April 6, 2014
The Effects of Mass Media on African American Women Body Images
Over the past 10 years, mass media and the access to social networks has evolved substantially causing the effects of negative self-image and what is considered beautiful. Body image expectations for both African-American male and female share the battles of society’s expectations, yet African American women body images come with a stricter and more unhealthy stigma; growth of social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter brings these expectations of self-image into our homes and our children minds. “The Internet is easily the most pervasive form of mediated communication that we encounter in our lives. Even traditional forms of mass communication drive us toward the Internet” (Bryant, Thompson & Finklea, 295). Social networks influences negative self-image and expectations of what is beautiful to society. Beauty expectations has a long standing history into our lives, but comparing the increase in body augmentations, extreme dieting and even bulimia nervous in our generation is heavily related to mass media. Over exposure to social networks may contribute to the development of low discrepancy for sexual desire with partner, negative views toward self-body image, and even the need to seek illegal avenues for plastic surgery.
As humans, we tend to rate ourselves pretty harsh and I believe social media networks have caused an increase for the expectations of body image. Recently, the media has had a huge impact on relationships, the proper raising of children and especially the ideal body that an African- American woman should have. Although, I do highly believe that we should improve woman’s health, I also know that every person doesn’t look like the model we see on television. In the African American culture, recently, it has been a turn of times and the media thin-ideal is being curvy within our community. Every new music video and social media networks put the black woman with the tiny waist with huge thighs and butt as the perfect woman. The impact of the media is causing a change in African American women views on their lives, body and overall expectations as what a black woman should look like. It is well known that obesity and being curvier than other races is well documented within society, yet it’s now becoming an issue with our society to enhance these features that we are so well known for. Even for the common thin-ideal woman that is often portrayed in the media is typically 15% below the average weight of women, representing an unrealistic standard of thinness (tall, with narrow hips, long legs, and thin thighs) (Johnson, Tobin, & Steinberg, 1989). Yet within the African American culture, video vixens promote their bodies as a sign of owning who they are and controlling the situation regardless of what they may have on. Still another perspective is that of Melyssa Ford, “the highest paid video girl to date” (Byrd and Solomon, 2005) who describes her vulnerability on video shoots, objectification by men, and the process of reclaiming power over her own body, which she describes as her commodity. Without denial, Melyssa Ford is a well-educated woman and one of the few vixens who have used her body to open doors to new opportunities, but believing her body is the golden ticket is the main issue that I have with the media influence. These contrasting perspectives demonstrate the complexity of issues (e.g., the range of perceptions about woman’s objectification) and pose critical questions for scholars who seek to understand contemporary Black women’s experiences (Byrd and Solomon, 2005). The idea that the African American woman has been created as an object and should have a particular body to be accepted into their culture as the ideal African American woman. Black culture has always been the more voluptuous curves in women, yet those women were considered cornbread fed and the...
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