An Analysis of North American Media Influence on Physical Condition

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Claude Lemieux
Mme Holly Dougall
EAE 4U
December 2012
An Analysis of North American Media Influence on Physical Condition North Americans are subject to numerous amount of media exploiting their beliefs for profit. Media extends to the source of how one may perceive ones beauty and quality of ones physical condition. By continually bombarding the public eye with advertisements aggressively enforcing a thin body image and muscular definition, media causes viewers to desire these body images and discover methods to reach this image. Inevitably leading to viewers abusing their bodies with poor methods of dieting, and creating unhealthy bodies. Contemporary North American media is characterized by its emphasis on body image, which distorts our perception and expectation of our physical bodies. Analysis of men’s, women’s and adolescents’ thoughts and actions reveals the negative consequences of these media influences.

North American media distorts the self-perspective men have on their physical image, causing them to do extreme activities to achieve these false expectations. Males are targeted by many advertisements, encouraging a tone and muscular body image. For several years, these messages have been increasing within media. Sam Ferniano & Mark Nickerson from the Center for Media Literacy say “Men’s magazines published significantly more advertisements and articles about changing body shapes”. These constant messages to achieve a remarkably tone body forces men to re-evaluate their physical condition. Nevertheless, low self-esteem would be found for men who do not have this type of body strongly enforced by media. Furthermore, while examining any form of media, it can be noticed that most men are given to certain kind of stereotype and portrays men as less realistic, more perfect and more predictable (Farniano & Nickerson). There for, each male character obtains similar characteristics that the public has labelled as manly traits. Moreover, by defining the ideal man, media creates “Narrowed notions to what men can do” (Farniano & Nickerson), causing males to believe that other characteristics such as being emotional and caring, are not part of the ideal man. By altering the expectations men have for their physical condition, media causes low self-esteem in men. Additionally, media imposes ideal activities men should participate in. By enforcing the idea to have large amount of muscle for men, media encourages importance for the use of a gym. Alternatively, we notice media influencing certain groups of men, such as stereotyping black males as athletes and entertainers. These roles “Mislead young black male viewers in thinking success is only a dribble or dance step away” (Wood). Under those circumstances, men of all races are subject to believe these stereotypes, subsequently causing men to change their personal perception of themselves to match the stereotype. With false expectations North American media creates for men, there are negatives consequences that follow. As a result of the influence media has on men, they believe some of their present traits are unwanted because it does not follow the message given by media. Therefore, men are more apt to withdraw from specific behaviour unsupported by media. Moreover, negative consequences follow such as being “Discouraged from pursuing many positive traits that are perceived as unmanly…including the ability to feel a range of emotions, including fear, hurt, confusion or despair” (Furniano & Nickerson). However, the traits stated above are indeed qualities women look for in a mate (Gaudio & Taplin). Meanwhile, stereotypes built by media removes the idea that men would be caring beings. “When someone is shown taking care of a child, it’s usually the mother, not the father” (Ferniano & Nickerson). Therefore, men do not wish to obtain these qualities because media enforces the idea that they are not qualities fit for an ideal man. By...
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