The Effects of the Media on Body Image
The pressure to be thin has amplified significantly due to the growing influence of the media. Despite numerous of other factors that contribute to society's view of the ideal body image, the media by far has the largest influence on society through icons that constantly reinforce unrealistic beauty standards and idealize the thin.
The media persistently glamorizes the extremely skinny, which greatly impacts how society views different body types. Pictures of impossibly thin models are continuously pasted all over billboards and magazines. The skinny are looked up to, and the obese are shunned. Popular television shows that include overweight characters depict them either as comical outcasts or failures. There is also an abundance of television programs that focus solely on overweight individuals attempting to lose weight. For instance, The Biggest Loser is a very successful television series and publishing enterprise which selects participants based on body size. According to John Whyte, MD, in "Media Portrayal of People Who are Obese," "The Biggest Loser promotes the perception that obesity is caused by individual failure rather than a mixture of individual, environment, and genetic sources." The popular television show also suggests that obese people are fat because they are lazy and that the only way for them to be respected and accepted is to lose the extra weight. These type of shows portray obesity in a certain way that promotes negative perceptions and fosters prejudice against the obese. Viewers don't consciously think about it, but the more they are around the media that subtly promotes these perceptions, the more likely the perceptions are to be engrained in their minds. Moreover, the high standards of beauty that the media implements daily are nearly impossible for the majority of people to meet. Even though the average American is at least slightly overweight or obese, popular media pushes out derogatory...
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