Does Media Influence Adolescent Girls Into Having Negative Body Images

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October 24,2010

Does the Media Cause Individuals to Develop Negative Body Images? The influence the media has upon all of society can have positive and negative effects on the public. The effect the media has on adolescent girls in regard to body image has had negative impacts, such as an obsession with body weight and what the society views as the “perfect body”. The media can be seen as partly responsible for the pressure adolescent females’ face in consideration to body issues. These pressures could be responsible for adolescent girls developing serious eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, which are two serious eating disorders which are affecting adolescent girls. A child, (Body image problems, eating disorders and media messages, 2006) or adolescent is considered to have body image problems if they have negative thoughts and feelings about their body, often only modestly related to their actual appearance. Body image is psychological in nature. It is influenced by your self-esteem and self-worth and it in turn, influences your self-esteem and self-worth. It is how you perceive your physical body and how you feel others perceive it. It is not based in the truth, but in what you see as the truth (How does the media effect body image in teens, 2010). Many adolescents develop negative body images; so the question that arises is does the media directly affect eating disorders in adolescent girls? There are many opinions amongst society on the issue of eating disorders in relation to adolescent girls and the media. Does the medium promote unrealistic thin ideals for women and adolescent girls to follow and are adolescent girls so pressured by wanting to fit into what the media portrays as the ideal shape and size, that they are developing eating disorders? If this is true than eating disorders could be viewed as socially learned behavior. The female ideal has become progressively thinner over the years (Body image problems, eating disorders and media messages) A Typical female model is now often as much as 20% underweight, with 15% underweight a diagnostic criterion for anorexia nervosa. The national institute on media and the family reports that at age 13, 53% of American girls are unhappy with their bodies’ reaching 78% by the time they are 17. According to Becker (as cited by Body image problems, eating disorders and media messages, 2006) there is a marked link between television watching, negative body image and eating disorders. According to Tiggemann and Pickering (Tiggemann & Pickering, 1996) television is arguably the most prominent and influential form of the mass media, especially for adolescents. Not only do young people watch the most television, but Johnson and Schlundt (as cited by Tiggemann & Pickering, 1996) have also suggested that the societal pressures of thinness are particularly influential during adolescence and young adult hood as this is the time of gender identity development and sex role exploration. In Tiggemann and Pickering’s study on “The role of television in adolescent women’s body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness” the  results found that ‘although the amount of television watched did not correlate with either body dissatisfaction or drive for thinness, the categories of programs (sport, soaps, music videos) did (Tiggermann & Pickering, 1996). Tiggemann then proceeded to do another study in 2006 “The tole of media exposure in adolescent girl’s dissatisfaction and drive for thinness” and found there is a wealth of converging empirical evidence that demonstrates a link between the mass media and body concerns or disturbed eating. There is correlated evidence that fashion magazines and television affect body dissatisfaction (Tiggermann, 2006). Tiggemann also did a study where after viewing commercials depicting women with the unrealistic thin-ideal type of beauty, teenage girls felt less confident, angrier and more dissatisfied with their weight...
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