How Media Influences Women Essay, Research Paper
We, the American public are hit from every imaginable direction every waking moment of our lives by slick advertising agencies trying to coerce us into or tell us why we need to buy their products. Their products will make us happier or thinner, or prettier. The advertisers often use the picture of youth and vitality so that the public will associate that particular product or service with being young and beautiful. They do this because of course in our society youth and beauty are to be coveted. Everyone would like to be forever young and beautiful or for as long as they can anyway. So, everyone is trying to look younger or wants to look younger. The things that we can associate with youth are obvious. We see the picture of youth and beauty everywhere. Look in any magazine, Watch TV, see billboards, everywhere you turn we see young, beautiful people. Youth is synonymous with beauty so little wonder why when you read this bumper sticker few women admit their age, few men act it a lot of women won t divulge their age. To do so would be to admit they are perhaps older than they look or if we were to know their real age we might say something (hopefully to ourselves) like jeez, she looks a lot older than that!
The media is really the one at work that shapes a lot of our attitudes and beliefs. They might not necessarily be healthy attitudes and beliefs but they are the ones that have been shoved in front of our faces from the day we were born. Believe me, they know how powerful and influential they (the media) can be.
The most disturbing thing to me about advertising is the ideal female body they use. It is absolutely tight, contained, bolted down. Being thin is not enough. Women need to be in shape as well. Obtaining that body becomes a matter of self-control. It illustrates to me that they are saying thin women are in control. They have mastered the discipline of dieting and exercise. It is the fat women who are not in control. Fat has become associated with laziness and lack of self-discipline.
Of the statistics that I ran across while researching this topic said that eighty percent of girls between the ages of eight and twelve are on a diet. The number one wish of most women and girls is to loose weight. Media presents images that tell woman and girls that acceptance means being unnaturally thin. The average fashion model, whose image we are bombarded with, weighs twenty-three percent less than the average American woman. Twenty years ago, the average fashion model weighed only eight percent less. Only five percent of all women are born with the ideal fashion model body, which of course leaves the other ninety-five percent inundated with images of only the five- percent ideal type body.
Advertising uses a lot of different techniques to show the public the perfect female image. Body doubles and computer retouching are two examples of how advertisers are able to doctor images. The majority of women we see in magazines, music videos. and movies do not appear in reality, as we perceive them in the media. We may actually believe we are looking at one woman s body when we are actually looking at sections of three or four women s bodies, which, when spliced together, shows us the best parts of each women s body as the final product. Women cannot attain these impossible standards of attractiveness. Young girls learn very quickly that they must spend much time, energy, and money on achieving these standards.
What happens often times trying to achieve these impossible standards is to control appetite at all times and willpower become essential, the body in affect becomes the enemy. Eating disorders have become a trend among woman and girls as they become increasingly conditioned to lose weight (be in control).
Anorexia nervosa and its associated syndrome, bulimia is an extremely dangerous problem that is becoming more widespread. The chief symptoms are self-induced starvation and/or binge eating and purging. For most this is a compulsive addiction similar to alcoholism. it leads to poor health, psychological problems, shame, guilt, shame and withdrawal. It is also destructive to family members and friends.
The weight loss industry is now a thirty-three billion-dollar industry. Advertisements aimed at selling diet products portray food and the self as enemies and the diet products as our friends. What consumers are not told is that ninety-eight percent of those who lose weight through diet products such as pills, shakes, ect. gain the weight back including additional weight. The advertisements only tell us that you can never be too thin, and starving and suffering got you into shape. The diet industry deliberately perpetuates dangerous attitudes about food and body image because it is profitable for them to make women feel terrible about their bodies, and the majority of women do feel that way. It is common knowledge that women in our culture are entirely more affected by the slender ideal then are men and by beauty ideals in general. It is also more evident that the frequency of eating disorders is astoundingly higher among girls and women than among males.
The ideals of female beauty have not always been inbodied in the figure of most of today s super models whose bodies resemble that of a young boy, not a woman. Figures like that of Marilyn Monroe, which today are considered fat, were the ideals of the time thirty years ago.
It seems difficult to dispute that the attainment of the slender ideal is very painful for many women. in light of the statistics given earlier (only five percent of women can achieve the ideal fashion model form), it is an impossible task for women to pursue. Women develop a highly damaging relationship with food that does very little except limit their lives.
Advertising has served as a disciplinary force in the lives of women. Advertisers create images that dictate cultural trends indicative of the time. The dominating image of the painfully thin woman in advertising remains the ideal for the American women. The grim truth is that attaining the slender body of today is not realistic for most women. Their bodies are not naturally shaped like those of twelve-year old boys. Eating disorders are on the rise, and the relationship women have with food is becoming an increasingly dangerous one.