Portrayal of Teenage Girls in the Media

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In the United States of America, citizens possess the privilege to enjoy the freedom of speech and the freedom to express their views and feelings under the protection of the U.S. Constitution. However, there may be a point at which freedom of speech is abused or escalated to an unethical level that may be harmful to the well-being of society, particularly the youth of today and the future leaders of our world. Over the years, the question “should parents be concerned about the portrayal of teenage girls in the media?” has become a significant controversial moral issue in society. The portrayal of teenage girls in the media is a controversial moral issue because of the cultural sensitivity and the perceived intrusiveness of the subject. This issue primarily concerns the excessiveness of sexual content and unbecoming images of young women exposed through the media. Needless to say, this question leaves many parents ill at ease. Images, perceived norms and new trends are consistently being set for how young girls and women must look, act, think, and feel in order to be successful and accepted in today’s society. There has been an ongoing debate concerning moral actions that need to be taken to regulate the appropriateness of age sensitive material being permeated throughout the media. Media is everywhere; it is in classrooms, advertisements, movies, televisions, magazines, newspapers, the internet, the workplace, and in homes all over the country, and it continues to infuse the world and our lives. Media does not only sell tangible products, but also morals, values, concepts of life, and success, and to some extent normalcy (Killing Us Softly 3). Whether positive or negative, consciously or unconsciously, media affects each and every one of us every day. Young girls are being exposed to a supposed ‘ideal’ image of female beauty through the years of media exposure. For example, the notion that the most important thing to a young woman should be her physical appearance is an idea that is acquired at a very young age. Even before a girl reaches puberty, she is already aware of her physical appearance and the effect it has on her stand in society. Extreme and unhealthy amounts of guilt and shame can follow if the young woman does not achieve that perception (Killing Us Softly 3). Many people in America’s society believe that the media’s unethical behavior is to blame for influencing and even producing some of the nation’s growing problems among teens, such as eating disorders, increased participation in sexual activity, pregnancy rates, rape, increased alcohol consumption and drug use. Others, however, feel that society should not blame the media for the inappropriate behavior and that lack of discipline and morals among teens in today’s society, but rather blame the parents and educators who influence and guide those teens. The majority of parents hold the media responsible for the corruption of the morals of teenage girls. They believe that the media’s widely unrealistic and unhealthy depiction of young women and what they are supposed to look and behave like in order to be socially accepted and respected has allowed and encouraged teenage girls to become overly consumed in achieving this supposed ideal. Sadly, it has left many girls confused, in danger, or even dead. Supporters of this position argue that “the mainstream corporate media construct sex and sexuality in ways that limit and hamper girls’ healthy sexual development” (Durham 12). They trust that there is more evidence that the messages teenage girls are getting about sex from media are harmful rather than helpful (12). Intervention began to be a growing demand from the public audience. One potential resolution to this moral issue is to continue revising and producing television and movie ratings that are current, relevant, and constructive to the current images spread through the media. For example, a ban on commercials and advertisements that objectify women...
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