Body Image and the Mass Media

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The media plays a significant role in shaping cultural impression about the body, and provides an obvious development of personal attitudes toward our bodies. Media focuses mainly on idealized imagery of the body and with the message of having the desirable body image. The media is targeting teens through magazines. Some of the messages those magazines give especially Seventeen Magazine is that the body is the key for adolescent identity, particularly for girls. The body is a consuming project and important for self definition for adolescent girls.

Adolescents compare their own image with those of models featured in magazines and that may lead to negative feeling about their body. Teen magazines also focus on the importance of attracting men and being concerned with one’s appearance. Studies has shown that people preadolescent and adolescent girls who are frequent readers of fashion magazines are 2 to 3 more likely to diet because of a magazine articles. Cultural background may mediate the ways in which adolescent girls interpret messages in teen magazine. White view teen magazines as a version of reality while African American girls use them as critiques of the ideals represented there.

Studies have also shown that seventeen magazines have total of 266 numbers of body related articles from 1992 till 2003. There are two overreaching rhetorical visions that structured the body related content presented within the magazines. First, the making of body image and second is the unmaking of body image.

The making of body image is basically representing the body as a problem or a crisis that teens should over come to reach the body of desire “the ideal body image”. The desirable body image is smooth, think, tall, strong, young, sexy, healthy skin, no acne and so on.

The unmaking of body image is offering suggestions for the “unmaking” of varied body problems or spoiled identity. In this method writers try to advise readers to undertake body management routines or to consume certain body products. At the same time, writers advise girls to stage resistance against dominant female ideals and using cultural message for personal relevance as a way to overcome their body problems.

Author: Bishara Hazboun  Source: throughsearch