Body Image in the Media and Its Affect on Growing Girls

The ideal body type is glorified in the our country’s media… All we see if tall, toned, fit, and THIN. It is becoming more apparent that these glorified and seemingly “normal” body types are affecting the way our society’s youth perceive themselves. So many young girls are turning to unhealthy eating disorders to change their images to get the “perfect” body type that they see all around them. As many as 24 million people in the United States of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder; 95% are between the ages of 12 and 26.

This problem is especially prominent from magazines. In all magazines, girls are seeing tall, big breasted, extremely thin women who look “beautiful” from the team of makeup and hair artists that have been working on these women. Not to mention, the camera equipment and computers that are used to photo shop these models after being all done-up. A study found that adolescents described the “the ‘ideal’ girl as being 5’7”, 100 pounds, size 5, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. There is no way everyone has these unattainable body sizes and proportions.

The problem lies in the fact that young girls believe that from having these perfect bodies, that social, personal and professional success will come from it. This just increases the motivation to try and attain these impossible body sizes.

Analyses of teen responses indicate that after seeing images of this glorified, thin body type, 47% of adolescent viewers want to lose weight.Girls who frequently read about diets in magazines are seven times more likely to practice unhealthy weight control behaviors and are six times more likely to engage in extreme unhealthy weight control behaviors than girls who don’t read these magazines.

And this exposure to the media is not stopping – its growing. The number and availability of magazine articles aimed at adolescent females have continually been increasing in recent years. It has been that estimated more than $175 billion annually have been spent on these magazines by 33 billion twelve-to-nineteen-year-olds, thus indicating the extensive amount of adolescent media exposure.

And not to mention all the other forms of media that are being brought to these young girls as they grow up today.

All of these norms established by the media, along with the large amounts of exposure, are leading to unhealthy practices in today’s youth. A study revealed that adolescents who “read girls’ magazines had a doubled risk of developing an eating disorder.

SO what is our world going to do about it? We need to start making a change to this perfect body image that is all over, to normal people, in order to help people see that each person is unique for their own qualities and doesn’t have to be 100 pounds to be beautiful.

If we don’t put a stop to some of the media’s uses of these images, our youth is going to grow up with the wrong unhealthy mindset.

-The information from this came from a paper I wrote on the dissatisfaction of body type among adolescents. My sources include:

1. “Eating Disorder Statistics.” ANAD. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and       Associated Disorders, Inc., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2013. <http://www.anad.org/ge        information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/>.

2. Jordi Fauquet, et al. “Influence Of Mass Media On Body Image And Eating Disordered

            Attitudes And Behaviors In Females: A Review Of Effects And Processes.”

            Media Psychology 13.4 (2010): 387-416. PsycINFO. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.

3. Levine, Michael P. “Mass Media And Body Image: A Brief Review Of The Research.”

            Healthy Weight Journal 14.6 (2000): 84. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20

            Feb. 2013.

4. Strasburger, Victor C., Barbara J. Wilson, and Amy J. Jordan. Children, Adolescents,

            and the Media. 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, 2009. Print.

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