My sister is eleven, and is slightly overweight. Up until a year ago she never had a problem with her body image, she was content with the way that she looked. However, recently she has brought up questions regarding her weight and if she looks okay. It has become evident that she is no longer okay with her body, and her self-image. Over the past year her Internet and television use has dramatically gone up, and her self-esteem has equally gone down. The ads shown in media portray women in a way that my sister, along with many adolescent girls, cannot identify with; they draw from stereotypical understandings, and fail to represent healthy girls. The media, and lack of sexual education for kids, ultimately leads to eating disorders, self-objectification, and other unhealthy habits.
Advertisements are everywhere. Companies try to sell us products on platforms ranging from electronic sources like the television and Facebook, to the sides of busses, and posters sprawled out on buildings. Although meant to sell products, advertisements have a much larger impact. Advertisements sell values, images, concepts of love and sexuality, success and normalcy. The advertisements that we see everyday have a negative effect on our society, especially on impressionable adolescents. They affect kids who are coming of age, trying to weave themselves through the world and figure out what is morally right and what is not.
Since advertisements are so impressionable it is important to ask, what do they say about women? They send the same message as always, that a women’s social value comes from her physical appearance. Advertisements pollute the media with images of the ideal women, of feminine beauty. Girls learn from a young age that they must spent an exuberant amount of time, effort, energy and money to achieve “the look,” to be what “every man wants.” Due to their impressionable nature, they feel that they need to be unhealthily thin, to not have any scars, wrinkles, perfect hair and unwrinkled skin, and when they fail to meet this unrealistic standard, they feel ashamed and guilty. Girls are pressured at increasingly younger ages to be thin. In her piece New Recruits For The Cult Of Thinness, Sharlene Hagy states “Eating disorders are increasing in the United States. They are no longer confines to a particular class, or ethnic group, and are affecting females at younger ages” (Hagy, 188). Girls are striving to meet the expectations of thinness that these ads portray, even if it’s through unhealthy means, such as anorexia and bulimia.
One young woman that Hagy interviewed told her “Magazines were the big thing, especially in the teen years. They were always articles talking about how to become thinner and sexier and how to attract the opposite sex” (Hagy, 190). Media rarely every show models fully clothed. They are often displayed in underwear, swimsuits, or incredibly revealing outfits. They are time and time again objectified, and told that if they don’t...