Content Analysis on Body Image and the Media

ContentAnalysis on Body Image and the Media

ContentAnalysis on Body Image and the Media

Themedia has for a long time used pictures for various purposes such asfashion, product, and service advertisement. These images can bewitnessed in billboards, magazines, newspapers, and television amongother infomercials. Apparently, the way in which these pictures arerepresented is the most surprising. The photographs are usuallyperfect, without a single blemish or deformity. The female body isoften illustrated by thinness and beauty as well as accentuatedcurves. The man’s body, on the other hand, is usually portrayed asstout and muscular with a handsome face. The effects of these mediarepresentations of the body image have led to effects related toself-regard and diet.


Thesymbols used in media include an artificial look that is modified toillustrate perfection. The use of images that have been broken down,for instance, the lips, breasts, butt, and legs, imply that suchparts of the body are most valued rather than the person’sintellect and feelings. Also, the commodification of the female bodyin products depicts its use as an object of pleasure. Furthermore,body positioning is used to describe the social roles of the genders.For example, the depiction of males being taller than females in animage that contains both of them together indicates societalhierarchy.


Mostof the popular magazines tend to communicate to the women,emphasizing the importance of focusing on the outside physicalattributes such as shape, size, hair, nails, color, clothing and evenmuscle tone. However, the men cannot be excluded as part of theintended audience due to the presentation of the female image as aproduct for male consumption and pleasure. Beauty has been acceptedas the main feature of attraction for women.


Mediaimagery has led to the development of a perception that the supremebody is the one that corresponds to the media display. Collectively,people tend to put more effort on grooming, diet, and activities thatenhance their body appearance due to this accepted impression.

Isthe Meaning Tied to any Assumptions?

Themedia has a lot of influence to its audience as they interact withthe presentations such as music, movies, ads and commercials. Theassumptions involved perceive that the consumers of media content areinclined towards accepting the things that are perfect and withoutflaws. People want to be associated with things that are superior andunadulterated.


Mostof the female models are thin, with large breasts and long legs.Additionally, these celebrities are usually Caucasian. Suchillustrations prompt the belief that anything outside the standardcreated by the media is not considered to be appealing or acceptable.Therefore, people begin to seek enhancing services such as plasticsurgery, application of a broad range of beauty products and extremedieting to attain the same status.

Clearand Desired Effect

Theeffects of such portrayals have developed a notion that the idealbody of women is the one displayed in the media sources. Similarly,the men have accepted the depiction that an ultimate woman must havethe same physical characteristics of the models in the magazines andtelevision programs. This is because the media displays an idealwoman as thin and shapely, and the society has accepted thisideology. Both males and females now describe a perfect female bodyas slim, curvy and without any imperfections. Finding such beauty isnext to impossible due to the nature of the human life. Someindividuals try to engage in actions that propel them towards thesedesirable appearances.


Thesociocultural paradigm plays a significant role in influencing a lotof things. Apparently, aspects such as the diet and eating habits,clothing, hairstyle and the general way of life are affected. In thecontemporary society, most of the individuals encounter pressure fromparents, peers, the community and media to conform to certain ways oflife. Specifically, the social comparison theory focuses on thefunction of likening one’s appearance to that of others. Thesociety is accepting that by having an appealing body, the individualis worthy and blameless. Since the beginning of time, what thesociety has recognized as the norm pushes people to behave in aparticular manner. The media is part and parcel of the institutionsthat lead to such effects. Based on this paradigm we can attest thatpeople, especially women, compare their bodies to that of the mediadepictions leading to changes in their behavior and emotions. Thesealterations can be detrimental as the people try to look for anypossible ways to achieve their objectives.

Limitationsof the Social Paradigm

Thesociocultural paradigm comes with its limitations, which can be seenin the responses by the society. First and foremost, the modelsupports the belief that all individuals have to attain the perfectbody representation. Moreover, this is the main reason as to whywomen work hard to achieve the ideal thin body. The acceptance ofthis fact tends to place a particular notion in an entire populationthat the most attractive body image is what is important in a person.Secondly, the theory also promotes the application of contemporarymethods of behavior and way of life. A considerable number ofindividuals are willing to sacrifice their time, money, effort andother resources to attain the socially established status.

Thestandpoint on this issue is founded on the strength and influence ofthe media, who seem to mislead us into believing certain standards.The emotions of people are quite varied, and some individuals wouldbe more attracted to slim women while some to a large bodied one.However, due to the extensive projections, such views have beenwashed off and replaced by the media depiction.

Roomfor Future Research

Thereis, therefore, a need for future research which focusses on theprevalence of both men and women who have been directly or indirectlyinfluenced by the media. There are studies already done which haveestablished adverse impacts of media and body image, and they can besupplemented by more insight on the level of the effects to thepopulation. An analysis needs to be performed, that purposefullyattempts to determine the depth of media influence to the society. Adifferent type of research may also provide more informationconcerning which media type has the highest influence, for instance,a comparison between the television and magazines.


Themedia has a significant effect on the perception and belief of thesociety. As things keep changing day by day, so does the mediarepresentations of the people, items, and way of life. Often, the-theworld comes to accept such depictions as the standard. Due to thecognitive and emotional entities of human beings, there is asignificant tendency for people to have the push to adhere to suchdisplays. In the process, behaviors that may not be healthy areadopted in an attempt to fit the sociocultural custom. Similarly,more time and resources will be allocated into this venture with theprimary objective of attaining the physique that is perfect. Eventhough flawlessness is not easily achieved, there is a level ofsatisfaction that comes with the ability to resemble the body images.Therefore, the media is an adamant tool that can change the worldviewof the society either positively or negatively. Care must be takenconcerning the urge to achieve what is depicted as the best.


Sparhawk, J. (2003). Body Image and the Media: The Media`s Influence on Body Image. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin.