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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Media Influence

The Real Truth About Beauty Campaign states that only 13% of women in society today are satisfied with their body weight and image. That is a small percentage to be happy with the skin they are in.  Much of the issues women are faced with today are constant media representations of unrealistic body and beauty standards, which women of all ages measure themselves against. The social pressures to achieve that look are apparent in print and media journalism. In most women’s magazine there is a diet ad.  On almost all television shows there are stick-thin actresses. And in every tabloid, there is the constant weight loss or weight gain comparison among celebrities.  This damage the media is causing, results in young girls developing poor eating habits or even eating disorders in order to emulate those images the media is setting for them.

  The issue of today’s media portraying unrealistic body images causes substantial intrapersonal difficulties in the minds of young girls. As a result of this negative influence, the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology show that “Teen-age girls who viewed commercials depicting women who modeled the unrealistically thin-ideal type of beauty caused adolescent girls to feel less confident, more angry and more dissatisfied with their weight and appearance.” The communication they are exposing to their viewers and readers is the image to be “skinny”, which is considered the only form of beauty. The context of this problem is the print media of “women’s magazines” as well as the televised media.  The celebrities and supposed role models are the starving victims who are sending a message to young girls across the world that it is “ok” to go hungry in order to look acceptable.

            The actual problem is that women are being influence to buy beauty, diet products and any other means in order to copy these women within the spotlight. This is a negative form of communication because the consequences of diet pills or starvation result in health issues and even death. The Common Sense Media stated online, “In 2003, Teen magazine reported that 35 percent of girls 6 to 12 years old have been on at least one diet, and that 50 to 70 percent of normal weight girls believe they are overweight.” This horrifying fact should force the industry to take a step back and realize that girls between those ages are being highly influenced and have started to ruin their bodies before they even graduate from 8th grade.

            Some may argue that peers and parents may influence the pressures of this sociocultural ideal; however, the media communication is the ultimate source of the problem. It is difficult to flip through the pages of a magazine without being bombarded with diet pill advertisements, or even reading the cover of a current issue of Life & Style, where three beautifully portrayed celebrities are accused of not eating. Nonetheless, it is deceiving because these three women look beautiful in their ball gowns and their hair flawlessly curled.  These celebrities may have an eating disorder, but the pictures the magazine prints, makes them look ideal and glamorous.

            According to Levine and Smolak’s research, “83% of girls report spending a mean of 4.3 hours a week reading magazines for pleasure or school.” The print media advocates for such unrealistic body images and with that statistic, it is scary to think that young girls spend the majority of their time focused on reading magazines that may affect their habitual lifestyle from here on out. From the beginning however, young girls have been surrounded by this ideal image of a woman and what beauty is.  Even Mattel, the makers of Barbie, impact the minds of young girls.  With her impractical body proportions, girls retain that image and try to emulate her extremely small waist size and “perfected” proportions.  It is unclear as to why girls compare themselves to the models and celebrities in the media; however, with advertisements of diet pills and “ways to get skinny” messages, society cannot escape this harmful message. 

Girls are in a real danger and few people are taking notice of this concern. Girls are trying to look like their pop idols on TV and will go to any length to accomplish that.  Studies have shown, according to SADD Statistics, that “Nationwide 12.3% of high school students had gone without eating for 24 hours or more to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight during the last 30 days.” How is this going unnoticed in our society? We have plenty of information on how Nicole Riche became increasingly smaller as the months past, why is society not noticing the consequences it is having on young girls who read these magazines and watch the networked TV?  Interestingly enough, the Journal of Social Issues reported that restrictive dieting and eating, relating to body imaging, could be attributed to the specific types of programming girl’s watch on TV. Therefore, it can be said, that not all types of media influences the body conscious of young girls, but much can be attributed to the specific shows—most popular are the soap operas and music videos.  The attractive women that continually show up on these shows impact these young viewers every day of their lives.  It is inevitable.

            In my opinion, I feel that this is a large issue in our society. The constant “diet” ads in each magazine girls pick up influences them in one way or another.  It may not result in bulimia or anorexia; however, it does mold a so-called “correct” image of beauty in their minds.



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