How media affects women’s body image
Mass media is designed to reach large audiences through the use of technology. Its purpose is meant to give information we need to function as a society. Mass media is everywhere; there is no escaping from it. From the moment you wake until you fall asleep you are confronted with media. Almost every home in America has at least one television, access to the internet, and cell phones. Someone cannot drive down the highway without seeing billboard signs. Checking out at the grocery store can be tricky if trying to avoid magazines. The media portrays what is considered to be normal for how a female acts and looks, and therefore affects what women in society feel they should look and act like. The media's portrayal of body image affects women negatively through using stereotypes, encouraging thinness, and promoting unnecessary products. Of course there are extremely thin people, but it’s usually unhealthy and not terribly normal. One figure which is constant in every form of media is the woman. Not just any woman, but a woman who possesses a “perfect” body. She has a tiny waist, slender legs, flawless skin, perfectly sized and placed eyes, lips and nose, and dressed in the latest fashion or next to nothing at all. Her hair is soft, shiny and perfectly styled. She eats McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks, whole tubs of ice cream, and does not gain a kilo. Does anybody really know this woman? No, she is a photoshoped person. The media uses stereotypes to portray what a "normal" body should look like. The media refers to thin and big breasted women as being beautiful and bigger women not as beautiful; this is a stereotype. This is why most models are extremely thin. Clothing companies choose thin people to model their clothing because they think that the clothes they have made will look better on a thin person. This is also why you never see a ‘Male’ mannequin who has a sunken chest and a pot belly. The idea is to make you think you’ll look like that, if you’d only purchase the item of clothing. What ends up happening is that someone does buy the clothing and then tries to lose weight so that it will look like how it does on the mannequin or model. Michael Levine and Sarah Murnen in their article called “Everybody knows that mass media are not a cause of eating disorders” say that “70% of women are exposed to these types of media daily” (10). So that means that 70% of women probably have it in their head that they should look or act like some of the women they see in a lot of the media. The media in America is specifically the culprit for unattainable body types. In the essay, "The Body of the Beholder," Michele Ingrassia, discusses the physical standards for teens of different cultural backgrounds. She focuses on the difference between young white and African American women in America. As Ingrassia states, "White teens defined perfection as 5 feet 7 and 100 to 110 pounds," while "African-American girls described the perfect size in more attainable terms full hips, thick thighs, the sort of proportions about which Hammer and Sir Mix-A-Lot rap poetic." (2). Being tall and thin is not always a healthy goal for teenage girls. As Denise Witmer states in the article "Body Image and the Media," "The average height and weight for a model is 5'10" and 110 pounds, and the height and weight for the average woman is 5'4" and 145 lbs.,” which "creates a tremendous health risk for young girls ." (294-295). The model image which white women see as "perfection" can lead to unnecessary dieting and severe eating disorders, which are the case for more and more women in America. Not only can the "tall and thin" body image have a dangerous effect on the health of America females, but it is also an unrealistic goal. Many characteristics of female bodies are inherited from past generations such as metabolism, bone structure, and diseases like diabetes. The American Diabetes Association describes some symptoms of the...
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