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?


Your topic is extremely important in today's society and should be given more thought. The media is constantly bombarding adolescents and even young children with the idea that you have to buy certain products or be a certain weight to be beautiful. The media is taking away their childhood and forcing them to grow up faster then is needed. One could argue that it is not just the media that is advertising and promoting the "ideal" body image and that other factors are involved. But the media most definitely is the most damaging cause of it all. I stand behind the moral value "do no harm" and this is exactly what the media is doing, they are harming innocent children who don't know any better then to follow what the rest of the public is doing. I believe that it is possible for the media to create a healthier body image, but i don't see it happening any time soon.

Throughout the years the media has evolved into something much greater than promotion. It has become practically a rule book that they expect everyone to follow and live by. The media has taken the opportunity to set the social norms and the fashion standards. Having influence on a vast fraction of the world, especially young and vulnerable teenagers, the media should take the power and impact they possess and transform it into good and inspiring things. However they have done the complete opposite. The media has the power to alter people’s minds to believe that the only way to be accepted into society is to look, weight, dress, talk and even act a certain way. The media is the most powerful entity on earth. It has the ability to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent. It has to power to control and brainwash people into anything. It is sad to say but the media is self-handily corrupting the future generations and building them on complexes. I strongly agree that that media could change the world for the better if they begin to promote healthy body image, accept everyone for who they are and mainly stop harming the innocent.
Unfortunately, the media portrays advertisements in a way that makes us want to buy a particular product, or keeps us interested enough to want to find out more information. Everything that the media does is strategically planned. They know exactly what people want and don’t want to hear. Even if we would try to avoid the media and its advertising, it is practically impossible only because it is everywhere. We find adverting, on billboards, in newspapers, magazines, television, on the radio, in movies and even in video games. I think it is ridiculous that our lives are being controlled by other people. The media is a strong evil force that knows what they want, but the only reason they are successful is because we the consumers buy into their traps. We must always remember the media is as powerful as you make it and beauty is defined by you.

I think that the article is very accurate in terms of the influence of media on today's society. It is horrible that as a population, we still but from companies such as A&F who promote such ridiculous ideas. Also, this phenomenon creates many insecurities in the population that shouldn't be there, along with these comes a ground to stand on whilst judging, a reason one might say. However, as a population, i believe that it is our duty to steer clear of such things and that they will always exist. We need to be strong headed and support the right companies, take Dove for example.

I think that the article is very accurate in terms of the influence of media on today's society. It is horrible that as a population, we still but from companies such as A&F who promote such ridiculous ideas. Also, this phenomenon creates many insecurities in the population that shouldn't be there, along with these comes a ground to stand on whilst judging, a reason one might say. However, as a population, i believe that it is our duty to steer clear of such things and that they will always exist. We need to be strong headed and support the right companies, take Dove for example.

I believe that in today's day and age the media has a lot of power when it comes to sending messages to the general population on any issue or topic. Perhaps the media are sending a subtle message (which could be unintentional) that people need to look and act a certain way in order to be accepted. However we as a society accept this kind of behavior and allow companies to continue to target us and tell us what we need. However the media could be sending a message that something is important to us and we interpret the message in a different way. It all depends on how you view yourself and others around you that determine what you take in and how that information affects your life.

It is not a suprise anymore that mass media and targeted marketing makes public images of body type normal people can never hope to ressemble. I think that instead of shouting at the moon and be upset of all the ''mass media'' that is feeding us concepts of what we can never be, we should simply learn to disregard this kind of publicity or at least not take it litterally. I believe it starts with our perception. If we teach people how to perceive certain things and how to react or not to react at this kind of publicity we would most probably be much less affected by all this. We can't blame external factors forever and just be mad at society for the way it is and at the media for making us feel bad. We should just stop feeling bad about it. Its just perspective. We should be intelligent enough to not let ourselves be influenced and to teach our youth not to be influenced.

I strongly agree with you, mass media won’t change their advertisement methods, but where a change could happen is within the people’s perception of beauty. Mass media mostly affect young children in seek of identity because they can be easily influenced which efficiently serves the marketing purpose making youth “used as a mean to an end”. They also take celebrities as a model to follow, and forces them to acquires undesirable needs and act older to fit in what they perceive to be “cool”. Recently Modeling in Milan has adopted a number of rules which forces feminine models to present medical information to seek evidence of eating disorder issues. They also force them to be within a healthy weight range and have an adequate alimentation. I hope that this small step along with many awareness campaign such as Dove help reshaping the perception of the mass population affected by mass media.

I completely agree with you. The media has a lot of influence over people, especially teenagers. At some point, everyone has been influenced by the media, especially in the beauty and weight category. Our society is obsessed with looks, and that is the first thing anyone will notice about you. Studies have been done to prove that more attractive people get certain opportunities over less attractive people. What's defined as attractive usually depends on what the media shows us. The media puts a lot of pressure on people to look and even act a certain way. They target teenagers who are already in an identity vs. self conflict stage and the added pressure by the media makes people think they will never be good enough. Whether you develop an eating disorder or not to loose weight, it can still leave psychological problems when you think negatively about yourself. Will people ever be able to think for themselves and not rely on the media?

I STRONGLY agree with you, the media has been taking a too much importance place in our lives. They are now everywhere on television, on our way to school, on websites, in magazines etc. They can almost control our decisions about what we want to eat, what we want to where, how we behave etc. They created the ‘fake’ image of what is a perfect person. Yes it is perfect, but in their way of thinking, it is really perfect, HEALTHY? In fact no! Teenagers are getting sick because of that. Boys wants too be as muscle as Calvin Klein model and girls like Victoria’s Secret model so they go too much at they gym or they just eat nothing. Media are now controlling almost all of the population of the world and it is a problem.

Your article brings up very important issues about the unrealistic standards the media places on young men and women and I thought how you presented and listed these issues was effective. What I would like to bring to your attention is how differently the media targets men and women. Your piece approaches advertising as if it sends the same messages to all teenagers. However, isn’t it interesting how women’s bodies in advertising are treated very differently from males? Ads that feature both men and women tend to portray one as always being stronger or dominant over the other. More often than not it is the women who are portrayed as the object and are submissive while men are powerful and dominate. Therefore, advertisements for girls reinforce a very specific look, often dubbed the ‘waif’-look for the striking resemblance to the bodies of abandoned or starving children, which paints them as fragile. While male ads focus on reinforcing a dominant role, both visually and in their actions, as well as a very narrow definition of manhood as portrayed by the man box. So while the media presents both young girls and boys with unrealistic standards to live up to and you do a good job of illustrating this, your analysis might be furthered by taking into consideration how a ‘healthy’ or ‘idealized’ body image, as depicted in advertisements, is incredibly gender-specific.

Word Art illustrating the differences of word use in marketing for girl’s and boy’s toy and the ‘Man’ Box: