Body Image in the Media

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How does the media influence our body image? In what forms, does the media influence our perceptions about our body? These were the two questions that I asked myself in order to do the research paper and the panel discussion. In my opinion, I would agree that the media does influence and promote women and men to believe that the culture's standards for body image are ideal. Hence, the phrases, "thin is in" and "the perfect body" are two examples of "eye-catching" headlines that I observed in many women magazines. I learned that the media influences us through television, fashion and health magazines, music videos, film, commercials, and various other advertisements. Sadly, as a result, this repeated exposure, the "thin" ideal, can lead many young girls in triggering eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem, stress, and suicide. After acquiring this relevant information, I decided to focus my research on what type of media influences elementary school children and the adolescent teenager. The three central types of media that I found that did indeed influence body image are: Fashion magazines, famous top-models and actresses, and teenage or young adult women in the music industry. According to the Seretean Center for Health Promotion, " the term, "body image" has been coined to describe a person's inner sense of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the physical appearance of her/his body." (From The Wellness Column, April 1, 1996.) In my research, I found that many young girls are dissatisfied with their bodies and many "strive" to look like the "waif-thin" models or actresses one sees on television or in fashion magazines. There was a lot of information and facts on body and image that I found on the Internet. However, one website, Just Think Foundation, supported my belief that the media, magazines in particular, do indeed influence young girls to be "thin" in order to be popular and beautiful in our society. For example, I was in alarmed to learn that "eighty percent of 10-year-old American girls diet; more than five million Americans suffer from eating disorders and ninety percent of those are adolescent and young adult women; the number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner; and between elementary and high school, the percentage of girls in the U.S. who are "happy with the way I am" drops from 60% to 29%.

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