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Media Influence on Body Image Essay

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One does not need to search long to find her. She can be found by turning on a television, seeing a film, opening a magazine, or passing by a billboard. She is young, thin, tall, and—according to media—attractive. She is nameless, but she is who women strive to be; she is the paragon of beauty. However, not even the model can achieve these high standards. Lighting, makeup, angles, photographic skills, makeup, and photo editing manipulate the model into a symbol of societal standards.
The media reinforces unrealistic ideals for body image. This representation of the perfect body is constantly thrown out for audiences to see. As Jordan (2003) says, “Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe action figures, sculpted mannequins gracing storefront windows, professional models seen in fashion catalogs and health club ads – all of these suggest to everyday consumers an idealized notion of beauty and serve as models for desirable bodies” (p. 250). Some maintain that this continuous assault of impossible standards causes lowered self-esteem and eating disorders (Conley, 2011). Our culture coerces us to believe that we must follow a set of beauty and image standards in order to achieve happiness. This causes us to view models as people to emulate (Poorani, 2012). The media “does not just reflect the underlying culture that produced it but also creates desires and narratives that enter women’s…lives with causal force” (Conley, 2011, p. 101). Bissell and Rask (2010) propose that women may still believe that the media’s body image standards are ideal for them even if they recognize that these images and models have been altered or manipulated. What makes this all the more troublesome is the fact that the perfect body changes over time. For example, Marilyn ...


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...factors. American Communication Journal, 14(2), 41-57.
Vandenbosch, L., & Eggermont, S. (2012). Understanding sexual objectification: A comprehensive approach toward media exposure and girls' internalization of beauty ideals, self-objectification, and body surveillance. Journal of Communication, 62(5), 869-887. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01667.x
Vitak, J., & McLaughlin, C. (2011, May). A picture’s worth a thousand words, but friendships matter more. Paper presented at the 61st annual conference of the International Communication Association, Boston, MA.
Wang, X. (2010). More than just anorexia and steroid abuse: Effects of media exposure on attitudes toward body image and self-efficacy. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 18(1), 50-62. doi:10.1080/15456870903210089
Wolf, N. (1991). The beauty myth: how images of beauty are used against women. New York: W. Morrow.



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