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The Media’s Effect On Adolescent Bodies

1771 words - 7 pages

The Media’s Effect on Adolescent Bodies

The stringent standard Barbie-doll proportions of body image and what is considered beautiful in today’s media has resulted in devastating effects on adolescent women. The images displayed of women who have long beautiful legs, thin waist lines and smooth flawless skin are very hard to ignore. Throughout history the female body has been on display as a selling tool to coerce people into buying that new fancy car or the latest new appliance that can make their everyday lives easier. Commercials of the extremely thin Kelly Ripa can act as a mantra of what a modern day picture perfect house wife should look like standing beside her magical ovens and washing machines. There are also constant ads on billboards, TV, magazines and in shopping malls of size zero girls in the latest fashion designs. The media can be applauded on its successful campaigns that have made young girls accustomed to striving to live up to the narrow, often uniform standards of what a beautiful girl should look like. Television shows like “Gossip Girl”, “Beverly Hills 90210” and movies like “Mean Girls” bombard young girls the media’s current trend of what is considered beautiful. Even at the tender ages between 3-to-10 years old, young girls are plagued by images in the media. These girls see fairy tale princesses like Disney’s’ (Ariel) The Little Mermaid, (Belle) from Beauty and The Beast, Cinderella and princess (Jasmine) Aladdin. They are all featured with very small waists and ideal symmetric facial features with very well proportioned curves that will surely catch the eye of any prince. These types of images are etched in the minds of girls when they are at a young age which leads them to turn to the media as a guide for what to consider beautiful. But these images have drastic effects on young girls, especially when they are looking to fashion and beauty magazines like “Vogue”, “Cosmopolitan” and “Life & Style” for the next trends. In her book The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf criticizes the media and its negative effects on women by stating that every woman should be allowed "the choice to do whatever we want with our faces and bodies without being punished by an ideology that is using attitudes, economic pressure, and even legal judgments regarding women's appearance to undermine us psychologically and politically" (10). Some of the most common negative effects that young girls are experiencing are physical, emotional, and social.

The physical effect s that the media has on a young girl’s overall beauty and body image are staggering. Many young girls put their bodies through painful physical transformations. They want to look just like their favorite celebrities or to fit into the latest fashion trends and appeal to the media’s idea of what the opposite sex wants them to look like. Willis’s The Culture of Beauty, argues this point by saying “The Media distract women from focusing on what bodies do… dressing up, dressing down or...

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