Barbie

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In my last post I stated that I would make the connection between the models in media to younger girls. Well, the sad truth is that body dissatisfaction is becoming more and more common with young girls. Nearly half of females ages 6-8 have stated they want to be slimmer (Serdar). 40% of 14 year olds want to loose weight and 2/3 of adolescent females reported dieting at some point in their lives (Serdar). This dissatisfaction can be related to watching TV or reading magazines. According to Serdar, kids that watch more TV along with music videos are more likely to be unhappy with the way they looked.

I know that when I was eight years old, the way I looked was the last thing from my mind. I was more concerned with dressing and playing with my Barbie. However, is it possible that Barbie could in fact also be promoting an unrealistic body image? Take a look at this picture and judge for yourself what Barbie in real life would look like.

I don’t think anyone looks like that, or would want to for that matter, but the problem is that Barbie represents a miniature version of perfection. I am not suggesting that every parent should boycott Barbie, but I am trying to make a point that the “perfect body” is surrounding us at a young age in multiple forms, not just TV. For a better understanding of how impractical Barbie’s measurements are, here is a comparison of average measurements shrunk down and compared to the doll.

I think that Barbie is a great toy, along with her movies and music, etc., but maybe parents should talk to their kids about her and make sure they understand that she is just a toy. By reassuring your child at a young age what is real and what isn’t, they may be able to make that distinction better when they grow up. Obviously, they understand that she isn’t a real living person, but I am talking about the fact that she wouldn’t be realistic if she were real. In my next post I will talk about more things we may believe to be real, but actually are fake.

Cited:

Serdar, Kasey L. “Female Body Image and the Mass Media: Perspectives on How Women Internalize the Ideal Beauty Standard.” Westminster College: A Private Comprehensive Liberal Arts College in Salt Lake City, UT, Offering Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in Liberal Arts and Professional Programs, including Business, Nursing, Education and Communication. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.

Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

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In the last post I talked about why I, personally, have a problem with media’s portrayal of beauty. Now I would like to talk about some of the negative effects that portrayal has on women. According to The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, 60% of women in the United States rate their body weight too high. Perhaps these women are a tad bit overweight and only speak the truth. However, it is also possible that these women are being too hard on themselves. Technically, I would consider myself a little overweight, but according to my Body Mass Index, I am healthy. This difference has to do with the way you see your body.

Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are both serious conditions that relate to a distorted body image. Anorexia Nervosa is “an eating disorder in which people have an intense fear of gaining weight and can become dangerously thin” (WebMD.com). Bulimia Nervosa, on the other hand, is an “eating disorder that involves binging on food, followed by purging” (WebMD.com). 3-10% of females ages 15-29 could be anorexic or bulimic (Serdar). Both of these conditions have to do with the person trying to take back some control. Think about it, if you can’t achieve the body that you are constantly bombarded with through images in the media, you do feel somewhat out of control.  “Eating disorders are a product of increasing pressures for women in our society to achieve an ultra-slender body” (Stice and Shaw). There are also other harmful effects to being exposed to a “thin-ideal.” According to Stice and Shaw, depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity, and body dissatisfaction also result, which I would venture to say we have all experienced.

Many of the models shown on television, advertisements, and other forms of popular media are approximately 20% below the ideal body weight, meeting the criteria for anorexia nervosa (Serdar). We will discuss this more in detail in the next post and also relate that to young girls.

Cites:

“The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report.”      Http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/contentarticles/52%20Beauty/dove_white_paper_final.pdf. Dove, Sept. 2004. Web. Nov. 2013.

Serdar, Kasey L. “Female Body Image and the Mass Media: Perspectives on How Women Internalize the Ideal Beauty Standard.” Westminster College: A Private Comprehensive Liberal Arts College in Salt Lake City, UT, Offering Undergraduate and Graduate     Degrees in Liberal Arts and Professional Programs, including Business, Nursing, Education and Communication. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.

Stice, Eric, and Heather E. Shaw. “Adverse Effects of the Media Portrayed Thin-Ideal on Women and Linkages To Bulimic Symptomatology.” Guliford Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 2013.

“WebMD – Better Information. Better Health.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.

How Media Effects Me

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Before we dive into the research, I want to give a little insight into why I, personally, have a problem with media and the way it portrays beauty. I am a very influenced person. Not meaning that if you offer me drugs or alcohol, I’ll take it because I can’t think for myself, but I mean influenced by the world I see. If I watch a movie about outer space, I’ll want to be an astronaut. If I see a picture of the Alps, I will want to climb them. If I see a surfing movie, you can bet I’ll be practicing my balance for the next few weeks. I associate the things I see and automatically build a life and a story behind them and this is where the problem lies.

On TV or in magazines we see beautiful people all the time. We hear about their jet setting adventures and the extravagant lives they lead. The pictures we see and the articles we read are all we know of them personally. To me, I know I see those pictures and associate their hair or their great skin or perfect bodies with their success. It becomes a blurred line in my mind where it is almost like, “If I could dress like them and act like them, maybe I’d have their life too.”

Obviously there are a lot of reasons to why people feel bad about themselves when seeing the “perfect woman” on screen, but for me it is almost like a reminder that I will never acquire the life I want, due to the fact I will never look a certain way. I hope that one day this divide will be broken and every woman can say they are properly represented through the media’s eyes and remember that beauty does not equal success.

How Media Has Changed Beauty

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I am going to embark on a project to analyze media’s role today in the portrayal of beauty, aimed specifically at women. The goal of this project is not necessarily to point fingers at media, but to show the consequences they have created by only advertising a certain type of “beauty.” I hope to do this by using sources such as websites, videos,  and case studies.

I consider myself very independent from what the world may think of me, however, I too have found myself questioning what I look like. Am I pretty enough, am I skinny enough, is my nose too round, is my hair too crazy? I quickly am able to get society’s voice out of my head and feel content again, but my concern is with the women that can’t. I would venture to say that almost every woman, whether consciously or subliminally, has been at least slightly affected by media, and that is why I care about this topic.