Throughout history, the female form has always been a prevalent source of artistic muse. The introduction of the modern photographic camera allowed the objectification of women to increase exponentially. In today’s society, women of all ages struggle to exemplify what is perceived as the ideal female form. Studies show that women – beginning in their mid-teen years – experience a steady degeneration of self-esteem relative to the level of dissatisfaction with their internal body image. The decline of self-image in women can be directly linked to several contributing factors including: film and print advertising, social media, and the early exposure of adolescent girls to overly-sexualized products and media.
“Sex sells” is an aphorism closely adhered to by both the film and print advertising industries. For over a century, magazines, newspapers, film, and other advertising mediums have utilized women and sexuality to persuasively market their products to consumers (Reichert, 2003). By representing an assortment of consumer products surrounded by women who exemplify a “desired” body type, marketing specialists quickly discovered the direct correlation between sexuality and consumer buying. So why is using beauty and sexuality as a marketing gimmick so harmful? With women being the primary audience of both general interest and consumer product magazines there is constant exposure to the idealistic body image that advertisers and mass media believe women should adhere to.
What is considered to be the ideal body shape in current trends is rapidly becoming more and more unattainable by the average individual. The false body shapes created by using photographic manipulation software, airbrushing, special lighting effects, surgical alterations, and underweight models contribute to the rapid decline in women’s self-image. Media outlets often portray that self-worth should be based on an individual’s appearance. According to one study, women in media are often found to be 20% underweight (Spitzer, Henderson, & Zivian, 1999), which according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) exceeds the diagnosis criteria for anorexia nervosa by an additional 5%. The body image being portrayed by the media is detrimental to a woman’s self-image by being both dangerous to personal health and unreachable due to the fictitious nature of the body image presentation.
With the growing popularity of social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, the self-image of women is being adversely affected on a more personal level. While social media does allow for individuals to reconnect with each other, social media addiction has become common place in today’s society. Studies show that women have a higher probability of becoming addicted to social media sites than their male counterparts. Women who spend a large amount of time browsing social media websites are now being inundated...