Essay - Media Shaping Women

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Q. Describe the ways women are shaped by the media

The media has clouded women’s perceptions in their body image by demonstrating the ‘ideal bodies’ on TV and magazines through print and film advertising, increasing the pressure for women and young girls to be ‘thin’, further leading to a more complex issue of Eating Disorders.

Women who do not live up to societies expectations, and are suffocated with the phoney concept of the ‘ideal’ are treated with disregard and discrimination. For instance, Adrian Furnham and Nicola Greaves (1994) argue that the core of body image dissatisfaction is a discrepancy between a person’s perceived body and their ideal. They further argue that a failure to match the ‘ideal’ leads to self- criticism, guilt and lowered self worth. This effect is stronger for women than for men due to the cultural pressures on women to conform to an idealised body shape are more powerful and more wide spread than those on men. Psychologists have suggested that the media can affect women’s body esteem by becoming a reference point against which unfavourable body shape comparisons are made (Grogan 1999). These visions are then propagated through popular culture via television reality make over shows of re shaping the body, “ if films of body transformation provide the vision that inspires women to re- make their bodies, the cosmetic and “aesthetic medicine” industry sell them the equipment” (Fox-Kales, 2011, p.74.)

Women are objectified by an unrealistic expectation of beauty, put forward by models and actresses who do not reflect the average appearance of women in society. Print advertising, in particular, provides a not only unrealistic, but unhealthy ideal of what it means to be physically attractive. By these false images being presented, the media has created an ideology of attractiveness. Images have powerful effects on their readers, serving to maintain a ‘cult of femininity’ and supplying definitions of what it means to ‘be a...
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