The media reports on events that are happening across the world. Theadvanced communication technology has enabled the press to expand itsaudience primarily through the use of the internet. Its viewersconsist of both adults and children who seek the media services forentertainment and source of information. People spend their leisuretime differently, but it is argued that most individuals preferbrowsing or watching television. The children make up a big audiencebecause their parents and guardians are busy trying to generateincome for their families and have little time to spend with theirchildren. The content that is presented by the press is said to havea different impact on the listeners as it influences one’sperception of how thy look particularly among the young population.The paper seeks to discuss how the media has adversely affected bodyimage in women. It shall focus on how the overpowering influence ofthe press has resulted in eating disorders and unrealistic socialexpectations.
Before analyzing the impact of the media press on the body image ofladies, it is essential to understand what the term body image means.Donnelly, (2014), defines body image as “how you think and feelabout your body or your appearance or your looks.” Self-awarenessis an essential element in determining one’s perception of thembecause it may affect their behavior. One of the adverse effects ofthe media is that it causes eating disorders among women. Bordostates that psychologists believe that girls engaging in eatingdisorders are ill of ‘body image disturbance syndrome,’ a diseasewhere ladies consider themselves fat despite being slim. The presscontributes to the eating disorder through fashion magazines andprograms where they present people who are thin as being beautiful.The models in the periodicals have breast implants and are airbrushedwith make-up to enhance their body image. It is evident that themodified looks change the acceptable meaning of real beauty and theideal body in today’s society. Although the industry is justpassing information to its audience, the vulnerable populations suchas the adolescent girls are the most affected in understanding whatconstitutes beauty. The victims of eating disorders present picturesof their role models obtained from the magazines. Doctors argue thateven though the media may contribute to anorexia, the family may havealso failed to play their part. The media houses have laws andregulations that require them to state the age limit of the contentthey are airing (Haas, et al., 2012). Therefore, if theparents are absent to provide guidance when such programs arepresented, the ladies are likely to engage in eating disorder becausethey do not understand the impact of the information on their health.
Another influence of the media on body image of women is that itmakes them develop a negative attitude towards how they look. In themodern world, young teenagers and adults are communicating throughsocial media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, andInstagram. They post their images for the rest of the world to seeand comment on their appearance. Therefore, if one gets positivefeedback, they consider their body image as impressive. However, ifthey are ridiculed, they lose confidence in their bodies, develop anegative attitude, and believe that nobody admires them. In mostcircumstances, women compare the response of their fellow ladies getwhen they upload pictures of themselves in the social media platformsto theirs. If one fails to get an overwhelming feedback from theaudience, their perception changes as they develop body insecurity(Bordo, n.y). The behavior of the ladies arises from the unrealisticsocial expectations where they believe that they look attractive justlike other pictures uploaded in the media. When the women receive thenegative feedback, they also become demoralized and engage in moreweight loss activities until they achieve what they believe to be thedesired look in the society. Bordo suggests that it is significantfor women to understand the meaning of their actions because some mayacquire the eating disorder due to their vulnerability (Bordo, n.y).Others may change their body image because they want to comply withthe current behavior in the society. Despite the reason why onedecides to adopt the new culture, one gets to realize that theirexpectations are unrealistic when they fail to achieve what theyconsidered the ideal body. Hence, the impact of the messages sharedthrough the social interaction networks indicates the overpoweringinfluence of the media in determining body image in women.
The media industry has always been blamed for influencing othercultures in the world. A majority of the countries air more programspresenting the Western culture as opposed to their local culture.However, some states have implemented media legislations putting thelimit on the Western content that should be viewed on the localstations. Despite the regulations, people can see any program overthe internet. The broadcasted programs tend to present a culturewhere women are skinny and considered beautiful. For instance, theMiss World pageant can be viewed online or through social mediachannels like YouTube. The girls get to see how the world recognizesthem and get the financial benefit when they are crowned the MissWorld title. The programs from the Western countries show the latestfashion trends that the young ladies desire to wear. When the localgirls watch such programs or even see how the models are praised intheir social media accounts, they develop body image problems. Theytend to have a painful comparison of their bodies to those of thewhite women. Bordo (n.y) provides an example of the Fiji Islands thatbegan having television broadcasting in 1995. She states that thetraditional culture of the Fiji women celebrated women with massivebodies. However, after the station began airing its programs, 11% ofthe girls would vomit to lose weight whereas 62% were said to havestarted dieting. The survey showed the impact of media on Fiji womenand how the foreign culture had replaced their traditional practices(Bordo, n.y). Therefore, it can be argued that the press has anoverpowering influence since it affects the body image of womenthrough their culture.
The media also affects the body image of women through pressure,particularly from the social interaction platform. The young ladiesand adolescents are the most vulnerable population. According toBordo, (n.y), the images presented by the fashion magazines orprograms are ‘unreal.’ However, when the girls view them, theydevelop desires and emerge into a fantasy even if they are aware thatthe images are edited to present perfection. In the modern societymost people spend most of their time surfing the internet. Hence,they are likely to come across the pictures frequently until the urgeto achieve the fantasy develops (Donnelly, 2014). It is evident thatthe media is pressuring the women to have the unrealisticexpectations because they even provide tutorials on how the stylingfeature was obtained. They also give information on tips andexercises that the featured models engage in to achieve their perfectbody shapes. The chances that when the ladies read such content andpractice the steps and guidelines provided are very high. Anotherform of pressure involves the modern applications being developed.For example, when one takes a picture using Instagram some filtersare available that enable one to edit their image to suit the qualitybeing uploaded on the social sites. Other applications includePhotoshop that allows one to organize their picture and appear as adifferent person (Haas, et al., 2012). The likelihood ofapplying the filter button to enhance one looks is high if assuresone of positive comments and pictures from the audience. The appsmake one to achieve unrealistic social expectations because it makesone uncontended with the actual self. The peer pressure can alsocontribute to the eating disorder because most of the ladies workingas media presenters or those featured in fashion and beauty magazinesare slim. The press is presenting a social perception that only thethin women are beautiful and appreciated by the society. Therefore,when the viewers who spend more time on the television notice thetrend, they develop body image anxiety. It arises because, inaddition to obtaining the message of beauty, the girls consider thelooks as a dominant culture that is admired, valued and rewarded inthe society. Thus, the women begin engaging in all sorts of practicesthat allow them to achieve the slim body resulting in eating disordersyndrome. It can be argued that the media has an overwhelminginfluence since it exerts the pressure to conform to the societynorms.
In conclusion, body image across the women fraternity shall remain anissue if the media continues to affect them negatively. The abovediscussion shows that the press makes the ladies suffer from eatingdisorders that arise from the desire to achieve what is consideredthe ideal body in the mass media. Secondly, the media has anoverpowering influence among the women since it makes them abandontheir cultural practices and adopt the Western culture that isdistinct from their traditions. Girls learn about the new culturesfrom the media and the internet, which leads to unrealistic socialexpectations. Thirdly, based on the content of the programs that isbroadcasted through the press platforms, the body image of women isaffected since they develop a negative attitude towards their looks.The conflicting feelings result from comparing oneself to what oneconsiders is the perfect picture. The ladies establish a fantasy thatthey could achieve a similar body, but when they fail, theirperception is affected. Finally, the mass media pressures the womento make what is considered the ideal body by making them anxious anddissatisfied with their current looks. The social media is the mostoverpowering as it has features that enable an individual to altertheir looks and develop the ideal body.
Bordo, S. Never Just Pictures: Bodies and Fantasies.
Bordo, S. The Globalization of Eating Disorders. Thinking, Reading,and Writing about the New Global Era.
Donnelly, K. C., (2014). Banish your body image thief: A cognitivebehavioral therapy workbook on building positive body image for youngpeople.
Haas, C. J., Pawlow, L. A., Pettibone, J., & Segrist, D. J.(2012). An Intervention for the Negative Influence of Media on BodyEsteem. College Student Journal, 46(2), 405-418