The Negative Influence of Media on the Body Image of Teenage Girls

The media affects people in many different ways and can negatively affect teenage girls and their health. “The average runway model is estimated to be 5 feet 9 inches tall and to weigh in at 110 [pounds] resulting in a [body mass index] of just 16” (Klonick). A healthy body mass index is anywhere from 18.5 to 24.9. Seeing these underweight models can make young girls wish to be thin. The media negatively influences the body image of teenage girls which leads to an eating disorder. “Body image is the concept that each individual forms about his or her own appearance” (Lankford 6).

Many different influences can impact the body image of a teenage girl. “Often how a person pictures their body is very different from their actual appearance” (Lankford 12). Sadly, this distorted view on their bodies’ appearance can generate a negative body image. “Body image is influenced by environmental experiences, and behaviors, which interact to shape a person’s attitude toward and perceptions of… her body.

The development to negative body image comes from both historical and proximal events” (Reel 69).

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A variety of these different experience impacts a teenage girl and the way she views her body. “Dissatisfaction with one’s physical appearance can lead to a negative body image” (Lankford 13). The leading cause of eating disorders is a negative body image. Many of the negative body images are brought on by psychological and interpersonal factors. Some of the problems most commonly linked to these disorders include low self-esteem, depression, and stress from traumatic situations such as…death (Cotter 37).

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Psychological factors that can contribute to [a negative body image) are: low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or lack of self-control in life, depression, anxiety, anger, stress, or loneness (National). “Interpersonal factors that can contribute to eating disorders are: troubled personal relationships, difficulty expressing emotions and feelings, history of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight, or a history of physical or sexual abuse” (National). All of these factors can cause a young girl to have a low self-esteem and a distorted body image. Another source of a distorted body image is the media.

Today’s media has caused girls to be more self-conscious about their bodies. “Because physical appearance has become so important in contemporary culture…body image is frequently connected to self-esteem” (Lankford 12). In fact, the media is so prevalent it today’s society that it has the ability to affect nearly everyone. “The fashion industry affects everybody-anyone who opens a magazine, anyone who watches TV” (Celizic). The media’s ability to reach nearly every person has a negative affect because of what the media chooses to portray. “Sociocultural standards of feminine beauty are present in almost all forms of popular media, barraging women with images that portray what is considered to be the ‘ideal body?” (Serder). This “ideal body” that the media shows is a body that may actually be unhealthy or even dangerous for certain teenagers. “Such standards of beauty are almost completely unattainable for most women; a majority of models displayed on television and in advertisement are well below what is considered healthy body weight. Mass media’s use of such unrealistic models sends an implicit message [to a woman) that in order for a woman to be beautiful, she must be unhealthy” (Serder). “What designers are looking for is a model who in all sense will resemble a hanger when the clothing is on her” (Celizic). In other words, the people advertising wish for the models to be as thin as possible in order to focus on the clothes. The teenage girls, contrarily, only see the “ideal body” that they should wish and attempt to be. Frequently, girls see the models as being perfect. “Seeing super-thin models can play a role in causing anorexia” (Hellmich).

Many girls wish to be like the slender women, attempting to obtain their body type through an eating disorder. The media has caused women to think that they have to go to extreme measures in order to earn and maintain the ideal body. “The promotion of the thin, sexy ideal in our culture has created a situation where the majority of girls…do not like their bodies…and body dissatisfaction can lead girls to participate in very unhealthy behaviors to control weight” (Hellmich). “Images of thinner-than-average women are a ‘significant cause’ of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia” (Casey 83). “There has been a plethora of research to indicate that women are negatively affected by constant exposure to models that fulfill the unrealistic media ideal of beauty” (Serdar). Unfortunately, the media has caused girls at extremely young age to be more concerned with their body. “Girls are being taught very young that thin and sexy is the way they want to be when they grow up. So they’d better start working on that now” (Hellmich). “Concern over weight and appearance related issues often surface early in female’s development, and continues throughout the lifespan. The importance of physical appearance is emphasized and reinforced early in most girls’ development” (Sedar). All ages of girls are being barraged with the message that they have to be extremely skinny to be considered sexy (Hellmich).

“The pressure to look thin is prevalent and rampant throughout our society” (Celizic). A great deal of research has been performed that shows that girls at young ages wish to be thinner. “Studies have shown that nearly half of females age 6-8 have stated that they want to be slimmer” (Serdar). “[Other] research studies estimate that eighty to ninety percent of females report body dissatisfaction” (Reel 69). Sadly, many young girls have acted on these wishes of being slimmer. “Studies suggest that as many as eight percent of girls under the age of thirteen have…dieted” (Lankford 67). This research shows that various factors such as societal pressure and low self-esteem put teens at risk of developing eating disorders (Staff). “Children who suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy often develop negative feelings about themselves which can lead to an eating disorder” (Cotter 42). The raising of girls emphasizes that they should try to be thin. “When compared to males, females are… more likely to engage in self-loathing about body size and weight and have a greater drive for thinness… women are also more likely to be uncomfortable about their weight and have higher anxiety about how others perceive their body” (Reel 69).

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The Negative Influence of Media on the Body Image of Teenage Girls. (2022, Sep 20). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-negative-influence-of-media-on-the-body-image-of-teenage-girls-essay

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