In today’s society, media images are plastered across social networks, magazines, and television. We live in a world where the images from the media contain actors, actresses, and models with our ideal of beauty, and it is these images that are idolized, placing increased pressures on men and women alike to keep up with their bodies. More and more men and women are being diagnosed with eating disorders as time goes by (Morris & Katzman, 2003; Derenne & Beresin, 2006) and steroid use is on the rise (Radcliffe, 2013); the images that are being telegraphed to the general populace are having negative effects on their viewers. “A content analysis of women’s magazines from 1901 to 1981 revealed that the women portrayed in the media have become increasingly skinny; evidence that may help explain the rise in the number of eating disorders in recent decades” (The Effects of Social Pressure to be Thin On Body Dissatisfaction and Negative Effect,” 2000). This theory states that a message is being clearly sent to viewers, one which states that only a certain type of physical beauty is valued.
Cutler states that “for European American and African American girls, ages 7 through 12, greater overall television exposure predicted both a thinner ideal adult body shape and a higher level of disordered eating one year later” (2010). This research indicates that images in media advertising are not only adversely affecting the adult population, but are targeting the younger and adolescent generations as well, whether such targeting is conscious or unconscious on the part of the media. Such images are leading to greater increases in eating disorders and indicate that we live in a world where images from the media directly affect body image and self-perception of body image.
The ideal body image depicted for men in the media has been compared to muscle bulk, which has resulted in increased trends of steroid use (Radcliffe, 2013). “Advertising images have also been recently accused of setting unrealistic ideals for males, and men and boys are beginning to risk their health to achieve the well-build media standard” they see depicted every day (Body Image and Advertising, 2013).
In conclusion, the images depicted in the media result in negative effects on the viewers of those images. It is important that the media promotes a positive and healthy body image; perfect does not need to be 100lbs for women or Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky” for men. All body shapes, ethnicities, and cultures should be praised. Although these images do not have the same impact on everyone, the majority of the population feels the pressure of these images in one way or another.
- Body Image and Advertising. “Eating Disorders: Body Image and Advertising.” – HealthyPlace. Healthy Place, 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. http://www.healthyplace.com/eating-disorders/articles/eating-disorders-body-image-and-advertising/print/
- Cutler, Arielle. “Keeping the True Self Alive through Intelligent Resistance: Opposing the Cultural Crusade for Female Physical Perfection through Media Literacy Education.” Hamilton.edu, 2010. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. http://www.hamilton.edu/documents/Arielle%20Cutler%20Levitt%20paper.pdf
- Derenne, J. L., and E. V. Beresin. “Body Image, Media, and Eating Disorders.” Academic Psychiatry 30.3 (2006): 257-61. Print.
- “The Effects of Social Pressure to Be Thin On Body Dissatisfaction and Negative Affect.” University of Texas, 2000. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/HomePage/Class/Psy158H/PrevHonors/Fall00/Z25/litreview.html
- Morris, Anne M., and Debra K. Katzman. “The Impact of the Media on Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents.” Paediatr Child Health 8.5 (2003): 287-89. Print.
- Radcliffe, Shawn. “Steroid Use on the Rise.” Blogs. Men’s Fitness, 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2013. http://www.mensfitness.com/training/build-muscle/steroid-use-on-the-rise