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Media’s Impact On Beauty And Body Image Of Young Girls

1975 words - 8 pages

It’s difficult to envision a world where idealized representations of females do not exist. However, before the creation of the mass media, our ideas of beauty were restricted to our own communities in which we live. When photography was introduced in 1839, real-life images of faces and bodies were not exposed to society. The likelihood of someone owning a mirror during that time was very rare. Today, however, one is considered odd if they do not own a mirror. Today we look for any excuse to look in the mirror as we have become more obsessed with our appearance than ever before. Given society’s standards, it is only natural to have some concern about appearance, but many people take the concern to far. According to Jane Kilborne, “Every period of history has had its own standards of what is and is not beautiful, and every contemporary society has its own distinctive concept of the ideal physical attributes.’” In the 19th century being beautiful meant wearing a corset – causing breathing and digestive problems.” (Kilborne 2002) Although we resemble our ancestors and other cultures in our concern about appearance, our amount of concern is much greater. Because technology is advancing rapidly, the exposure to the standards set by the media is easily available. What was once a normal concern has escalated into an obsession. Women are continually bombarded with images of the 'ideal' face and figure. Researchers suggest that “constant exposure to idealized images of female beauty on TV, magazines and billboards makes exceptional good looks seem normal and anything short of perfection seem abnormal and ugly.”(Beauty 2009) “It has been estimated that young women now see more images of outstandingly beautiful women in one day than our mothers saw throughout their entire adolescence.” (Mintz 2007) Today it is impossible not to believe in the ‘what is beautiful is good' stereotype because many times “physically attractive people possess other desirable characteristics such as intelligence, competence, social skills, confidence – even moral virtue.” (Heubeck 2006) In order to achieve and maintain the ideal body image portrayed by the media, we turn to diet, exercise, and surgery. Even though diet and exercise to some degree can be a healthy practice for some people, many only partake in the practice to achieve the ideal figure. For many young people, especially girls, the ideal continues to chase them as they grow into young women. Young girls begin to internalize the stereotypes and judge themselves by media’s impossible standards. The power that the media holds in impacting the lives of young girls is detrimental and eventually affects their body image, their satisfaction of their own body, and portrayal of their body as an object.
Researchers have discovered that “ongoing exposure to certain ideas can shape and distort our perceptions on reality.” (Mintz 2007) Because young girls are subjected to a constant display of beautiful people in the...

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