An Analysis of North American Media Influence on Physical Condition North Americans are subject to numerous amount of media exploiting their beliefs for profit. Media extends to the source of how one may perceive ones beauty and quality of ones physical condition. By continually bombarding the public eye with advertisements aggressively enforcing a thin body image and muscular definition, media causes viewers to desire these body images and discover methods to reach this image. Inevitably leading to viewers abusing their bodies with poor methods of dieting, and creating unhealthy bodies. Contemporary North American media is characterized by its emphasis on body image, which distorts our perception and expectation of our physical bodies. Analysis of men’s, women’s and adolescents’ thoughts and actions reveals the negative consequences of these media influences.
North American media distorts the self-perspective men have on their physical image, causing them to do extreme activities to achieve these false expectations. Males are targeted by many advertisements, encouraging a tone and muscular body image. For several years, these messages have been increasing within media. Sam Ferniano & Mark Nickerson from the Center for Media Literacy say “Men’s magazines published significantly more advertisements and articles about changing body shapes”. These constant messages to achieve a remarkably tone body forces men to re-evaluate their physical condition. Nevertheless, low self-esteem would be found for men who do not have this type of body strongly enforced by media. Furthermore, while examining any form of media, it can be noticed that most men are given to certain kind of stereotype and portrays men as less realistic, more perfect and more predictable (Farniano & Nickerson).
There for, each male character obtains similar characteristics that the public has labelled as manly traits. Moreover, by defining the ideal man, media creates “Narrowed notions to what men can do” (Farniano & Nickerson), causing males to believe that other characteristics such as being emotional and caring, are not part of the ideal man. By altering the expectations men have for their physical condition, media causes low self-esteem in men. Additionally, media imposes ideal activities men should participate in. By enforcing the idea to have large amount of muscle for men, media encourages importance for the use of a gym. Alternatively, we notice media influencing certain groups of men, such as stereotyping black males as athletes and entertainers. These roles “Mislead young black male viewers in thinking success is only a dribble or dance step away” (Wood). Under those circumstances, men of all races are subject to believe these stereotypes, subsequently causing men to change their personal perception of themselves to match the stereotype.
With false expectations North American media creates for men, there are negatives consequences that follow. As a result of the influence media has on men, they believe some of their present traits are unwanted because it does not follow the message given by media. Therefore, men are more apt to withdraw from specific behaviour unsupported by media. Moreover, negative consequences follow such as being “Discouraged from pursuing many positive traits that are perceived as unmanly…including the ability to feel a range of emotions, including fear, hurt, confusion or despair” (Furniano & Nickerson). However, the traits stated above are indeed qualities women look for in a mate (Gaudio & Taplin). Meanwhile, stereotypes built by media removes the idea that men would be caring beings. “When someone is shown taking care of a child, it’s usually the mother, not the father” (Ferniano & Nickerson).
Therefore, men do not wish to obtain these qualities because media enforces the idea that they are not qualities fit for an ideal man. By avoiding these characteristics, males are subject to appear as uncaring and uninvolved in family life, qualities important for women who are looking for a well-established relationship. Furthermore, by attempting to pursue these expectations of the ideal physical condition, men would be prepared to rely on substance for aid to quickly obtain the condition media compels (Gaudio & Taplin).
By drastically increasing the amount of workouts in ones daily routine, removing this would cause In addition, men would likely rely to “Continuous intense workouts that can lead to issues such as addiction” (Gaudio & Taplin). Over exercise may lead to possible overstretching or tearing of ligaments, pulling muscles or tendons, and increased resting heart rate. (Diranian) Several negative consequences for those who wish to listen to media and their influence may occur, a risk that easily leads to poor physical condition. Incidentally, one may examine that pursuing these expectations set my media may lead to the opposite of the idea created.
Women are highly affected by the expectation North American culture creates of the female body, altering their self-esteem and behavior. Similar to the influence utilized on men, women are subject to several messages by the media primarily centered on physical condition. These result in “Young women urged to pursue beauty and sex appeal” (Ferniano & Nickerson). This influence has causes women to re-evaluate their personal priorities and making physical conditioning the primary priority. However positive health is favorable, women are concentrating to match the media’s interpretation of beauty, which has drastically changed. “The ideal female body became progressively thinner over the last 20 years” (Leit, Pope & Gary). This is hazardous for the female populace since it will lower their self-esteem, resulting in the lack of confidence one would hold for ones image. Likewise, throughout several decades, media has increased the amount of influence it has on body image. “The 2000s shows a larger influence of the media on women’s body image than do those from the 1990s” (Medical News Today).
Evidently, women who notice the slimness of females portrayed in the media judge their own bodies strictly. A Glamour magazine survey showed that “61% of respondents felt ashamed of their hips, 64% felt embarrassed by their stomachs, while 72% were ashamed of their thighs” (Rader Programs). Once information as such is examined, we may notice that media exposes the public to a negative influence that destroys ones self-esteem. In addition, media distorts the expectation of its female viewers by exposing them to unhealthy models. “The majority of runway models meet the Body Mass Index criteria to be considered anorexic” (Rader Programs). By displaying anorexic models, media is distorting women’s expectation on what is beauty, resulting to females believing that anorexia is beauty. Therefore, women who attempt to mimic these models and their physical appearance risk anorexia and several other health issues themselves.
Negative consequences such as eating disorders accompany women who attempt to reach the false expectation North American media has developed on physical condition. Several health risks are possible for women who chose to absorb the messages media delivers that thinness is something positive. “Among women, it has been hypothesized that cultural ideals of thinness may contribute to the rising prevalence of eating disorders” (Leit, Pope & Gary). Several other health issues are my follow those who listen to this influence such as low-self-esteem, depression, obesity and bulimia. These risks all originate to how thin media personalities have become. “Media depicting ultra-thin actresses and models significantly increased women’s concerns about their bodies, including how dissatisfied they felt and their likelihood of engaging in unhealthy eating behaviors such as excessive dieting “(Media News Today). Additionally, this statement affects more and more women, causing women to believe that their bodies are not beautiful like those shown within the media.
Furthermore, displeasure with the female body has become so common that it’s considered a norm among women (Medial News Today). Subsequently, the discomfort women have with their bodies is a result of the media altering the definition of beauty: unnatural and unhealthily thin bodies (Medial News Today). Nevertheless, with the constants reminders women receive from the media that they are not beautiful unless being as ultra-thin as the models depicted, women will attempt to mimic the poor physical condition of these models, leading to similar consequences the media personalities suffer from: anorexia, bulimia & excessive dieting. The behavior of adolescents is also manipulated by North American media, resulting in a decrease of self-confidence about their body image. During adolescence, teens are influenced by their surrounding peers and environment. Noticeably, adolescents are more affected by media than ever before.
Young boys are constantly reminded of how they must act as they mature. “Boys learn what it means to be a man from family and peers” (Ferniano & Nickerson). Above all, media is putting great emphasis on the physical condition young boys must meet in the future. Furthermore, media appears to be influencing adolescent boys with several different methods. More and more toys introduced to children support the expectation media has created of the human body. “GI Joe have become increasingly muscular over time” (Leit, Pope & Gary). This influencing on toys introduces the distorted image of physical condition to boys at a young age. Body image for males have focused on increasing weight and shoulder/muscular shape (Achtenberg), resulting in adolescents to concentrate on this altered expectation of the physical condition set by media.
Additionally, the size of their bodies is a rising concern for adolescent girls. We notice that they often feel flawed if their weight, hips and breast don’t match those of models and actresses (Rader Programs). Likewise, young children are even criticizing their weight at increasingly young ages. According to a study from the University of Central Florida “Nearly 50% of girls aged three to six were already concerned about their weight” (Rader Programs). By influencing the expectation for these children, they will grow up with the mindset that media has put upon them. With so much influence, girls are blinding themselves concerning world issues and concentrating on their weight. “Adolescent girls are more afraid of gaining weight that getting cancer, losing their parents or nuclear war” (Rader Programs). Considering these distorted priorities, young girls may be led to mature into women oblivious to more important issues in their environment.
Equally, media influence on these young girls are causing them to re-evaluate what gives them happiness. With the impact media has for girls, the content within their messages support the idea that “Female happiness and success are tied to physical appearance” (Achtenberg), resulting in young girls to think that without the perfect body, they cannot be happy. Subsequently, many forms of media are influencing adolescents about their physical appearance. This may lead to several health issues for this group of people so easily influenced by their surroundings. Adolescents who chose to follow these expectations created by North American media risk the possibility of serious consequences, such as substance abuse. Influence from media is very strong for adolescents. During their time of transition from child to adult, several teens will listen to advise given by anyone that may aid them be successful in their future.
However media inputs several life goals for teens, their influence and messages about physical condition is threatening for these young people in development. By instructing young girls that they must be thin to be liked in the future, “81% of ten-year-old girls experience a fear of being fat” (Achtennberg). This is quite hazardous for these young girls, because they may do extreme actions to avoid this fear, such as excessive dieting, bulimia, and completely avoiding eating food entirely. By doing so, the bodies of these young girls are at risk at disturbing the proper process of growth, leading to unhealthy grown bodies in their adulthood. Nevertheless, boys are also at risk to dangerous consequences. Young adolescent boys that are influenced by the media and its expectations set concerning physical condition may also partake in dangerous behavior such as the discovery and dissemination of anabolic steroids (Leit, Pope & Gary).
Use of steroids in the bodies of growing teenage boys could lead to health issues such as heart problems, high blood pressure and permanent damage to the liver in the future (Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Use). Alternatively, athletic males would aim to improve their physical performance to make the goals that the media puts upon their bodies quickly attainable. However we notice that “Athletic males may have an increased risk of drinking, violence and abusing drugs” (Diranian) Therefore, with the increased influence media has over the ideal physical condition for both young males and females the risk of several health consequences may affect them in the future.
North American media has established the ideal body image for men and women by enforcing the idea of muscularity and thinness. The exposition of tone men and ultra-thin models within the media supports the thought that this is perfection. These impositions of what is beauty is being put in the minds of adolescents and young children with the use of magazines and toys.
By creating expectations that they presume are ideal for a successful adult, younger children are subject to distorted priorities for their future. Men, women, and adolescents alike are subject to believing that they must reach the expectations set by media. However, several health issues such as addiction, substance abuse, and anorexia are possible for one who attempt these physical conditions for one’s body. Finally, the power North American media possesses over our idea of the perfect body leads the discussion of their concern about the public’s health and wellbeing.
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