as “beautiful” is nearly impossible to attain.

The following clip is from Jane Jakubczak, The University of Maryland's Nutritionist and Body Image Specialist. As an expert, she explains her thoughts on why media is so influential and has such an effect on teenagers.

The manipulated image of beauty is a popular topic of interest today. Most of society is familiar with the effect media has on people, females in particular, and how what is being advertised is far from reality. This deceiving idea is also beginning to effect the younger generation. 

 “From the perspective of the mass media, thinness is idealized and expected for women to be considered attractive" (Serdar). This statement alone, defines the negative message media sends to society. If a woman can only be seen as beautiful if she is thin, than it is only natural for her to strive for thinness right? People believe what is advertised.

On the contrary this message is not just being shown through models anymore, thinness is shown everywhere from TV shows, movies, magazines and even children's toys such as Barbie. It makes us think: Will we live a better life if we meet this criteria of beauty?

This image is also no longer just effecting girls in their adolescent years the younger generation is being hit as well. Self esteem and body conscious problems are surfacing in girls much earlier today and are continuing to increase as they hit their teen years. According to specialists, “studies have found that nearly half of females ages 6-8 have stated that they want to be slimmer” (Striegel-Moore & Franko, 2002).

Let's see what a Sociology Student from Coastal Carolina University has to say about this topic of Interest:

Actress Mary-Kate Olsen during
her eating disorder in 2004

Because of media’s deceiving image of beauty females are putting their health and wellbeing at risk. No longer does a young female just take in what is being advertised, she begins to obsess over it. This is when drastic health problems begin to surface. 

How does a person become "media approved" thin? Of course, there is eating healthy and exercising but apparently that is not enough. In Hollywood alone, almost every model and/ or actress have struggled with weight problems during some part of their career. The most common risk caused from this obsession is falling into an eating disorder. The three most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and exercise anorexia. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), “91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting and 86% report onset of eating disorder by age 20.” Eating disorders are showing up more frequently now than ever before.

SO what is the Answer? Is there a way to prevent teenagers from falling prey to this unrealistic image?  

According to many specialists, there is no concrete way to prevent females from believing what media advertises. However, many agree that having positive role models at home is an important start. Elizabeth Heubeck states, in the online article “Helping Girls with Body Image,” “girls take to heart what their mothers say about bodies: their own, their daughters, those of strangers and celebrities. They notice when their mothers exercise obsessively, diet constantly, or make derogatory comments about their own appearance. That should come as no surprise, as mothers are a girl's first and, often, most influential role model” (Heubeck). Also, parents should monitor what their teenagers are being exposed to. In particular, the kinds of celebrity magazines and TV shows where appearance and body image is constantly being discussed.

Beauty Icon- Marilyn Monroe
 Media’s image of beauty is simply unrealistic and unattainable. Since there is no way to change what is being advertised, it is important to help young females understand they are beautiful simply the way they are and that what is being portrayed throughout media is not real life.

We are ALL beautiful regardless of what size jeans we wear!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Citizen's Opinion On Media and Body Image