7 November 2014
Every day, Western culture bombards females with advertisements and images of glamorous women. These advertisements highlight their beautiful features, and the pressures of society encourage average women to strive to reach that level of perfection. The individuals in the photographs are often computer edited, manipulated into looking better than they actually are. The images portrayed by the media are often heavily edited and feature women with bodies not possessed by the average female.
The edited images of ideal bodies perpetrated by the media are a contributing factor to poor body image, low self-esteem, and eating disorders among females. According to numerous doctors and therapists, self-worth is established in relation to what is portrayed in the media, and when magazines and advertisements are Photoshopped, the expectations for average women are altered. In an attempt to reach this new standard for females, some girls develop eating disorders and obsess about losing weight and become thinner and more beautiful. How a person looks is often directly related to how they feel about themselves, and this is linked to the social norm. Self-esteem is defined as confidence through self-worth, and for teenage girls in most Western cultures, self-worth is linked to body image. Body image is developed parallel to a number of sociocultural factors, one of which is the edited and unrealistic media images of so-called “ideal women.” The images shown in the media subconsciously effect young girls and lower their self-esteem because they believe that the edited images show what they ought to look like (Clay). The link between body image and self-worth is evident, as is the link between photo-editing and self-esteem. In 2011, the American Medical Association urged the media and businesses to stop retouching models and editing photographs so heavily. They warned “we must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software.” The effects of the enhanced photos were taking a toll on American youth and negatively affected their self-image and self-esteem (“Body Image”). Young people are highly impressionable and internalize what they see in the media. The American Medical Association emphasizes that their self-esteem is dependent on what they see on television and in magazines because that is where they get their ideas about what they should look like. Self-esteem is easily manipulated by outside influences, and can be damaged by the media because edited photos are considered to be highly detrimental. Girls in middle school and high school are extremely susceptible to the images that are portrayed in the media. The digitally enhanced photos set the standards for these girls, and they suffer because of these expectations. The Assistant Professor of Health Science Education at the University of Florida, Elizabeth Collins, conducted a survey and discovered that sixty-nine percent of girls in 5th through 12th grade say that the pictures they see in magazines influence their idea of the perfect body shape, while 47% of girls have reported that the pictures make them want to lose weight (“Eating Disorder Statistics”). These girls demonstrate how powerful the media is, and how emotionally damaging photo editing can be. Social media and magazines allow girls to see a variety of heavily edited photos, and as a result, they feel the need to change themselves to meet these beauty standards. Even the toys pushed on young girls are teaching them that they must be curvy and thin to be beautiful. Barbie dolls are hugely impactful on the brains of children, especially girls. Similarly, the images shown in the media portray “real” women who are shaped like Barbie dolls. For an average 22 year old woman with a weight of a 125 pounds to fit this Barbie image, she...
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