Saturday, October 13, 2007

Media and influence on women body image.

It has become obvious now that the media advertises and promotes a very unhealthy trend of extreme dieting and other bad eating habits to women. Most of media sources put on their covers images of skinny emancipated females. Doing this they influence the subconscious mind of the masses. And women continue to spend their money trying to achieve this unattainable look they constantly see in media advertising.
To try and solve this problem let’s answer the next questions. 1. What is body image? 2. What kind of trends in the media industry are we noticing now? 3. How do the media influence our perception of body image? 4. What could be the reasons behind this? 5. What are the consequences of this kind of trend? 6. What are some real suggestions on how to improve your body image?
Your body image is how you perceive, think and feel about your body. This may have no bearing at all on your actual appearance. For instance, it is common in Western nations for women to believe they are larger and fatter than they really are. Only one in five women is satisfied with their body weight. Nearly half of all normal weight women overestimate their size and shape. A distorted body image can lead to self-destructive behavior, like dieting or eating disorders. Approximately nine out of 10 young Australian women have dieted at least once in their lives.
So, the basic trend in the media industry at the moment is to promote slim, even skinny unnatural looking women’s bodies as being beautiful.
Women of all ages but especially young women look at magazines, TV, movies and other media products full of images that show skinny women’s bodies. And these are perceived by the subconscious mind of young women as being a role model to follow and aspire to be like. Achieving this skinny look does not come naturally; it inevitably leads to practicing some kind of dieting, excessive exercising or abnormal eating behaviors.
Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 per cent less than the average woman—but today’s models weigh 23 per cent less. Advertisers believe that thin models sell products. When the Australian magazine New Woman recently included a picture of a heavy-set model on its cover, it received a truckload of letters from grateful readers praising the move. But its advertisers complained and the magazine returned to featuring bone-thin models.
What could be the reason behind all this? Why has this fashion trend occurred now? Why are standards of beauty being imposed on women, the majority of whom are naturally larger than any of the models?
The reasons for this according to some analysts, is an economic one. By presenting an ideal look which is difficult to achieve and maintain the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth $100 billion (U.S.) a year. This is a lot of money and certainly worth their while to continue to foster emancipated women as being the norm.
And the consequences of this trend are huge. On the one hand, women who are insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet pills or other diet supplies.
On the other hand, research indicates that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls.
The level of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are increasing rapidly every year. It is estimated that around 5 per cent of women and 1 percent of men have an eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia or binge eating some time in their life.
And about 15 per cent of all young women have significantly distorted eating attitudes and behavior that can lead to developing anorexia or bulimia in the near future.
So, what would be some real suggestions on how to improve your body image without resorting to unhealthy eating habits?
The First one is to change your goal from weight loss to just improving your health. Second, is to focus more the internal beauty like improving your self-esteem, self-confidence and internal strengths of your character. Get informed by reading up on body image issues and self-improvement books. And give yourself a break from women’s magazines and the mass media advertising for a while if you feel you maybe prone to this kind of false perceptions.
To sum up, the media does impact on women’s body image significantly and it can affect women’s physical and mental health in a negative way. And the only way to stop these negative effects coming from the media is to teach women not to judge themselves by the beauty industry's standards and learn not to compare themselves to the cover girls. And also it is important to promote a healthy life style with emphasis on internal beauty like improving self-esteem and self-confidence. Not on being a stick like model.

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