The Media’s Affect on Teen Body Image
For years media seems to be the center of everything. Media is in television, cell phones, internet, and billboards. With media comes advertisements. It is become impossible to avoid them; we see hundreds every day, everywhere. Advertisements are meant to make us aware of new products and gain our attention so we will want to buy them. However, the center of most advertisements are young, thin, ‘flawless’ girls. With the media glorifying pretty girls and toned men, how does the media affect teenage body image?
The Definition and Ideas of Body Image
Body image refers to a person’s emotional attitudes, beliefs and perceptions of his or her own body (Small, 2011). Models on magazine covers and advertisements represent an ‘ideal body’, even fictional characters on television shows are portrayed as thin and beautiful (Kovar, 2009). Teenagers being surrounded by all this can be convinced to compare themselves to these people in the lime light. What most teenagers do not realize is approximately two percent of people are as thin as models (Kowalski, 2003). The westernized image of a perfect body is always changing drastically (Small, 2011). Since the 1960’s ‘the look’ has been thin and un-curvaceous, but there once was a time that it was ideal to be voluminous with curves. Society focuses more on physical beauty than what is underneath, and because of this, teens are almost brainwashed to believe something that can be so harmful.
Negative influences by the Media
Teenagers are most affected by the media because they are the most exposed to it; they are more experienced and connected with technology. Most of the concerns about the media relate to girls however, research shows teenage boys are becoming more insecure and experience anxiety with their body (Media Smarts, 2012). Men are shown as people who are suppose to be confident, masculine, and well put together. For the teenage boys that are not necessarily this type can lead to extreme self-consciousness. It could potentially result in teenagers lashing out physically amongst peers or themselves.
Surveys suggest that 83% of adolescent girls read fashion magazines for an average of 4.3 hours per week (Levine & Smolak, 1996). When girls are reading these magazines, they see unrealistic pictures of woman and they could get an idea that this is the ‘norm.’ Girls are typically more insecure about themselves and are more judgmental of other girls. There are so many television shows and only five percent of woman involved with television are overweight (Media Smart, 2012). Girls who appear on television that are overweight often receive negative comments from other characters, or are pointed out because they are over weight. Therefore, the thin character in portrayed as the better one, this is planting it into teenagers head that to succeed you have to be a certain size. In some cases, you do have to be thin to be successful. Girls who are plus size that want to be in the entertainment business and be apart of these advertisements are told that it is almost impossible because of their size. The media puts extra stress on teenage girls and boys to fit a certain image that is unrealistic.
Positive Influences by the Media
By the age of fourteen, fifty five percent of girls already feel the pressure of having to look beautiful (Sharon MacLeod, 2011). Girls critique themselves more than others do. Dove® is a company that instead of focusing on woman that are thin and flawless they focus on everyday woman. Through commercials, products, and other sorts of advertisement, they explain that everyone is beautiful in their own way. Dove® sets up workshops for girls with self-esteem issues to attend. Their ultimate goal is to change the western idea of ‘beautiful’ into every one feeling confident in the way they look. This campaign has encouraged other companies to follow...