Body Image and the Media

When we look at television, magazines and the internet do we see ads promoting self love and acceptance? I certainly don't see it. I see promotion for the newest diet trend, newest make up or hairstyle that will make you look like the next Blake Lively. What we don't realize is the effect this has on our mental and physical health.

lowselfesteem%5B1%5D.jpgI'll admit it, I'm no size 0 and yes, it does bother me that the media puts a lot of pressure on us women to look perfect. Men, this goes for you too because most of the time body image is focused on women, but I am positive it effects men as well. However, because of the increase in eating disorders in women, I am going to focus on them for this blog.

According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, it is estimated that "8 million Americans have eating disorders- 7 million women and 1 million men". Eating disorders including bulimia and anorexia are considered mental illnesses. It is as if there is a voice in their head telling them that they are not good enough and their food habits become invasive to their every thought. Now, there is an increase in younger girls with eating disorders. Girls as young as the age of 13 have attempted to lose weight and "95% of people who have eating disorders are between the ages of 13 and 25".

There have been many celebrities admitting that they suffer from an eating disorder, including the late Princess Diana. One of the most known stories is Karen Carpenter. Karen was a member of the band The Carpenters and was anorexic. Karen died due to the disease. Below is a picture of Karen before she suffered from her eating disorder and after.

karen.jpgThere is also the case of Terri Schiavo. Terri suffered from an eating disorder and eventually suffered from full cardiac arrest that cut off the oxygen to her brain and resulted in extreme brain damage. She was in a vegetative state and died a month later after being taken off of her feeding tube.

terri.jpgBoth of these women wanted desperately to be thin, but this desperation turned deadly as they tried to attain the unattainable: perfection.

The site Teen Health and the Media connects the increase in eating disorders to the advertising we are exposed to every day. Look through a magazine today, watch a few commercials. Tell me how many ads you have seen depicting a girl with freckles... a curvy woman... or a birth mark on their face. Do you see any imperfections in any of these women? Doubtful.

There have been attempts to bring attention to what normal people look like. In a recent Lane Bryant commercial a curvacious woman flaunts around wearing little to the imagination. This sounds like a Victoria's Secret commercial right? Well this ad was banned, unlike Victoria's Secret whose commercials are still on the air. I'm not hating on Victoria's Secret here, those women are beautiful, but can we get some diversity here please? If all of us are supposed to look like that then I'm just going to live under a rock.

Banned Commercial
Victoria's Secret

I hope this seems as big of an issue to you as it seems to me. I am majoring in advertising and my main goal is to promote real, healthy beauty. The kind of beauty that comes from the inside and radiates on the outside. The kind of beauty that you can't buy in a bottle or get from a salon. The kind of beauty that you do not have to make yourself sick for or die for. If you are interested in this subject more visit Dove and watch their ads for their campaigns for "real beauty".

Here is one of their ads: True Colors

So ladies (and gentlemen) love yourselves and be healthy!!!!



I definitely agree that body image is directly related to social media and the advertisements presented to the public. I think we can all say that we know someone who has felt insecure or has suffered from an eating disorder at some point during a trying period in their lives. Such struggles can challenge a person everyday, and prove to be a constant uphill journey for the person experiencing them. Sometimes such body image problems are just as, or more painful for the the victim's support group than the individual. Imagine how it feels for parents and friends to watch someone they care about fall apart. I hope that more people continue to encourage the media to better cultivate a diversified, self-confident image that can inspire rather than tear down young men and women.

Do you think such media attention is directly related to bullying? Maybe people begin to pick on others by what images they pick up from the advertisements around them....

Since I am currently Undecided but strongly considering majoring in Advertising, this topic has always caught my attention. It is unfortunate and sad to see the kind of body image related advertising that people, especially young girls, are exposed to on a daily basis. Exposure to these advertisements often leads to self esteem issues, eating disorders, and/or other emotional problems. It is my hope that we can begin to reconsider the ads that we are exposing people to and think about how we can improve self esteem across the nation.

Marisa, I really do think that bullying stems from low self esteem to begin with so it only makes sense that they are all connected. I think that people pick on others because they are not happy with themselves. I actually know someone with an eating disorder, which is the main reason I want to go into advertising and change the way body image is perceived.

And Lauren, we need more people in Advertising that think the way we do! It is really an interesting major and the classes are fun... there are also a lot of jobs out there!

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