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The Effect Of Media On Body Image In Teenagers

1197 words - 5 pages

The way one perceives his or her own physical appearance is known as body image. This positive or negative connotation is determined by what he or she sees in the mirror everyday, depending on personal feelings about height, weight, and body type (Kramer). According to Gerri Freid Kramer, “Many teenagers center a large part of their self-image on the way their body looks.” The main reason behind this is because today’s society creates a high pressure to be “perfect” by having ideal traits, such as good grades, attractive features, high athletic ability, and popularity among friends (Kramer). The image of a perfect body is constantly changing from place to place, and time period to time period. Today, “the average size of the idealized woman (as portrayed by models), has stabilized at 13-19% below healthy weight” (qtd. in “body image”). Inspired by many idols in media, this ideal body type is characterized by a large chest and a minuscule waist with “twig” like arms and legs. This unhealthy body image has created dissatisfaction with many teenagers’ bodies (Smolin). Despite the fact that society has begun to accept a “healthier” body type as an ideal body image, mass media continues to create negative views on teenagers’ body image by heightening body dissatisfaction, causing eating disorders, and creating a heavy obsession with looks and weight.
Beauty standards have been and continue to be a growing part in all societies. Depending on the ideal image of each society, these beauty standards have a tendency to be somewhat narrow. The idea of a perfect image began as early as the 10th century in China. Women’s feet were expected to be a shoe size of only four inches, or else they were considered not marriageable. To abide by these lofty expectations, women would unhealthily bind their feet to make them smaller. (Sherrow). Recently, positive body image has begun to decline in teenagers, especially girls. The perfect body image for a more “fit” body began in the 1920s, with the first “Miss America Pageant” held in 1921 (“Body Image: Timeline”). This relatively healthy body image continued to slim down in the 1950s, when society's “perfect” measurements for a woman were a 36-inch bust, 24-inch waist, and 36-inch hips (Sherrow). Victoria Sherrow claims, “Some observers believe this trend began in the late 1960s when an English teenager nicknamed Twiggy (who, at 5'7”, weighed about 90 pounds) became a popular model.” Since then, the current “perfect body” is centered on thinness. When a person is considered thin, they are deemed as energetic and healthy, while overweight people are considered lazy (Kramer).
People of all ages are affected by how the media portrays body image, teenagers in particular. Gender wise, teenage girls are more harshly affected than teenage boys (Sherrow). Garner states “89% of women in a study of 3,452 women wanted to lose weight” (qtd. in “body image”). Studies show that teenage girls have increased negative body image as...

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