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Media and Teen's Body Image - Essay Example

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Media is one of the most powerful sources of social identity and personal images followed by teens. This medium has enormous impact on this age group influencing their taste and style. The idea that clothes constitute a language and means of communication has been central to the proliferation of the fashion industry and its promotion through teens' magazines and TV shows and by sanctioned role models…
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Media and Teens Body Image
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Download file to see previous pages Media creates a negative body image of young girls portraying and popularizing 'very thin" models and distorted bodies. Such displays undo associations of femininity with excess, over-indulgence and lack of control. Women with eating disorders are merely the extreme version of the widespread desire for 'a slender body' prompted by the opposition in consumer culture between discipline and excess. Bordo (1989), one of the most popular feminist writers and critics, suggests that eating disorders characterize the modern western 'self'. In this case, media becomes the most influential source of information which forms tastes and preferences of young girls. Following Holmstrom (2004):
Research has shown that a discrepancy between the "actual" self (attributes you and others believe you possess) and the "ideal" self (attributes you or others believe you should possess) can produce negative emotional states such as sadness, discouragement, and depression. An average [girl] may be discouraged by the discrepancy between her body and that of the media ideal" (196).
Statistical results vividly portrays that the incidence of bulimia nervosa (one to two per 100 women) and anorexia nervosa (one per 1,000 women) of western women suggests a social pathology (Gauntlett 78). Also, a survey of readers of the popular magazine, Vogue, suggested that almost 15 % of 25- to 24-year-old respondents were anorexic or bulimic. These results correlated with respondents' extreme concern about their body images, self esteem and ability to cope with stress (Gauntlett 80). Young girls over-estimated their own body size and identified over-thin models as their ideal body shape. Increasingly, analysis of anorexia has been linked to feelings of powerlessness. Critics (Snow 187) underline that what begins as a refusal to be part of the power structure becomes a form of power and control in the behavior itself.
For many girls, 'ideal' body images represent adulthood and independence. Bordo (1989) argues that media practices produce self-regulating 'female subjects' through the demonstration of control over the physical body (29). Through processes of self-monitoring and self-regulation of the body, multiple demands and conflicts placed upon it could be accommodated. Bordo states that the 'preoccupation with the "internal" management of the body is produced by instabilities in the "macroregulation" of desire within the system of the social body (Bordo 1989, 96). Media depicts and popularizes an ideal body image which becomes standards for many girls.
Femininity is constructed as a process of selecting an ideal image and adapting available clothing and cosmetics to realize an approximation to that ideal (Gauntlett 28). Attributes of femininity are also shaped by the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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