Should Media Promote a "Healthier" Body Image?
by Coloma on February 12, 2014 - 10:50pm
Should media promote a “healthier” body image?
There is much debate regarding the impact of media on the body image. According to “Body Image in the Media is an Unhealthy Picture”, the representation of body image is mainly controlled by mass media through consumer advertisements, magazines, fashion shows, movies and now toys. Many parents, medical authorities and cultura critics expressed their concern about a highly unattainable body type diffused on the media for marketing purpose (Ballaro, Beverly & Wagner, Geraldine). These false images have lead men and women into being exclusive consumers of new products: cosmetics and new improved diets to promote thinness and youth, to the aging population. The media has created a dependency relation between the consumer and the product, a product that would make them feel ‘’insufficient’’ if not purchased. The display of such controversial images on the internet, magazine and news have impacted a young population trying to fit in that ideal perception and feel accepted. Media has affected the integrity and the freedom of expression of individuals with that urge to induce people into having specific expectation of their bodies (Chittom, Lynn-nore, Finley, Laura). A clear case of empowering body image is the scandal of the Abercrombie & Fitch brand. The CEO of the A&F brand, Mike Jeffries, had made displeasing comment on how he did not want “fat” or “not so cool” kids to wear his clothes. Finally, one of the many outcomes of this current flow of controlled information is the sign of body dysmorphic disorders (BDD) and eating disorder at an early age.
On the other hand, a group of psychiatrist pointed out that many of the young teenagers affected by mass media have physiological predisposition attributed to dysfunctional childhood outcomes. The article titled “Body Image is Influenced by Many Factors, not Just the Media.”, mentions that more than a millions of people try new improved ways to lose or gain, yet only a few of them succumb to an eating disorder (Driscoll, Sally & Campbell, Tamara). The promotion of a hard attainable body is crucial for many industries such as the fashion industries, and many marketing business, since it is in their main interest to make more profit. They use appealing characters such as celebrities, because of their charisma and their influence on the population. Many companies in the field of cosmetics, clothing, magazines, show business and even sports, depend on the impact celebrities have on the mass of population. Another tool of marketing are sponsorship, financially supporting stars by wearing a specific brand with the hope that others hoping to resemble him will follow his style or habits. The media has indeed created idols for their own “self-interest”, so that their business keep on running which wouldn’t be the case if the final desired product could be easily achieved.
In my opinion it is clear that the influence of media has evolved abruptly in the past years, and having a media-driven culture has lead into a concerning amount of body image issues. I believe that media should try to focus towards an older public instead of the young generation in seek of identity. More awareness campaigns should be advertised and or media filters applied. The fashion industry should also be required to have models within a range that ensures healthiness, it could be primordial to have ‘’idols’’ that are healthy. So would it be possible for the media to promote a “healthier” body image?