July 28th, 2012
In today’s world teenage girls are surrounded by the popular media which selectively affects the way they think of themselves. Through the viewing of various entertainment shows aired on television, many teens minds adapt to the way young-adults are portrayed on shows. Teens are exposed to many different expectations that the media expects them to meet. However, in reality many teenage girls do not meet these expectations and much less surpass them. The teenage mind is still in the transition between becoming an adult and leaving childhood. The media creates different negatively influential visual representations of women in a variety of environments that have an affect on the teenage mind, which further affects the way a young teenage girl looks at herself.
The latest drama series, Awkward, shown on the television network MTV, portrays the life of a few characters that are still living through their high school years. Jenna, Mattie, Jake and Sadie are a few characters that are focused on, all throughout the season. Even though Awkward is a reputable television show, it gives negative connotations about teenage beauty. In one of the episodes, Jenna and her friend invade Sadie’s, their enemy’s room where they not only find her diary, but her food journal. Sadie was of a “larger size” than many of the girls portrayed on the show and all throughout the course of the season, she was expected to look like them by many people. Teenage girls, who are of similar appearance to that of Sadie, may have encountered some issues with this episode. Even though Sadie had been instigating problems with Jenna, it did not justify Jenna’s invasion of her privacy. This goes to show, that entertainment programs such as Awkward, have the capacity to influence the way teenage girls thinks of themselves. Many girls who could have related their body image to that of Sadie may now think that they are not as attractive to others, even though I believe that she looked fine and healthy; other girls who saw the show might not possess the same ideology as me. The media can have a harsh way of influencing teens, and one of those strategic boiling points is a teenage girls weight.
One television show in particular that has been on the CW television network for many years, America’s Next Top Model, showcases a group of girls where they compete to become a well-known model in the modeling industry. By competing to figure out which contestant is the most “beautiful”, it shows a wide range of girls that there is only one type of “beauty” which allows a person to succeed in life. However, before being able to participate in the show they must meet a couple of requirements. If the participants do not meet these requisites, then the women are not considered “perfect”. The potential models have to be five feet nine inches and must be a specific weight, or else they may be called “fat” during their audition. Surprisingly, today’s model weigh’s 23% below the national average of women who are considered healthy in the United States. Throughout the course of the show, the young women are still judged on their looks. Even though, these girls may be thought as beautiful in the modeling industry, to many people in society, including me, those young girls look malnourished and miserable. To me there are many beautiful women who deserve to be recognized because of the qualities they possess. America’s Next Top Model delivers the message that only certain people can make it in the modeling world. The show also demonstrates that there is a specific type of beautiful, which is the only way to exemplify femininity and capture the eye of the audience. These types of shows highly influence the thoughts of many teenage girls. Today, many teenage girls are on a daily battle with the way they perceive themselves. When the media imposes this type of message of “true beauty”, then it influences the thoughts of many young adults. Many people are seduced by the concept of beauty, and when a modeling show, like America’s Next Top Model, selects new participants it causes adolescent females to want to become like those lucky batch of girls. Young women are unable to find their own identity because they are constantly trailing behind role models who are considered “perfect”. In other words, many girls can become anorexic or bulimic, when they might be the adequate size for their body type. I believe that even though these shows have their entertainment value, the shows can directly affect how a young developing women may think of who she is.
Self-image and confidence are some important values that should be possessed by young women. Many of these young women face a variety of hurdles that precludes them from accomplishing the correct perception that they would like to obtain out of themselves. Through different popular media video tools such as television, which broadcasts shows like Awkward or America’s Next Top Model, young women are triggered to believe that they aren’t appealing to others when in reality, everyone is blessed with a true elegance of their own. Everybody needs to find their own identity in order to live a healthy life of their own. By letting themselves use popular media as a guidance, young women put pressure on themsleves to accomplish what the media believes they should be. Popular media has the great power of influence, and that is all it take for a young girl to change the opinions she had always had towards who she really is.
June 29th, 2012
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power” (Malcolm X). Referencing Malcolm X, the belief that the media influences, controls and changes society becomes more of a reality as one begins to dissect different people’s behaviors and choices. Many people try to conform to the media’s idea of what is beautiful, cool, and good. For example, when people think of a model, the majority imagines a skinny woman with white, straight teeth that looks “perfect”. Because of this, society’s view of beauty and self-image is changed. Let’s take dental hygiene into consideration first.
To begin with, the big majority of celebrities and models have straight, white, and sparkling teeth such as Katy Perry (Right). Since many people see them in movies, television shows, and magazines, they begin to believe in THAT ONE form of beauty. Jaime Burkhart, a 23 year-old who attends a college in Cleveland, remarks he is a “bleachorexic”, he argues he is obsessed and has “ridiculously white teeth, but [still doesn’t] think they’re white enough” (msnbc.msn.com). Here, we have a college student who cannot stop whitening his teeth because of the media’s influence in his life. Even though he admits his teeth are already white enough, he still keeps whitening his teeth because of his insecurities. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, “teeth whitening is the No. 1 requested cosmetic service today and its popularity continues to soar… outside the dentist’s office, it’s every bit as popular. Americans spent more than $1.4 billion on over-the-counter teeth-whitening products last year alone” (msnbc.msn.com). Society’s determination to have white teeth is getting a bit out of control. It is okay to whiten your teeth, but some people take it way too far. These people eventually “end up doing real damage” to their mouth. Some side effects of whitening are the thinning of teeth and a pearl-like color, not a porcelain color, which is what most people want.
Furthermore, the media defines body image. The thought of skinny is good and fat is bad is more common than one would like to think. In the movie Shrek (Left), “the ‘ugly’ princess is green, overweight, and more masculine and the ‘beautiful’ princess is thin and extremely feminine” (healthpsych.psy.vandebilt.edu). This clear distinction between beauty and ugliness is influencing kids because kids are the ones who are primarily watching DreamWorks movies such as Shrek. However, movies are not the only ones that do this; television shows do it as well. These shows include, “America’s Next Top Model, The Hills, and The Real Housewives of Orange County, [who] have real life women, not actresses or models, symbolizing the “average woman” in America. These women are the prime examples of how our culture’s standard for attractiveness has reached an unhealthy level. Not only do these women possess the scarily thin bodies, but they constantly discuss dieting, exercise to lose weight, and how they aren’t thin enough” (healthpsych.psy.vandebilt.edu). By doing this, the media not only influences the kid’s opinion of what is beautiful, but also influences parents into believing that being skinny is best for self-image.
Moreover, the media influences young people’s sense of self-image and sometimes, it is not for the better. Kids around the nation try to feel cool and fit in with the popular kids by wearing certain types of clothes and accessories. These clothes are often being showcased in shows, commercials, and advertisements. I am talking about clothes and apparel such as skinny jeans, shoes, and hats. Some kids and teens feel like they need to buy expensive shoes to fit in with a certain crowd of people. Also, some teens and kids that should be wearing glasses, start using contacts to look less “dorky”. All of this is a result of their low self-esteem because of the idea that only “perfect” people are beautiful. In some situations, the way one acts, and dresses might, unfortunately, get that person involved with the wrong crowd of people.
Overall, I believe the media should have a wide variety of people to represent what beauty is. I also believe the media should stop taking control of people’s insecurities. This will not only fix many problems such as self-esteem and depression, but it will also erase certain types of bullying and eating disorders. As a shocking fact, from “1988 to 1993 the number of incidences of bulimia in women between the ages of 10 and 39 [had] more than tripled” (healthpsych.psy.vandebilt.edu). Hopefully, with progress, we can convince society that they are beautiful no matter who they are and give them confidence.