The Media's Effect On Women's Body Image
Regardless of the era, women have always been pressured to look and behave a certain way. However, technology and the media have increased the exposure to body images like never before. On a daily basis, women of all shapes and sizes are dealing with many physical, mental and social consequences because of the media's body portrayals. Therefore, I decided to examine how our society is being affected on all aspects, while analyzing different solutions for the future of our women.
1. Every Body Is The Right Body
Body image can be defined by one’s negative or positive perception. The body shape, facial features and overall appearance influences one’s body image. In our society, the media holds a lot of power and control over women’s idea of a good body. The internalization of a fictitious body lowers women’s self-esteem, decreases their productivity and increases the chances of physiological problems, eating disorders and suicide. While white Americans continue to feel pressured by society’s beauty standards, minority groups are also affected by the media’s influence to have a thin figure. However, minority women have more difficulty trying to meet these expectations because all body shapes are different. “Minority Women, Media, and Body Image”, analyzes the effects of media on African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American women’s self-perception and body image. Even though African Americans have historically been judged for their physical appearance, they accepted their larger body type. However, recent studies outline how the influence of the media has led African Americans to think otherwise and have led African American’s to alter their body in hopes of attaining the ideal body image. Meanwhile, Hispanic women are exposed to more negative body images because they watch about four more hours of television, on a daily basis, than women in other ethnic groups. Therefore, Hispanic American women probably support the beauty industry because of their body dissatisfaction. On the other hand, the Asian community encourages women to attain realistic body images. Due to the fact that Asian American parents confront and communicate about the discrepancies, many Asian American women are not inclined to follow the media. However, different Asian studies contradict these findings and explain how Asian females are not satisfied with their facial features. All different kinds of women are trying to fit one specific body ideal and fail to highlight each other’s differences. By staying positive and focusing on yourself, women can hope to overcome these insecurities.
Martin, C.L. & Baugh, E.J. (2009). Minority Women, Media, and Body Image. University of Florida, IFAS Extension FCS2301.
2. Don’t Edit, You Might Regret It
3. Why Don’t I Look Like Her?
4. Why INSTA-ntly Compare?
According to the article, “Instagram and College Women's Body Image: Investigating the Roles of Appearance-Related Comparisons and Intrasexual Competition,” findings show that the rise of social networking sites, like Instagram, has allowed women to compare their appearances more with others. Social comparison theory is a theoretical framework that explains the negative effects of media exposure on body image. Basically, the theory suggests that it is natural for humans to compare themselves to others. This explains a biological process, in which the social comparison theory can be associated to female intrasexual competition. With that being said, in many civilizations women with feminine attributes had a higher chance of attracting a male and eventually mating. In this case, cosmetic surgeries or diets can be acknowledged as strategies that women use to find their mate. Women may compare themselves with other competitors throughout social networking sites, which can reinforce body image discrepancies. While upward social comparison focuses on individuals who compare themselves to someone superior, downward comparison can be defined when individuals compare themselves to someone inferior. That is, appearance-related comparisons are based on physical appearance. Once woman compare themselves to someone thinner, women may choose to engage in unhealthy behaviors. However, even though studies show that present-day women’s body sizes have increased over the last two decades, women still compare themselves to the unrealistic thin body ideal portrayed in the media. The relationship between body image concerns and appearance-related comparisons demonstrates the link to the desire for thinness and body dissatisfaction. Therefore, constantly comparing yourself to others, can lead to the development of serious eating disorders. Our society should focus on self-image, rather than spending our time analyzing others lives. It can get a lot easier, when we set time to reflect as an individual and member of the society. Comparing ourselves to others can only lead to negative effects. Why bring you or someone else, when you can just focus on staying healthy and positive?
Hendrickse, Joshua, Laura M. Arpan, Russell B. Clayton, and Jessica L. Ridgway. "Instagram and College Women's Body Image: Investigating the Roles of Appearance-related Comparisons and Intrasexual Competition." Computers in Human Behavior 74 (2017): 92. Web. 31 July 2017.
5. A Toxic Relationship With Food
As of today, our society is currently dealing with a national health disaster as the rates of obesity, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa continue to rise. The journal “Body Image, Media and Eating Disorders” explains that the reasons for this involve the interaction between the pressure to be thin, family eating habits, exercise patterns and excess of non-nutritious food. By examining the changing historical perspectives, the journal suggests different solutions for change. Throughout history, political climate and cultural influence have always shaped the public’s perception of the ideal female body type. During colonial times, women were expected to be physically strong to help with the land and household chores. In the 19th century, much focus was placed on tiny waists and female fragility with the invention of the corset. Conversely, at the beginning of the 20th century, the corset motivated the start of the feminist movement and a comfortable boyish-look became the trend. During World War II, women were encouraged to work because most men went overseas. Once the men came back, gender roles were enforced as women were highlighted for their fertility. Then, in the 1960s women were fighting for equality and recognizing sexual freedom. However, today’s culture revolves around what is on the media. Baywatch and Barbie’s physically impossible measurements inspires society to lose weight, which has led to disordered eating at a younger age. Eventually, diets and food restraints result in a repetitive pattern of self-deprivation, which can lead to bingeing and weight gain. While clinicians believe that the cause of eating disorders is dysfunctional family dynamics, beauty expectations, biological predisposition to mental disorders and social skills must be taken into consideration. Recent studies are proving that children with excessive media consumption are at risk of being obese, dealing with depression and a deteriorating self-image. With that being said, parents should feel responsible to encourage healthy lifestyles by having family dinners and providing the necessary nutrients. This can reinforce mental health and solidify the overall relationship and communication between parents and their children. Meanwhile, healthcare providers and the government should take preventive measures, rather than reactive ones. By forgetting about financial advantage and focusing on the future of our generations, media and advertising companies can achieve a positive outlook for females in our society.
Derenne, Jennifer L., and Eugene V. Beresin. "Body Image, Media, and Eating Disorders." Academic Psychiatry 30.3 (2006): 257-61. Web. 27 July 2017.