Negative Body Image of Women in the Media

Today media ranges from television to newspaper articles. Many in society do not realize the negative effects that the media portrays to young women. Young women are more susceptible to these negative side effects resulting in low self-esteem, eating disorders, or depression. Media projects images of women that have been surgically or technologically edited, these projections are causing negative effects. These unrealistic women have a greater effect on young women today, society has enveloped this idea that we have to meet this certain image.

We have become so overwhelmed with the stereotypical image causing great disapproval for women who are slightly overweight. Everyone wants to look their best; the question is to what will society to do in order to look their best. Society is becoming more open with the idea that women need to be skinny, sometimes skinnier than what is actually healthy. For example, when comparing one skinny and one curvier woman for an ad about the “ideal body image” individuals would not accept the curvier woman as the “ideal body”.

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The pictures of skinnier models that are often airbrushed can have a detrimental effect on the psyche of women. This often leads women see changes that need to be made to themselves. Our generation has numerous women so self-conscience of body image it is having negative effect on mental and physical health. Where Portrayal Starts In today’s society we often spend too much time being exposed to numerous media. This amount is greatly increases as we grow older. When we are exposed to this much media different forms of advertisement has become normal and we are less likely to acknowledge the sexuality of the message being sent.

Absorbing certain aspects in media helps society receive information, although too much of this information can cause the negative side effects we see today. Adapting to these advertisements causes us to adapt to what is being portrayed. A study conducted by the National Institute on Media and Family, “children spend more time sitting in front of electronic screens than doing any other activity besides sleeping…lack of physical activity, exposure to adult themes and content, and lack of interaction with family and peers” (“Technology and media”).

Eating disorders are starting to become more prominent at a younger age, according to The Center for Mental Health 90% of people who suffer from eating disorders are from the ages of 12-25. Statistics explain that 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies” at 13 years old. This alarming statistic becomes worse by growing to 78% by the age of 17. Young women are over exposed to appearance driven media outlets, causing women to feel the need to look more like the Hollywood women they see on TV. These younger women should not have to be concerned with body image at a young age.

Eating disorders are a huge sign to society that media is having detrimental impact on young women (“Body image and Nutrition,”). Society’s standards for body image has changed drastically over the past decades, we can see this through the various different types of media. The importance of beauty and self-image has become so defined in our brains that it has started to effect people’s happiness, love, and success for women. Media has portrayed these ideas at attainable and real. Women need to come to terms with their body image and stop measuring themselves to the “ideal body”.

Negative media attention affects everyone; children are being exposed to the stereotypes without most parents’ knowledge. Children movies, TV shows, and toys are sending out messages for children to learn about body image. Most movies and toys often portray women characters to be thin and beautiful. Disney Princess characters are all thin, beautiful, and young women. These fictional characters let children believe that to have a “happy ever after” you need to look like a Disney Princess. Children toys are also to blame for these problems, most have seen a Barbie doll growing up and she sets the standards for being thin and beautiful.

Barbie was made to be the ideal woman, but if you created a life size doll she would not be proportioned. On TV children are over exposed to commercials showing tall and thin women. Being exposed to these thoughts can lead to young women having major psychological effects in the future. Parental messages about appearance can also lead to problems; this cycle unfortunately starts even as young as newborns. This causes the unrealistic goals of the perfect body image to become focused on too early in life. How Media Effects Young women are becoming exposed to more appearance driven media, these omen are shown numerous Hollywood women that have the ideal body.

Current celebrities in Hollywood have the numerous young fans of all ages seeing them throughout the media. Photographs, magazine covers, and television ads display them every day. Celebrities with long legs, perfect hair, bronze skin and an amazing figure Hollywood has created images average Americans cannot meet. Young women often see the positive attention celebrities receive; they start to believe that to get the positive attention they should try to achieve the look.

Most of society will never be able to achieve having the body celebrities have causing them to have a lower self-esteem. The music industry has started having a negative effect of women’s self-esteem and body image. Music videos often feature women wearing revealing outfits and exposing very thin bodies. The lyrics to certain types of music often depict sex, drugs, and the body image of women. Rap and Hip-Hop tend to be more focused on how women should be looking; “Tip Drill” by Nelly has multiple references on body image for women.

The lyrics show us the evidence of being disrespectful to women and shows the message of body image is more important than other aspects. One of the most disrespectful songs towards women, “Thong Song”, is very belittling towards women. The lyrics “Ooh that dress so scandalous and you know any other guy couldn’t handle it see you shaking that thing like who’s the dish. With a look in your eye so devilish”, sends the message to young women that it is okay for men to only acknowledge the physicality in women. These lyrics allow women to think its okay to become less respectful of themselves, and young women should not become exposed to this.

Magazines have a huge portrayal of Hollywood women in the media. Almost anyone can walk into any store and pick up the latest issue of their favorite magazine. Cosmopolitan magazine is very popular among women; their covers often have a Hollywood celebrity dressed in a sexy outfit and different sex articles. Women see these covers advertising “How to Flirt Your Way into a Date” (Cosmopolitan) or “Ten Sexiest Outfits” (Cosmopolitan) and this encourages women to become more experienced. These women on the cover of magazines are often seen as “sex symbols”.

Professor Tom Reichert of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Georgia completed a study of how “sex sells”. Reichert and his colleagues studied nearly 3,232 ads published in six different magazines: Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Esquire, Playboy, Newsweek and Time. Half of advertisements included models, and these ads were based on how sexy the models were dressed and whether they were in physical contact with another model. “Just more than a quarter, or 27 percent, of clothing ads showed sex appeal during the study period” (“Sexy Advertising On the Rise”).

These types of ads are seen by numerous young women and allow them to believe in order to be sexy you must act and dress like these models. Negative Side Effects of Media One’s body image makes us unique as individuals by physical traits. Even if society has created the ideal body, changing ones physical features would take away from our individuality. Body image should be how we as individuals view ourselves. How you feel about yourself as a person depending on perception, imagination, emotions, and natural physical appearance should be important.

Unfortunately media has shaped the minds of society into having to meet this certain body image without giving thoughts to the negative side effects. Women need role models to remember they should be respected because of the achievements they make and the education they gain. Many women are gaining in careers and media outlets are turning careers into sexual fantasies. Examples of sexualized women posing in revealing outfits as teachers, nurses, or business women shows the world the negative depiction of women who have these jobs as careers.

This outlook strips the accomplishment of these careers and allows young women to see that they will not be taken seriously in the jobs they worked so hard to achieve. Young women acknowledge these ads and aspire to become sexualized models rather than have an educated career. Sexualized models are overexposed in today’s society and are becoming more unrealistic for women to achieve. Our society is degrading women though the media and sending negative messages on how women should be viewed. Women being objectified as sexual objects with very little value and limiting a women’s potential.

Young women that view this side of media is damaging to their self-esteem, many look to media on how to dress and act. Advertising is causing young women to feel the need to conform themselves to fit societies standards. These same girls are looking for extreme measures to achieve these standards. Standards for body image and the importance of image is being pushed though media at an alarming rate. Media representation of body image is leading to social trends of an unhealthy lifestyle. The goal of magazine articles is to sell products.

Diet pill advertisements are on the rise in numerous magazines. Women of all ages are drawn to these ads hoping that with diet pills they can achieve the ideal body image. These ads usually have picture of previous women who have taken them and lost extreme amounts of weight. Also many diet companies will use celebrity endorsements. Anna Nicole Smith was famous with the diet pill called “Trim-Spa”; her advertisements sell pills to these women saying they could lose as much weight as her and look beautiful.

This sends the idea to women that taking a dietary supplement will achieve unbelievable weight loss and encourage them as a good idea. Not only are the supplements being advertised, most of the ads feature Anna Nicole Smith can posed in revealing outfits and was often airbrushed. Young women see these pictures and try to transform themselves into the body they see in pictures. Women taking diet pills can lead into eating disorders, although there is no singular cause for anorexia or bulimia these disorders are stem from the need to have the perfect body.

Society is being exposed to sexual references in numerous forms of media. Being exposed to this type of media is sending the message to women that sexual behavior is a social norm and is happening often. Young women are becoming sexual active at a younger age, and over the last decade certain industries are using younger women for more sexualized situations. For example, the fashion industry has begun to use young models that include the ages of 12-14 for their clothing line targeted for 20-25 year olds. Often these young models are being posed in scenes that over expose them and create a sexualized image.

A recent TV sensation on TLC is “Toddlers and Tiaras” where 4-5 year old girls are dressed up and parade on stage in pageants. These children are spray tanned, waxed, wear make-up, and some even wear false teeth (flippers) in order to appear more “beautiful”. During the show they often show before and after pictures of the contestants and the girls no longer look life children. Part of the pageant competition is a section called “Wow Wear” contestants get to wear an outfit of their choice and most have a little dance that goes along.

These outfits are usually very revealing for the age group, some have tummies showing and others are based off of celebrities. Some mothers worry about children become over sexualized in society, they do not want another JonBenet Ramsey case. Having these girls modeling and being in “glitz” pageant start the obsession with body image at an extremely young age. Personal Thoughts on Self Image Having that ideal body and self-image is not something we are born with, it’s the positive impressions with leave with people we meet in the “real” world.

It is easy to become different types of people without putting forth too much of an effort. It takes a true individual to understand the importance of having positive self-esteem. Most of society’s young women have problems with self-esteem because of the media. We should be focused on conforming society to welcome not being perfect, the slightest imperfections make us individuals. Parents should push to become more of a role model and stop letting society dictate what is acceptable. This would help young women in society to understand what is realistic and ignore society’s expectations. Final Thoughts

Media has affected women of all ages and the outcome is a concern that continues to become more pronounced. Advertisements have been putting increasing amounts of pressure on women to conform to the ideal body image. The push to become thin and unnatural beautiful is causing horrible outcomes. Women are resorting to unhealthy habits and becoming disappointed in body image at younger ages. As a society we need to push for individuality and natural beauty, allowing women to be more than pretty faces. We need to stop criticizing women on not looking like the Hollywood elite and trying to achieve the unattainable.

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Negative Body Image of Women in the Media. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from