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What Is the Connection between Body Image and the Media?

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  • Written By: Rhonda Rivera
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
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Body image and the media are connected because the latter influences the former. Many people consume a lot of media, from television shows to pictures in magazines, and their idea of what normal people look like can be skewed because of this. Teenagers, in particular, often view celebrities as role models and aim to be just as thin and flawless. In addition, many commercials encourage consumers to be more attractive and reinforce the notion that certain normal features are unattractive. It is important to Realizing that celebrities look their best on television and appear in digitally altered pictures in magazines and commercials is part of developing a good body image.

Poor body image and the media are related because it is sometimes easy for a person to view media and believe that being model thin or having large biceps is the norm. Television shows, commercial advertisements, and magazines often feature beautiful, thin people. Without heavy makeup, perfect lighting, and digitally altered features, celebrities are ordinary people. Though they have freckles, moles, and bad hair days, it is not in the media’s interest to show a celebrity’s everyday flaws. The media profits by providing what people have shown interest in and are entertained by, which is seldom everyday flaws.

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To sell beauty and fitness products, television and radio commercials often start by playing on peoples’ fears or insecurities. The commercial might ask if they have gained weight and want to lose it before wearing a swimsuit or imply that having thighs that touch is a bad thing. After this, the advertiser offers a solution to the perceived problem. Body image and the media are connected because the effects of the media can leave people wanting a better body, which is profitable for beauty companies and gyms. While some people probably have gained weight and lost it using the product, the ad can negatively affect people who are of normal weight but wish to be celebrity-thin.

Having a good body image while still consuming media is entirely possible though. Young women in particular should be encouraged to think about how magazines appeal to their insecurities to sell the latest hairspray, foundation, or hair straightener. Eating disorders have been discovered in people as young as eight years old. They may be preventable if children grow up aware of the advertisements and false stereotypes that surround them. Sports can also play a role in developing a healthy body image, though some sports with a focus on appearance, like ice skating, may not help.

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