The Impact Of Mass Media On Female Teenagers

2335 words - 10 pages

The Harmful Effects of Media on Teenage Girls’ Self Image
Media is one of the most effective tools in the world. People learn more from the media than any other single source of information. No matter where people look, they are constantly assaulted with images and ads, whether it is online, watching television, or even walking down the street. Because of the media’s ease of accessibility, it is vital that America understands the subliminal messaging behind the entertainment and advertising, not necessarily for the adults’ sake, but for the sake of their children’s impressionable minds. With the average teenager spending 10 and a half hours a day absorbing the media’s messages, it is ...view middle of the document...

Advertising alone has gone way out of control. Researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists state, “The average American is exposed to about 3000 advertising messages a day, and globally corporations spend over $620 billion each year to make their products seem desirable and to get us to buy them” (qtd. in Bobbi7-ga par. 7). What children don’t understand is that the people, they are idolizing in these ads and shows are not as perfect as their picture (see Fig. 1). Stars go through a gauntlet of re-touching to send the message that computer enhanced and edited pictures are beautiful.

Fig. 1. Comparison or a photo of Madonna. Left is the original and right is after digital editing and touch ups. Source: Sangent, Madonna Before and After Photoshop Retouch. n.d. Sangent. Web. 30 Jul 2012. <>

Young girls who see these photos and think Stars look like this normally, are imbued with an idealistic bar, set for the achievement of the perfect body and look that is actually impossible to accomplish because it only exists in fantasy. When children attempt to become this unattainable ideal and fail, they can become destructive. Even becoming successful in media can be harmful because stars are portrayed as these people of perfection to the world and the added pressure of trying to maintain something close to the unrealistic figure they are shown as can cause them to resort to drastic measures.
One way that teen girls endeavor to obtain these unrealistic figures is through dieting. Radar Programs, a national program that specializes in the treatment of eating and related disorders reports statistics that, “While only one out of ten high school girls are overweight, nine out of ten high school juniors and seniors diet. 42% of girls in first through third grades state they want to be thinner and twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less. Many models meet the Body Mass Index physical criteria for Anorexia” (“Media Influence”). Courtney Winston, a registered dietitian and writer for, defines anorexia as, “having a below normal body weight for height, a BMI below 18.5 would meet the criteria” (par. 3). Statistics like these are proof that mass media is effecting young women in America. Alison Brzenchek, a health education coordinator for the University Health Service and a specialist in eating disorders, finds the results of a survey, conducted by the University of Michigan, about teens and eating disorders alarming. She points out that, "We know that obsession with weight loss and dissatisfaction with body image are common among American women, both college-age and older, but it's very sad to see those same trends show up in this survey. These young girls, many of whom aren't even women yet, are already going down the same road, buying into the same diet mentality, as...

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