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.