Media effects on body imaging

Image retrieved from: https://me.me/i/warning-reflections-in-this-mirror-may-be-distorted-by-socially-7196457

Like every woman who is constantly being targeted through media, I understood how it was affecting me every day. Being passionate about studying media and how it works, I always thought that I have better understanding of the situation and therefore I would never fall a victim of these images. In addition, to get a better understanding of the actual media effects on body imaging, I have decided to do some research on the topic. 

After spending a lot of time researching the subject, I was very surprised with the fact of how deep the root of this issue was.  One after another, I saw images of what media believes were “perfect” women, but those images generated a false believe of how everybody supposed to look and what is normal for everybody. In fact, only about 5% of American women have the genetics to make it possible to look like these images (Palmer, 2014).   

As a result of being constantly bombarded with the message of not looking perfect, women are trying to find the way to change themselves through diets, make-up products, clothes and stimulating the industries that essentially make them insecure. For most of the them trying to look this way, leads to depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders.    

One of the most unescapable forms of media is advertising. According to Kilbourne (2009) people in Western cultures are exposed to advertisements every time they open a magazine or newspaper, turn on TV, use their social media platforms, or simply drive down a highway where billboards are present. Due to the constant exposure to advertising, people do not often give it conscious attention and, therefore, its social messages are likely to remain unquestioned. Therefore, it is hard to conduct the proper research on the topic.  

In addition, technological advances in all spheres including the media, creates the false feeling of being able to achieve certain results in unrealistically fast timeframes.  Many people with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, put their bodies through great stress in order to accelerate desirable results, dictated by the media. Not being able to achieve those results in unrealistic timeframes, leads to self-esteem issues. Even though there is a lot of research has been done already it seems like the new media outlets develop much faster and research is constantly behind. 

However, to minimalize impact of media effects, there are certain changes that can be made. Proper education of media techniques can help in understanding the industry. Advertisement should be altered and focused on images that are more realistic. Another option is to try to limit the amount of time that we are being exposed to different media sources. But the most important thing is to love yourself.

References

 Kilbourne, J., Levin, D. (2009) So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What

Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. Ballantine Books, New York.

Palmer, M. (2014) 5 Facts About Body Image. Amplify. Retrieved from http://amplifyyourvoice.org/u/marioapalmer/2013/05/21/byob-be-your-own-beautiful.


Victoria Andriyanova is a senior at Old Dominion University currently pursuing a B.S. in Communications with concentration in Media Studies. Victoria is optimistic and self-driven person who takes up responsibilities with utmost enthusiasm. She is passionate about studying the media effects on body imaging and role of pop culture in defining body imaging. In her spare time Victoria likes to watch an unhealthy amount of films, which makes her a borderline cinemaholic.