Medias Influence on Adolescent Girls Body Image, Identity and Sexuality
Gender Identity begins in early childhood when roles are given to children as to which toys they should play or not play with. A child's body image is influenced by how people around her react to her body and how she looks. A pre-adolescent becomes more aware of what society's standards are for the ideal body. The media has always had images of what the ideal woman should be. As in the way she should look and the way she acts. The media today does and doesn't always depict what is good for an adolescent or pre-adolescent to believe about themselves. There are also many good influences from the media. Role models such as Oprah and Ricki Lake have given many adolescents more of an ideal individuality to strive for.
Young girls look at their images in the mirror and don't like what they see. Does this sound right? Girls as young as nine years old report dissatisfaction with their bodies. Girls tend to struggle with body image in far greater numbers than boys. Boys don't focus as much on their body shape and size as do girls. Some attention to body size and shape is part of the normal growing process. As children reach adolescence their bodies change and children especially young girls become more aware of how they look. Some of these feelings are normal. But when a girls life is affected by her thinking about her looks it turns into a problem. Avoidance and Isolation are signs of a problem beginning. Being positive and having healthy relationships help girls maintain positive body images. The ability to talk to someone, whether it be a parent or friend or coach, can help reinforce healthy body images. Self esteem is the key component to a healthy body image. For the most part if a girl displays confidence and personal control, the likelihood of a positive body image is greater.
The four top selling magazines with a target audience of teen females are Seventeen, Sassy, Teen and YM. "In similar fashion, magazine and book reading gradually increase during adolescence. Approximately one-third of high school juniors and senior say that they read magazines daily."(Textbook) These magazines often show positive and negative images of young and older women. They are often times covered with young women who look "perfect". These girls are being exposed to unrealistic images of women. The social pressure on females to achieve a nearly impossible thinness is constantly being reinforced by female images portrayed in the media and advertising. It's almost impossible to ignore the many images of thin beautiful women. When turning the pages of a popular magazine, women are being invited by the ads and spreads to look a certain way, thin. What girls don't see is that the average size of women today is a size 16 not a 6. Models look beautiful for a reason. They have hair stylists, makeup artists, wardrobe people, and skin care specialists to make them look that way. Besides that they have the best photographers in the world. Beauty and fashion ads don't just sell a product they sell a lifestyle. Many adolescents can be influenced to have a positive body image despite all of the negative media influences. Many magazines designed especially for adolescent girls, such as American Girl, focus on positive outlooks on the young girl's lifestyle. American Girl Magazine says "Girls in this age group are more curious about the world than ever before. They're beginning to consider the impact they can have on the people around them, on the environment, and on their future. All the while, they're undergoing profound biological changes. Adolescent girls are entering one of the most challenging and complex phases of her life so far. Our advice titles include expert guidance on serious topics, such as The Care & Keeping of You and Staying Home Alone. In its eleventh year, American Girl magazine continues to offer articles, activities, and...
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