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Body Image Vs. Media

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Category: Social Issues

Autor: anton 17 December 2010

Words: 1863 | Pages: 8

Body Image vs. Media

Perfection is the ultimate addiction, in the eyes of the media. Body image is a problem that women and even men have been struggling with for as long as the media has been around. The media constantly puts pressure on young men and women brainwashing them into thinking that the ideal body image for women is small and slim and the ideal image for men is muscular. The media uses interesting standards to define beauty. There are different aspects to beauty that a lot of times, the media does not exhibit. For instance true beauty comes through dignity and character, not necessarily through how a person looks. Nevertheless, there is no denying that ads do affect some of us. Women and young girls all around the world are suffering from eating disorders because they are dying to have the perfect bodies, like supermodels. Flip through a few pages of a magazine and you will surly come across seductive looking models. Turning on your television you can find shows that gladly promote skinny people. Music videos are filled with scandalous women dancing seductively. There is no denying that the media does not promote healthy, realistic physical role models for young men and women.

“ Perfection- It’s classified in medical journals as the extreme need to be more perfect than is humanly possible. My perfection resulted in a four-decades- long struggle for sanity, starting with my childhood and zooming in on my long nights and days of model-mania”. ( Janis Dickinson )

Perception of reality can easily get distorted through exposure of certain ideas. The media has only one way of thinking and one way only, and that is, the sexier the better and the thinner even more better.

“Unrealistic thin woman are often used in advertisements for everything from soft drinks to cars. Previous research has already shown that such advertising contributes to negative body images among young girls and women.”( On going exposure to thin women, will only distort the meaning of a “real woman”. This is the image America is selling and we’re buying as a lifestyle. The way advertisers choose “advertise” the ideal body image has been in the media longer than we think. In 1958 an advertisement in Life magazine proposed the idea that weight, like acne, was a psychological issue for girls, even for those as young as 6. The parents of the overweight child were provided with expert advice about how to deal with the mockery that fat girls often received.

On the contrary, others fight to believe media does not influence men and women to look a certain way. Instead of putting the blame on media, they blame the environment one grew up in, nature and nurture. Your family and how you were raised puts a lot on a person’s self esteem, and is how most of a person’s self esteem is either brought up or brought down. Although companies use skinny models for imagery, it is debatable whether a person is affected by it. It all depends on how confident a person is with themselves. Another factor that has been studied upon that affects whether or not a person is influenced by an ad, is your race and gender. African Americans were demonstrated to have the higher level of body satisfaction, as compared to White and Latino women.

“Proponents of the family perspective theory observe that the family is a primary mediator of cultural norms and values. Accordingly, the extent to which the family communicates the cultural ideal to its members, and the manner in which this message is conveyed and interpreted, strongly impacts the formation of a body image” (Walsh, 1993; Keel, Heatherton, & Harnden, 1997; Haeworth-Hoettner, 2000)

The Females in comparison to males were also more likely to be affected by an ad. The media does so much work to a model’s picture after he/she is done posing for an ad that it sometimes even looks like another person when finished. With that being said, however the media decides to portray a model, it should never be taken seriously.

Although your up-bringing might be the stem to negative body image; it’s the medias job to present flawless models. Along with these photos of flawless models, comes unsatisfied viewers like me and you, who wonder is my body good enough? Why can’t I look like THAT? In addition, the affects of the media lead to greater risks. These risks include eating disorders and depression. As females, we have to look a little deeper down and ask yourself who you really are, and be your real self. If we do not minimize the public’s expectations of “true beauty”, we are at risk of psychological disaster.

Young girls who look up to Supermodels strive to be just like them. It is no surprise when we see women starving themselves to perfection. If you take a glimpse on the other side of the lens, you will see a young Supermodel struggling . Janis Dickinson, the world’s first supermodel, explains it all in her book “Everything About Me Is Fake, and I’m Perfect” . “It is a life of pain, drugs, barfing, and near – death experiences”, Janis explains. Janis continues to say:

“As the first of my kind, I think it is my duty to tell you there is absolutely no way you can look like a supermodel in real life- unless your real life comes equipped with a stylist, a hair and makeup team, a clothing allowance, perfect lighting, and zero humidity. You must also move to a climate where it never rains, so your flat- ironed hair won’t bend like it’s giving you the finger”. ( pg 19)

The pressure to maintain a good figure for models is quite strenuous. Their whole career revolves around maintaining not just good, but a great figure. The life of a Supermodel is depressing; it doesn’t have to be though. Until the photographers of the media stop promoting unhealthy images of models, Supermodels can then live care-free.

As a key component to products being sold, photographers believe that Sex sells. In a survey that I personally conducted I asked 5 males and 5 females, whether or not erotic imagery of in-shape men/women in advertisements affected them in any way. My results proved that the women were not intrigued by the advertisement, compared to the men. The media will go as far as this to capture your attention so that you can read the words. Sex has always been a hot topic , so using sexy images of models in the eyes of the media, is a must. Soon we will come to the conclusion that sex does not sell, it is only lack of creativity and it will soon become a myth.

“Technology has brought us many [good things], but also problems. Beauty is subject to its magical touch-ups. What we see on magazine covers as the model of beauty isn’t real. I think that’s very damaging. Celebrities feel this pressure too. A few years ago, I considered [cosmetic] surgery.”(Pop singer Shakira , Teen People, May 2006, p. 54.)

Everything you see, whether it’s an ad or a magazine, is all fake. This is called the power of airbrushing. What a paintbrush is to a painter, is what airbrushing is to a photographer. Airbrushing can transform a model within seconds.

“As reported by Scott Schild, Sports Illustrated 2006 summer photo intern, in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition, six images on average are used to make up one image of a model. Every feature, even the eyes, is idealized. If the model with the best body does not have the best smile, someone else's mouth will be placed, via Photoshop, into the final image”. ( Lexis Nexis doc. 19 )

The invention of airbrushing is like a miracle for some models, but sometimes it can be rather depressing. Models give their all in photo shoots, and go on a barley- eating diet a week before the shoot, only to see the magazine in stands and have the picture look nothing like them do to the power of airbrushing . It is one of the many key components in making commercials/ ads effective.

A century ago, you would never see what we see now. Everyone was conservative and you would not see a man or woman literally dying over great bodies that they saw in the media. Sure, everyone envies great bodies even if you did live in the 19th century. But what we don’t know is that the ideal image of the 19th century was inner beauty; a focus on good deeds and a good heart. Today in America, women have more personal freedom and choices than ever before, but yet many are still dissatisfied with their bodies and begin a pattern of weight obsession. Living in a women’s body in the 20th century is a lot more complicated then it ever was a century ago.

“Before World War I, girls rarely mentioned their bodies in terms or strategies for self improvement or struggles for personal identity. Becoming a better person meant paying less attention to the self, giving more assistance to others, and putting more effort into instructive reading or lessons in school. When girls in the 20th century thought about ways to improve themselves, they almost always focused on their internal character and how it was reflected in outward behavior.” (Joan Jacobs Brumberg pg 6) As time progressed , so did the vision of perfect bodies.

Many women seen in the media are either young or white, and excludes people with disabilities. Our image of the typical perfect American girl is 5’9 , 110 lbs , and blonde. Beauty comes in different shapes, forms, and colors so why not advertise the black sheep? “Black women don't have the same body image problems as white women. They are proud of their bodies. Black men love big butts.”(Tyra Banks) The definition of beauty changes with every new supermodel, but we have yet to see a change .

In a recent Dove campaign, various “real women” are stripped down their whites. The campaign is for Dove’s new line of firming products, showing off women black and white, with curves. Airbrushes were thrown out the window for this ad, meaning no retouching was done at all . This idea was a brilliant idea to give curvy women more exposure and spotlight. The ad was defiantly a real attention grabber. Dove’s approach was simple: you simply can’t sell a beauty product without acknowledging some of the many insecurities of women. The Dove ladies all ranged from sizes 4 to 12, and were discovered all over the country.

Bottom line : don’t kill your self just because you don’t look like jumped off the glossy pages of Cosmo. The inside look of what really goes on behind the scenes isn’t so glamorous. Just like how one envious fan of a model dies to be just like her, the model suffers even worse dying to look perfect. With time, we will embrace true beauty with more of “real women” including the black sheep that the media fails to recognize.

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