The Influences of Media on Young Women

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For the average teenage girl in today’s society, looking her best has become a daily obsession. To get herself prepared for the day, she would get up early to take a shower and make sure she has plenty of time to apply the necessary makeup and put on the required attire for school. To have time to do this, she must skip out on a few things, such as an extra hour of sleep and breakfast, both of which her body needs. The morning ritual is directly connected to the type of body images that is produced by the media. Teenage girls’ mindset about themselves has been altered so drastically because of the media and Hollywood’s image that is being depicted in newspapers, magazines, and television. The media is producing false body images using these movies, commercials, magazines, television, and even the Barbie doll to young and impressionable girls. Two of the most significant of these is television and advertising. There are a variety of television shows and advertisements that portray to the public that in order for them to be well liked among their peers, they must buy the clothes, the electronics, and the cars. Immediately following the turning on of the television, girls are bombarded with images of how they should act, dress, feel, and look. Girls today are convinced that if they are a size zero, it equals perfection. Television shows such as The O.C. and America’s Next Top Model only add to the bizarre skinny craze. Not only do these images affect girls’ self-image, but it also affects the way they see other girls that are around them. Teenage girls are would be less pressured to become something they are not or have good self-esteem if television shows and other forms of entertainment would limit what they are broadcasting so as not to create a false image for these young girls.

In our society, the media works in many ways. It is a means for information, promotion, communication, and news. It is one huge factor in our environment that influences decisions and acts to inspire our youth. Sometimes the messages that the media projects, however, are not all positive. There is a common appearance of waif-like models around the globe. These models are on the covers and in the popular magazines that are generated for the age group of thirteen to seventeen year old girls. These images send a hazardous message about being skinny. If these women were on the cover of a top-selling magazine, there must be a reason, right? And the way the image is portrayed onto the cover makes it seem as if it is their looks that got them onto the cover. In an article written by Liz Dittrich, Ph.D., who is the director of resource and outreach with the About Face organization that promotes positive self-esteem in women and girls, wrote an article about facts on the media and it’s influences on society. In she states that, “In a study of the content of Seventeen Magazine which is the most widely distributed adolescent magazine, for the years of 1945, 1955, 1965, 1975, 1985 and 1995 found that in all issues the largest percentage of pages were devoted to articles about appearance” (Dittrich, Ph.D.). This shows that this issue of body image has been in the media for the past seventy years. For decades, teenage girls have been exposed to articles about the “ideal” appearance.

Magazines are forever pitching stories and images of how they think young people should act. Look at the magazine Teen People for example; it’s target is young girls aged thirteen to seventeen, and contains articles such as “How To Dress So They Notice You” (Teen People Publishers). The teenage girl magazine CosmoGirl tells thirteen-year old girls, “How to Achieve the Perfect Hair, Skin, Face, and Body.” These girls are growing up out of their child phase and are learning how to find their individual identities. However, they come face-to-face with articles that tell them how to look and how to act so that they will be noticed by the opposite sex and become popular in their...
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