Media is known to have a lasting impact on children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. Media takes situations within society and distorts them. Children then see these distortions and accept them as the truth, changing the way they view and act within society. The gross impact of media on children can be seen through the beauty industry. Media is constantly trying to define the term “beauty” by using extremely thin and attractive models, stating it is the norm within society. Children who view these models’ attractiveness embrace this definition of beauty because they believe it is the truth. A children’s author, by the name of Robert Munsch, attempts to show the impact media has on children through his book, Makeup Mess (2001). The book centers on a pre-adolescent girl named Julie who saves up all of her money to go to the store and buy make up. Once she gets home, she runs upstairs and covers her face in make up. She looks in the mirror and believes that she looks beautiful. However, every time someone looks at her, they faint from shock at her appearance. She continues to try and make herself “beautiful” by putting all different kinds of make up on but no matter how hard she tries no one thinks that she is pretty, or so she thinks. Feeling defeated she goes to see her parents, without all her makeup on, and they walk up to her and tell her she is beautiful without any make up on.
Julie is entering the stage of her life, described by Eric Erikson, as identity vs. identity confusion. Here she is trying to figure out where she fits within society. Media plays a significant role in aiding children with discovering who they are, especially in females. As children grow older, they embrace hypothetical reasoning by using their imagination to see themselves in different societal roles (Kail & Barnfield, 2012, p. 365); the media influences most of these roles. The area of beauty and appearance is one part specifically where girls rely heavily on the media ‘s influence in order to create their imaginary role. Children use the ideal image of beauty that the media attempts to force on society to create their own identity, however, doing so negatively affects their self-esteem and self-perception. The following journal articles attempt to describe the way media impacts children’s self-esteem and self-perception while looking at ads that embrace the ideal image of beauty.
Journal Article Summary One
The first article, Stuck in the Model Trap: The Effects of Beautiful Models in Ads on Female Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents, by Mary C. Martin and James W. Gentry, discusses how attractive models featured in media ads affect children’s perception of themselves and their self-esteem. Martin and Gentry uses social comparison theory as a framework for examining the way children compare their physical attractiveness with the models found in media ads, otherwise known as the motive for comparison (Martin & Gentry,...