The Effects of Media on the Body-Image of Preadolescent Girls
Media is infamous for having a tremendous effect on teenage girls. The mass media have long been criticized for presenting unrealistic appearance ideals that contribute to the development of negative body image for many women and girls (Harrison & Hefner, 2006). Whether it’s the influence on their choice of friends, school, or their self image, media has played an important role in affecting those decisions. A growing number of experimental studies have demonstrated a causal link between acute exposure to "thin-ideal" images (i.e., images of impossibly thin and attractive female beauty) and increased body dissatisfaction (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2003). It has recently been brought up that media influences girls in preadolescence, which is highly likely since most young girls idolize Barbie (Rintala & Mustajoki, 1992). “Were Barbie a flesh-and-blood woman, her waist would be 39% smaller than that of anorexic patients, and her body weight would be so low that she would not be able to menstruate” (Rintala & Mustajoki, 1992). Most young girls wish that they could look like Barbie when they grew up, but if they knew the reality of having her measurements their perceptions would probably change. Children frequently fantasize about who they will be, what they will do, and how they will look when they grow into adulthood.
Advertisers use women that are abnormally thin, and even airbrush them to make them appear thinner. These advertisers promote a body image that is completely unrealistic and impossible to achieve (Dohnt & Tiggemann, 2006b). It has been instilled in these advertisers’ minds that a thinner model will sell more (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2003). Media has a direct and indirect influence on the developing body image of young girls. The direct influence is obvious stemming from the images that are portrayed to the young girls of thin celebrities. The indirect influence comes from the conversations that the young girls have with their friends about the thin celebrities (McCabeLina & Ridge, 2006). According to Dohnt and Tiggemann (2006a), young girls may engage in conversations with their friends about pop stars or models, thereby reinforcing media-presented societal messages of the thin ideal. Unfortunately, today’s society promotes that being thin will insure bliss in one’s everyday life. The National Eating Disorder Association stated that “The average woman wears a size 10; the average model a size 2.”
Many people think of body image as only a physical opinion of good looks and splendor. Body image is so much more than that. The body image of a person is related to their emotions, and if it is not a positive body image it can negatively affect their self-esteem (Nation Eating Disorder Association, 2006). An appropriate definition for body image is that it is what an individual sees when they look in the mirror. Body image can be influenced positively or negatively (Nation...