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Research Paper on the Effects of Mass Media on the Perfect Body Image

How can you determine what body image should be? The desire for the perfect body has been prevalent throughout society for a vast majority of time.

What makes teenage girls feel the need to strive for this “perfect body”? Some have asked, “…a rapidly growing body of research addresses the question of whether body perfect ideals in the mass media are a core risk factor for negative body image, particularly in women” (Dittmar, Helga) My hypothesis is “Does the media influence adolescent girl’s weight concerns and their perceptions of body weight and shape? The media in many aspects controls the way that people see themselves and the way they do things.So with teenagers striving to look like what they see in the media some of them go through drastic means to achieve these looks.“The role of mass media influences and parental marital status in the onset of eating disorders.In particular, teenagers tend to be the main target of trying to look like this image.

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” (Irala-Estevez, Martinez-Gonzalez, Lahortiga, Alonso, Cervera, Gual) Eating disorders is a major medical problem that most teens face. Among girls, eating disorders symptoms were directly affected by sociocultural influences, in particular media influences”(Rodgers, Paxton, Chabrol). If the media keeps influencing how teenagers see themselves it can not only damage their life but their families.

The Health Information Network as done research on diets has shown “Anorexia is the Number one killer of teenage girls and in total more than 90% of those with eating disorders are adolescent young women.In many girls, the problems appear to set in from a very early age and is caused by peer pressure and exposure to media advertising” Does media have a major influence in the way teens look at themselves? “Media causes body dissatisfactions since they are the ones who define this perfect body. ” ( Furnham, Greaves) I will test whether different outlets of media from T. V advertisements and shows, magazines, and street ads have a strong influence on how teenage girls look at themselves.Also to what measures will they go to, to achieve the perfect body that they see in the media. In this ever changing society the perfect body has had many different definitions. “This ideal standard of beauty is conveyed to individuals via a number of sources including family, peers and the mass media.

” (Hargreaves) There has been other research down to measure the influence media has on the perception of the perfect body image. A study was done by psychologists with individuals from Fiji where there was little edia influence. Their results showed that, “Key indicators of disordered eating were significantly more prevalent following exposure. Narrative data revealed subjects’ interest in weight loss as a means of modeling themselves after television characters. ” (Becker) After being exposed to American TV shows there was a huge change in body image. Not only with T. V shows but as well as magazines have a great influence on body perception.

One researcher as shown the relationship between magazines and body image, from the Department of Medicine from Harvard Medical School they concluded “There was a positive linear association between the frequency of reading women’s magazines and the prevalence of having dieted to lose weight because of a magazine article, initiating an exercise program because of a magazine article, wanting to lose weight because of pictures in magazines, and feeling that pictures in magazines influence their idea of the perfect body shape. With my research, this type of study would hard to replicate because it’s impractical to find a somewhere in the United States that has no or little media influence. The ideal woman and man portrayed in the media practically do not exist.It sets up images that fool viewers and readers to think that there are actually people that look like models. “The average American woman weighs 140 pounds and is 5’4” tall, reports Eating Disorders and Prevention, Inc. In contrast, the typical model is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds. That makes the model thinner than 98 percent of American women.

(Strahan) This makes young people have enormous pressures and when they can’t measure up to this image prevailed by the media, their self-esteem suffers. So in my research I will test girls from the ages of 13-19 from high school and college. I will give them surveys that will ask how much media they are exposed to. With questions that see if they are watching TV shows like 90210, or Melrose Place and magazines such as Seventeen, and Cosmopolitan. Then the girls can then be split into two groups; Group 1 with the girls that are exposed to little forms of media, and Group 2 with girls that are exposed to many forms of media.They then will be given another survey that will ask how much they weigh, how they see themselves, and what type of body image they desire. Body-image is being measured by the “conceptualized as a multidimensional construct that represents how individuals think, feel, and behave with regard to their own physical attributes” (Morrison , Kalin) If Group1, the group with little exposure to media, has a normal body perception and doesn’t desire a skinnier body image in contrast to Group 2.

Where Group 2, the group an immense exposure to media, has poor body perceptions and desires a skinner body.The conclusion then can be made that the amount of media exposure has an influence on body image and perception. There are many challenges that can come up during research on the “perfect body” image. Some teenage girls might show a change in how they view themselves during the course of the experiment. But it may not be because of media influence but maybe their peers influenced them or their culture demands for a certain body image. “Both peers and popular culture, independent of each other, exert influence on girls’ weight control beliefs and behaviors. (Field, Camargo, Taylor, Berkey, Colditz) If we come to the conclusion that media indeed has a great influence on body perception; how are we going to try to fix the damage media causes on many individuals? Why not media? “Social activism and social marketing approaches are suggested as methods for fighting negative media messages.

The media itself is one potential vehicle for communicating productive, accurate, and deglamorized messages about eating and shape-related disorders. ” (Thompson, Heinberg) If media has such a great influence on creating negative body image, we can use media to create a positive body image.With media showing normal body image it might help teenage girls feel less pressured to desire an unhealthy body image. Therefore, over time it will become clearer as to whether actions will be taken against the media in order to end teenagers from trying to achieve the perfect body. Teenagers need to see that being different is good and the media is only brainwashing them to be like everyone else. Hopefully with more research done to show the great effects media has on teen’s body perception and the measures they go to, to obtain that perfect body image.Media will stop putting out such a negative body image, and more of a natural, average body image.

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