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

1640 words - 7 pages

It’s difficult to envision a world where idealized female imagery is not plastered everywhere, but our present circumstance is a relatively new occurrence. Before the mass media existed, our ideas of beauty were restricted to our own communities. Until the introduction of photography in 1839, people were not exposed to real-life images of faces and bodies. Most people did not even own mirrors. Today, however, we are more obsessed with our appearance than ever before. But the concern about appearance is quite normal and understandable given society’s standards. 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) Today we try to diet and exercise ourselves into the ideal shape – often with even more serious consequences. Although we resemble our ancestors and other cultures in our concern about appearance, there is a difference in degree of concern. Advances in technology and in particular the rise of the mass media have caused normal concerns about how we look to become obsessions. Women are continually bombarded with images of the 'ideal' face and figure. 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) We believe in the 'what is beautiful is good' stereotype – an irrational but deep-seated belief that physically attractive people possess other desirable characteristics such as intelligence, competence, social skills, confidence – even moral virtue. (Heubeck 2006) 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 media, they have developed a negative body image of themselves. Those who have a negative body image perceive their body as being unattractive or even hideous compared to others, while those with a positive body image will see themselves as attractive, or will at least accept themselves and be comfortable in their own skin. During adolescence, negative body image is...

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