The Link Between Media And Body Image
The media has a big influence on our day to day lives. There are positive and negatives effects that the media has on us. However, we never really know how much it can affect us until it already has. Body image is a growing problem globally. However, a reason for these thoughts on our own body image can stim from the media. These thoughts can also lead to a lot of problems for people themselves and society as a whole. Now, it has become a problem.
Social Causes of Body Image
“Body image is a person’s perception of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own body. It involves how a person sees themselves, compared to the standards that have been set by society” (Body image, 2020). Body image is just one part of what society has told us we need to have. Many functionalists look at society as one big structure. This structure has many factors such as, family, friends, the economy, the media, the government, education, and even religion. One of the biggest ones is the media. The media has a lot of impact over society because a lot of people use it. Whether it is the news or social media such as, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. However, not many people realize just how big of an impact it can have on our day to day lives.
Functionalists look at all of these factors that make up society. If one is even slightly off balance, it can really make people feel like it is the end of the world. If the media is portraying something bad, most people are going to feel bad about what is being portrayed. Therefore, just about everything has a cause and an effect to go along with every situation. This is what makes sense to society. However, if something is off balance for an extended period of time, it can have long term effects.
Body image is a growing problem. However, there is something that we can tie it to in order to have it make sense. The media for decades has been advertising all sorts of products. However, decades ago we did not have one of the problems we are facing today which is body image. The majority of people have a very negative outlook on their own body. The media can be very influential in what they put out there for the world to see. Years ago, we did not have a “false” body type for everyone to follow. Distorted body image, also referred to as a negative body image, refers to an unrealistic image of how one might see themselves. Everyone wore what they felt comfortable with years ago, they never really compared themselves to others, but in todays times, that seems like one of the top things that people are doing, comparing themselves to others. This can cause a lot of problems.
General Patterns of Body Image
Many women in recent times have felt very insecure about their body and the need to have the perfect body shape, given the ads and pictures of models on television, in magazines, and even in person. The statistics for this topic are actually quite unbelievable. For instance, according to Miller (2020), “most models weight an average of 23% less than a typical woman. Twenty years ago, this difference was a mere 8%.” This statistic alone shows how much time has changed the opinions of men and women.
Today, women are portrayed as sexual objects rather than actual people. However, also according to Miller (2020).” Only five percent of women in the US actually fit the current body type popularly portrayed in advertising today.” This means that there are very few people that actually achieve this body type that the media is trying to give. So therefore, the majority of women that are trying to get this body shape, will fail because most women are not built to have that body type.
Since the majority of advertising companies are using models to advertise certain products, such as beauty products and dietary supplies, companies are making fortunes. Women around the globe have been spending a lot of money on things that are supposed to help their body image like weight loss diets, pills, and fitness trainers. In fact, Miller (2020) says “Over twenty years ago, the diet business was not as profitable as it is now, with much of this relating to the media. Today, this industry consists of over $33 billion each year.”
Effects of Body Image
Although the media influences our own opinions of our bodies of what is and is not acceptable in society, the results of this is actually harmful for people. It is mentally and emotionally draining for people. It can worsen preexisting conditions such as depression and anxiety. In fact, and article I read actually said “While social media hasn’t been definitely proven to cause psychological disorders, it can intensify preexisting mental health conditions” (The Link Between Social Media and Body Image | King University Online, 2020). However, though social media alone may not cause these disorders, when women compare themselves to other women there are signs that there are more psychological problems that come with it, such as depression and with anxiety.
It also has drastic tolls on people’s physical health. This can cause people to drop an excessive amount of weight because they are insecure about their body image. Because of this many people can develop anorexia, and other types of eating disorders. Women can go to extremes to try and achieve their dream body that has been influenced by the media’s portrayal of “the perfect body”. This is an underlying problem that many people choose to ignore, or they are not aware of. According to another article that I have read, “More than 1/3 of the people who admit to “normal dieting,” will merge into pathological dieting. Roughly 1/4 of those will suffer from a partial or full-on eating disorder” (11 Facts About Body Image, 2020).
However, though it might have more of a negative impact on people rather than a positive, there are people out there that actually take it in a positive light. They use these models to push themselves to do better and succeed in whatever they are trying to accomplish. It is not a set back for them but rather a steppingstone. Instead of putting negative energy into it, they radiate positive energy because it pushes them to do better rather than focusing on how they did not do good in the first place. The majority of people may have a negative outlook on it but people across the globe are trying to put a more positive out look on body image that includes, rather that excludes, a variety of bodies are good.
Overall, as you have read, you will find that body image can be significantly impacted by the media. Many people suffer from body image issues and it is a growing problem. Years ago, this was not that big of an issue. Nowadays, you see the number of people suffering with eating disorders rising. This causes many problems, physically and mentally. If the media would take away a lot of the false body imagery that they keep producing, we might see the number of people with problems about their own body image decline. Steps need to be taken to help people with these issues.
Although some science shows that not everyone has a bad outlook on their own image, the majority of people do. Although other people may look at an advertisement that shows the false body imagery that they portray and it inspires them to do better, most people have a very negative outlook. It is a good thing that not everyone has a bad feeling and insecurity about their body because then the number would be drastically higher of those with eating and mental disorders. However, something still needs to be done about the “false image” that is being feed into the media.
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- King University Online. 2020. The Link Between Social Media And Body Image | King University Online. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 April 2020].
- In-mind.org. 2020. Selfie-Esteem: The Relationship Between Body Dissatisfaction And Social Media In Adolescent And Young Women | Magazine Issue 1/2018 – Issue 35 | In-Mind. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 April 2020].
- Swedishcollegium.se. 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 April 2020].
- Miller, J., 2020. Admedia Online Ad Network | Affiliate Advertising Solutions. [online] Admedia.com. Available at: [Accessed 4 April 2020].
- DoSomething.org. 2020. 11 Facts About Body Image. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 April 2020].