Media Controls Our Body Image!

by rmari3 on November 11, 2013 - 3:36pm

Growing up in a technologically advanced society has been proven to have some disadvantages. There has been an increasingly large concern over the past decade, on what media has done to people’s self-confidence and their body image. Usually when this topic is studied researchers just look at women, but Steve H. Sohn takes a closer look at both men and women. No one may ever figure out the perpetrator for the socially created ideal body image, but there is no question about it that media reinforces the images of skinny women and masculine men every day. Sohn focuses on the media’s influence on people’s body perception, satisfaction, and social comparison as well as the outcomes from these influences such as eating disorders, depression, and low self-esteem. What the media does is it produces unrealistic images that are nearly impossible to attain, and forcing us to believe we should look like that. Therefore, this produces the distance between our actual self-perception and our ideal self, which can lead to the effects. The research was designed in such a way that participants were asked multiple questions related to different subjects related to body image, and the assessor would rate them on a point scale. For example, when testing social comparison to media images the surveyors would measure participants on a 5 point, nine item scale. Research showed that among the 134 participants, females are directly impacted by social comparisons to people in magazines and TV shows which decreases both their body perception and body satisfaction. What were really interesting were the findings among the male participants. The findings suggest, they did not find a significant effect of social comparison on men’s body perceptual gap but managed to find its direct influence on men’s body satisfaction. From the findings of this research many theoretical conclusions can be made. One conclusion of the results for the men’s findings was that it was facilitated by the fact of the level of involvement with media, rather than it directly impacting them.

I like this article a lot because it just goes to show how media directly impacts women in a negative way but also takes a look at men. The evidence showed that women are directly negatively impacted and from first-hand experience I very much agree with the results. It hasn’t been easy growing up, as a girl, when everywhere you look the media shoves in your face what ideally women should look like. Models, actresses, and even toys have all portrayed the skinny, perfectly structured image. But what we have to remember is that it is physical impossible to replicate them because the media mechanically alters the photos. The main purpose of this article is to look closely at media’s influence on women and men and if it effects people’s body perception, satisfaction and social comparison. As the media continues to reinforce the idea of what is a perfect female body and a perfect male body then we will continue to see women’s self-image perception decrease. The main assumption is that if we continue with this research we then can find how mass media influence both men’s and women’s body image differently and further figure out a way to decrease the level of body dissatisfaction. However, this can lead to implications that just media images are the sole cause of decreasing people’s body perception, satisfaction, and social comparison. The authors research focused on, if and what ways the media effects men and women. What she fails to explore is if men are not as affected as women are, then what is the reason for the media to have such a negative impact on women? This could be because women look at appearance as a very important role in their lives, or maybe it is because men have always played a hegemonic masculine role in society and women feel as though the only way to get their attention is through beauty.

Must watch! Here is a link below to a great movie by Jean Kilbourne, related to the topic of this article. Throughout the movie she emphasizes on how advertisements place women in obscure and materialistic positions as a way of selling a particular item. By doing that, society now looks at women as objects instead of human beings.
http://vimeo.com/73446465

Source:
Sohn, S. H. (2009). Body Image: Impacts of Media Channels on Men’s and Women’s Social Comparison Process, and Testing of Involvement Measurement. Atlantic Journal Of Communication, 17(1), 19-35.

Comments

I really enjoy this review because it focuses on a topic that is so related to basically everyone. Being a girl, it has always been in the back of my mind that I should look the way that the girls on TV, in movies, and in magazines look. I often catch myself throughout the day thinking about when I can fit in time to go to the gym. However, I have never really thought about how men must feel seeing the same things, too, about their own gender. I guess men do not really show their insecurities as much as women do, so the thought has never crossed my mind. It really is terrible, though, that the media creates such an image that almost everyone wants to attain, but it is not even attainable. Just like being overweight, being super skinny is just as unhealthy. So shouldn't we focus more on this? The media needs to focus more on people that embrace their bodies rather than editing the images they display and creating an unneeded sense of insecurity throughout all people.

This was a great take on the perspective of not only how women have to live with the perfect body image wherever that loo, but men as well. Even though it states above that the article did not fully exhibit how men were affected compared to women, but it did at least mention this problem throughout society as a whole. I would have liked the article to show those perspectives of what the male group goes through on a daily basis as well. Also, growing up as a female within society I can say that not only media but dolls as well have always had some sort of impact on my own body image as well. It is unfortunate that whatever the media puts up, both the make and female population look up to and want to obtain what is considered perfection and beauty. My final question would be why does media do this in the first place, and not focus on what is attainable within the society, and not what is photo shopped.

This review really had me thinking about self- image reflecting both genders in today’s society. Media really does have an effect on today’s youth and teens, portraying what is considered to be the “perfect body.” Many times when I watch TV or search the internet I find myself self-conscious about my own self-image, thinking about what is considered “skinny enough” or “pretty enough.” I do feel the media attacks the views of girls more, but in high school I shockingly learned that most eating disorders come from the male population. A student from my home town passed away from trying a dangerous diet of strictly tuna fish to gain muscle mass due to protein intake, resulting in mercury poisoning. I do believe that the media should focus more on eating right and exercising rather than glorifying a fake body perfection. I am however, really excited to know that a new Barbie has been created to show an average body structure of girls which will hopefully help eating disorders decline. This is just a small step but hopefully a start to creating a healthier way of portraying self-image.

You are absolutely right on many levels. It is true that researchers often only look at the women side being touched by self-confidence and their body image, and often forget that men can have the same problem. Maybe it happens more often with women, but it is also happening with men. Men and women every day face images of the perfect thin women or the perfect muscular men. The media are putting these images in the head of little children that will maybe later be obsessed with their body, when they shouldn't. According to a journalist from the website Canoe.com associated with the Journal of Montreal, since the 1960s, the number of young women with severe eating disorders has tripled. That is a lot.

While reading this article, I find myself mostly agreeing with your point of view. Growing up with high-tech cameras, IPhones and cameras attached to every new technology, we have turned into quite the “selfie” nation. Taking pictures of you can be a positive or negative in self-esteem. Both men and women suffer from self-esteem issues and I personally believe that it is because of media. The pressures that media will put on models and actresses to be “perfect” are absurd. Having Hollywood’s definition of “perfect” in every check-out aisle in the grocery store has mental effects and can cause even 8 year olds to start to become self-conscious and learn the wrong forms of beauty. The actresses and actors have personal makeup artists and hair crew to make them perfect and good-looking, on top of the thousands of dollars the star is willing to pay for personal reasoning, including surgeries. This article has me thinking about how I grew up. My mother and my father always told me I was beautiful and I would go to school with friends who did not pick on my personal appearance. This is different for everybody. Bullying comes into play and people who you trust can affect self-esteem. Having someone pick on your personal appearance can do more damage than thought of and can even lead to eating disorders. I personally know people, girls especially who have starved themselves or became bulimic because their size 5 frame was too stressful for them. It is very sad to see girls and even boys are so self-conscious of everything they are eating or wearing. It is important to be healthy and happy, but to have confidence is very important as well.

I completely agree with your points. Growing up in a society that expects a body image of perfection, size double zero jeans for women and muscular toned physiques for men causes everyone to feel insecure about their "imperfections." As a little girl I always dreamt of looking like the classic "bratz dolls" with big lips and small figure. I wish that this article could have included other aspects of negative perceptions in society such as the desire to be tan. So many celebrities have glowing bronze skin, and because of the insecurities in body image people have resorted to the dangers of tanning beds. This is an issue that I can't see slowing down anytime soon unless there is more awareness brought to it.

wrong post sorry

It's very hard being a teenager because you look at these magazines and you do want to have the body as the models in the magazines. But the reality is, they photoshop the image to the point where the female looks completely different. We don't realize but the average pant size in women is a size 14 in the United States. Media plays a big role in shaping how we view ourselves whether it be positive or negative. I knew a few girls who actually had eating disorders because they were very insecure with their self image. As teenagers, we are still looking and figuring out who we are. Looking at these models with a perfect body, we hope to achieve that. In order to achieve that, some girls take extreme measures rather than diet or exercise. Media needs to focus on the real women in America. They need to make a positive influence on teenagers about their self image. Even when I was in high school, I felt like I could be a lot skinnier. Eventually, you learn to accept your body. But having models in front of magazines who are double zeros is just unrealistic. No one realizes the impact media does have on people's self image. But the fact of it is, most Americans are not that skinny. It's just sad to think how insecure certain people are because people need to embrace their body and who they are.

It's very hard being a teenager because you look at these magazines and you do want to have the body as the models in the magazines. But the reality is, they photoshop the image to the point where the female looks completely different. We don't realize but the average pant size in women is a size 14 in the United States. Media plays a big role in shaping how we view ourselves whether it be positive or negative. I knew a few girls who actually had eating disorders because they were very insecure with their self image. As teenagers, we are still looking and figuring out who we are. Looking at these models with a perfect body, we hope to achieve that. In order to achieve that, some girls take extreme measures rather than diet or exercise. Media needs to focus on the real women in America. They need to make a positive influence on teenagers about their self image. Even when I was in high school, I felt like I could be a lot skinnier. Eventually, you learn to accept your body. But having models in front of magazines who are double zeros is just unrealistic. No one realizes the impact media does have on people's self image. But the fact of it is, most Americans are not that skinny. It's just sad to think how insecure certain people are because people need to embrace their body and who they are.

I totally agree!!! Media has such a huge impact. People always think it just impacts us as women but that’s not it. Media can also attack men. Although, it is true that it greatly has a negative impact more on women. I can relate to this as a girl and an athlete. I'm a gymnast, and when we watch the Olympics or D1 gymnasts compete we always are given the vision of short lean and muscular girls. This is an image we see on TV, in Universities and gymnastics catalog advertisements, and like you said even the Barbie gymnastics edition. As we look at these girls it kind of feels like if you aren't going to look exactly like them you will live in a shadow. This is a very structured image that is nearly never broken. Like you said, most people don't take that step back and realize that TV shows are edited and photos are altered to perceive this "perfect" image. But another question is, "What is perfect?" "As the media continues to reinforce the idea of what is a perfect female body and a perfect male body then we will continue to see women’s self-image perception decrease." That is exactly correct. When people look at what media has portrayed to be "perfect" and realize that they aren't "perfect", there is going to be no other response then defeat, negativity, and a type of self-destruction in someone’s image. I admit, just like most other woman would, that appearance is important because this can determine so many things in life like job status or something as simple as self-confidence. The only thing I would have liked your article research to explore more was the differences in how men were affected from media then women.

I really enjoyed reading your article. The title immediately caught my eye because I strongly agree with the fact that the media controls our body image and the way we are "supposed" to look. Society has such a huge impact on the way people act these days just through the ways celebrities act and things that are portray in magazines and on TV. I don't think its right at all but it happens and we have to deal with it. I agree with the arguments that you made about how the media creates unrealistic images that we see and think are the definition of "beautiful". Until after reading your article, I never realized how much men the media affects men just as much as women. I think when many people hear body images and the media they immediately think about women but men are just the same. There are just as many high standards that are set for men through the media as there are for women. I think that this is such a good topic to discuss because some people don't realize that. Overall, it was a very well written article and a great topic!

I had to comment on your post, I think it is a very important topic !!! Girls, mostly during adolescence see "perfect girls" everywhere through media. They all think that they have to look like them to be liked and that if you you are not "perfect" it is not good. But the real question is, what is perfect? Is a women really perfect is she is skinny? Personally, my answer is NO. Young girls should know that before they fall in the bad effects of media's body images. It is also true that it might affect men, they may not react the same way, but they are still affected. Evert person in magazines or on TV, women or men, is good looking. For example in movies, the popular girl are always skinny, and for boys they are always muscled and the less good looking are usually loosers. This image should be change, "normal" looking persons should be in magazines.
This is my interpretation of this topic! You did a good job and chosed a really good topic!

I love this topic. this topic hits really close to home for me. i could on for days talking about this topic. It is very important that young girls feel beautiful and that they love themselves. the media completely ruins this for teenage girls by showing them "how they're supposed to look". personally, i was a victim of this. starting in the 8th grade i was a late bloomer and i saw how my friends were developing faster than me and boys were talking to them. i looked at magazines and loving how those women looked. but those are not really women. i suffered from bulimia the past 5 years and thats why im so passionate about this topic. i am on the road to recovery and i will do just about anything to help bring this topic to the surface. great job.

I really agree with your article. I feel that as a young woman it is something that we have all experienced and I really like how your post also speaks about the influence that media also plays on male body image. I feel that female body image is more mainly focused on and that male body image is overlooked and that it is something that should be given the same amount of attention. It seems that your article doesn’t really go into detail about male body image but it however does state that it is a problem that also needs to be addressed. The media unfortunately makes many people feel self-conscious about their bodies.