Media and Body Image

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According to the Media Dynamics publication, Media Matters, an average adult has a potential daily exposure to approximately 600-625 advertisements in any form. These exposures come from all media mediums; television, radio, newspaper, magazines, and internet. There are advertisements for everything from juice to condoms, fruit snacks to Viagra, Old Navy clothing sales to perfumes and Victoria’s Secret. The media exposes viewers to extremes between harmless and persuasive material and highly sensitive and questionable material. What are possible consequences? Who do the advertisers target with their sensitive and questionable material? Why? Media has a wide range of targets, but the most vulnerable and easily persuaded target audience across the board is adolescent and teen females. Females at this age are exploring and attempting to discover their identities, are learning and internalizing societal expectations and are under the influence of changing social norms and an increase in hormonal activity. This is true across culture and race, and has sparked international controversy due to the sensitive and vulnerable nature of this audience. A British government-commissioned study has proposed putting disclaimers on digitally altered images of models, warning consumers that the too-perfect woman staring at them from inside a fashion magazine is, in fact, too perfect. The report, authored by psychologist and media personality Linda Papadopoulos, said that "when girls evaluate themselves against unrealistic airbrushed images it cultivates a feeling of falling short, of not being 'good enough.'" She recommended that ratings should be affixed to such images to make clear if and how models had been altered. The issue of airbrushing has arisen periodically in the U.K., and further attention was drawn to the issue in October when a model in a Ralph Lauren advertisement was so drastically photoshopped that her waist was left looking smaller than her head. Ralph Lauren...