Modern society is extremely judgmental towards women in all aspects. A predominant element in which women are either criticized or praised is their body. Our society strives for perfection, and this affects women especially teenage girls. Fitness magazines, clothing lines and dietary supplements push women to the edge when it comes to achieving the ideal size for their body, not taking into account the costs at hand.
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Certain physical appearance is promoted by modern popular culture, and mate preferences are also based on such looks most of the time. The purpose of this piece is to explain this problem and provide information that will prove that these issues affect young females and their perception of their bodies.
Mass Media and Body Image
It is important to research recent peer-reviewed articles and literature to understand the core of this problem. The behaviour that is currently displayed by women is not natural, and it has been developed over many years under an influence of mass media, and they should not be blamed. Choate states that “all girls and women are exposed, to some extent, to sociocultural pressures for thinness and beauty” (321-322). In other words, numerous factors affect and influence thoughts of young women.
The development of diet disorders and overall unhealthy eating behaviour are especially dangerous and questionable for teenage girls, and may lead to severe health problems. The amount of time that is spent by women on this issue is truly astounding. It could be spent on activities that are much more engaging. The images that are shown in all forms of mass media promote an idea that someone should look exactly like this, and people are not the same as others if their appearance slightly differs (Willett 8).
A recent research has indicated that women who were introduced to principles of feminism are now satisfied with their physical appearance much more than they used to be (Peterson, Tantleff-Dunn, and Bedwell 245). Wykes and Gunter state that “despite the early observations of cross-cultural differences in body shape ideals, evidence has begun to emerge that Western-style concerns about shape occur in non-Western populations” (7).
Differently put, the impact of mass media is so tremendous that it also affects people in other countries. Women in most regions of the world feel like they are forced to look like magazine models by modern society (Kaili 1247). Also, another research has indicated that women think of body image as not a constant idea because it changes all the time and is affected by numerous internal and external factors (Paquette and Kim Raine 1056).
The fact that mate-selection also follows such tendencies is also worrying, and critique of physical appearance by potential sexual partners may be very traumatizing. It is also complicated by various gender issues that are present in modern society. Most young women have problems with their confidence, and they are easily influenced by others. A research has shown that males are less likely to go on a date with women that have a slightly bigger weight than promoted by media (Geertjan et al. 1169).
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It is interesting that this situation was most likely worsened by beauty and style industries that have learned to abuse this fact. Constant promotion of tools that can be used to make one more beautiful has affected the mentality of women. It is understandable that females want to attract mates. However, some of the cosmetics are even toxic and harmful to the skin, but they are still being sold and promoted.
These industries earn astounding amounts of money, and they are not worried about the well-being of females at all. Nevertheless, it should be said that media is also used as a tool of fighting with this problem. Numerous advertisements and documentaries address this issue, and some of them are very inspirational and thought-provoking (Conway 30). However, it can be seen that their impact is rather not that significant at this time.
In my opinion, this is a gigantic issue that has been affecting our society for a long time. The perception of oneself is an interesting topic that has been studied by many scientists. It is important for a woman to have a positive view of herself to lead a healthy lifestyle. Constant bad thoughts distract any individual and may result in such complications as social anxiety and depression. As a consequence, it is hard for young females to be happy when they are worried about their appearance most of the time.
It is imperative to understand that various factors impact ladies at this age, and it is not an easy task to overcome such difficulties as being bullied and laughed at as a teenager. It is not hard to understand that one wants to be liked by others and desires to be attractive. One could try to escape from such problems by reading novels and watching movies.
However, the same ideas about beauty are also shown there, and it is a problem. There is no surprise that teenagers want to resemble their favourite characters and celebrities that are shown in modern media. However, it is a problem if they start to hate their bodies and themselves. Overall, it should not be said that it is only a fault of mass media. Our society needs to change and be more acceptable of different looks.
There are various ways in which this issue may be solved. For example, it is necessary to educate people about such ideologies as feminism and size acceptance because they promote what is truly significant for women and have dramatically different views on the physical appearance. The fact that the government does not address this problem or does not consider it as important is a colossal issue. However, it should because the safety and well-being of the citizens should be of utmost importance, and necessary measures should be taken.
There should be some policies that would regulate the advertisements that promote unhealthy eating disorders like bulimia. Anorexia is also dangerous and is a cause of numerous deaths. Furman and Shomaker found that “exposure to conversational interactions that provide positive encouragement about body image increased body image satisfaction and positive emotions” (886).
This means that it is not too late to change the current situation. Overall, this is a huge issue, and it definitely affects the self-esteem of many women and may cause psychological issues if not addressed (Kaili 1241). It is hard to solve this problem because most women have accepted this situation. It is especially worrying that it is believed that it will not change anytime soon.
In conclusion, it is evident that mass media has a negative impact on the body image of young women. This issue is often discussed, but it is not enough because it can lead to such complications as psychological problems. Individuals that suffer because of this issue the most should be provided with help. It is imperative that there are some attempts to address and solve this situation.
However, most of them are currently not as successful as expected. Nevertheless, the situation can be improved, and there are some solutions. It may take a quite long time, but young women around the world should be educated on this problem and must be thought to accept themselves the way they are.
Choate, Laura H.. “Toward a Theoretical Model of Women’s Body Image Resilience.” Journal of Counseling & Development 83.3 (2005): 320-330. Print.
Conway, Celeste. Body Image and the Media. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO Pub., 2013. Print.
Furman, Wyndol, and Lauren B. Shomaker. “Same-Sex Peers’ Influence on Young Women’s Body Image: An Experimental Manipulation.” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 26.8 (2007): 871-895. Print.
Geertjan, Overbeek, Nelemans Stefanie, Karremans Johan, and Engels Rutger. “The Malleability of Mate Selection in Speed-Dating Events.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 42.7 (2013): 1163-1171. Print.
Kaili, Zhang. “What I Look Like: College Women, Body Image, and Spirituality.” Journal of Religion and Health 52.4 (2013): 1240-1252. Print.
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Paquette, Marie-Claude, and Kim Raine. “Sociocultural context of women’s body image.” Social Science & Medicine 59.5 (2004): 1047-1058. Print.
Peterson, Rachel D., Stacey Tantleff-Dunn, and Jeffrey S. Bedwell. “The effects of exposure to feminist ideology on women’s body image.” Body Image 3.3 (2006): 237-246. Print.
Willett, Edward. Negative Body Image. New York, NY: Rosen Pub., 2007. Print.
Wykes, Maggie, and Barrie Gunter. The Media and Body Image: If Looks Could Kill. London, United Kingdom: Sage Pub., 2005. Print.