Media influence our perception of 'beauty'

According to Leonard Eron, senior research scientist at the University of Michigan, “Television alone is responsible for 10 percent of youth violence.” This is only 10 percent, and not including the effect it has on body image, sexuality and eating disorders. Youth everywhere are being influenced by magazines and movies on television, and not in good way. Each movie or magazine depicts some sort of image for the youth to imitate.

What is the proper definition of “Beauty”? The women displayed on television everyday are young, tall and thin. This description reminds me of a Barbie doll. Fat, short and old are not seen as very attractive characteristics. It very rarely is someone with those qualities described as beautiful. Because of the women on television, girls everywhere worry about losing those extra 10 pounds, wearing those nice shiny heals to look taller, or putting on that extra make-up to look younger. According to media activist Jean Kilbourne, “Women are sold to the diet industry by the magazines we read and the television programs we watch, almost all of which make us feel anxious about our weight.”

Excessive exercise and dieting have been over-advertised in newspapers, commercials, and magazines, causing women to be more self-conscious about their body. These women then try to compete, with the assumption that they will attract more men that way. We owe most of this to the film industry for showing all beautiful women as the skinny, Barbie-like ones. Canadian researcher Gregory Fouts reports that, “Over three-quarters of the female characters in TV situation comedies are underweight, and only one in twenty are above average in size.”

The disturbing part of this is that no matter how hard many women try to achieve that level of “beauty,” only a small percentage succeed, causing the rest more harm that good. Research shows that if a girl did look like a Barbie doll, she would not last very long. Her body would not be able to support itself from how thin it is, and she would die.

In addition, movies show that the “fat” woman is ugly and hurtful comments such as, “Why don’t you just wear a sack?” are used. These, meant to hurt the person’s feelings, are unintentionally giving the audience ideas that there is something wrong with being a little on the heavy side.

Not only that, but heavy women are rejected from certain jobs because of how they look, such as television broadcasting. If a woman is not thin, they do not hire her, telling her she will discourage the audience from watching. The “thin woman” standard is not only used for broadcasting, but for selling food and cars. The usual advertisement for cars has a woman leaning on it, wearing immodest clothing. The same woman is also the waitress that serves that great new plate.

As long as movies and shows display “thin, beautiful” women, girls everywhere will continue to harm themselves through binge-eating, anorexia and excessive exercise without realizing it. Girls will lose whatever self-esteem they have and their character will become shallow to the point where all that matters is looking good, rather than having a good personality.


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