How the media hurts self-esteem


| 9 Comments
What is perfection? It is very likely that most women would reply with: "Skinny waist, big breasts, long legs, shiny long hair, clear skin, blah blah blah". The list could go on forever. You can't blame women for having this ideal image of perfection because it is forced down our throats everywhere we go, look, and turn.
  
There is one main thing to blame this on: the media.  Research shows that appearance satisfaction and self-esteem are strongly correlated. It's no wonder why women feel horrible about themselves; the media makes it seem as though perfection is achievable. 

It's one thing if a women daily does her make up, primps her hair, and picks out a fashionable outfit to enhance her looks, but it's another thing when she decides to go further with procedures such as plastic surgery and botox.  Studies have also shown that when a women feels that she is good looking, her self-esteem is through the roof.  But on the other hand, if a women is unsatisfied with her appearance, she will constantly feel horribly about herself.  Of course, self-esteem starts with underlying psychological issues, but the media reinforces these thoughts that women have to be perfect in order to have a successful, happy life.

Approximately 2,000,000 Americans undergo some type of surgical procedure each year in order to enhance their looks. Obviously something is wrong with this picture.  We think that cosmetic surgery is okay because the media makes it seem to be okay.  Many celebrities such as Jwoww, Ashley Tisdale, Victoria Beckham, and Heidi Montag have all had procedures done. These celebrities range from Disney Channel to MTV to reality TV; it's everywhere. An estimated 33-65,000 children (under the age of 18) have a procedure done annually. The pure fact that even children are feeling this need for perfection is sickening.

Here is a before and after picture of Heidi Montag, as if she wasn't already beautiful before, right? Heidi had 10 surgeries all at once (listed on the picture). This goes to show that women are becoming obsessed with the idea of "perfection". 

Other types of media such as the runway, billboards, and magazines are just as guilty as television stars. We all know how bone-skinny runway models are forced to be. I don't think i have to go into how this negatively impacts a women's mind.  That's self explanatory.  Something not as obvious is the amount of work that goes into each photo that shows up in magazines and on billboards. This short video blew my mind when I first saw it.  The model before the makeup and photoshop doesn't look like a model at all; she looks like an average person, but by looking at the final picture there is absolutely no way of knowing that. This is the prime reason why women are so harsh on themselves.  Advertisements are pretty much lying to our faces.  The women that we all look up to and praise for their beauty are not even capable of looking that way without hours upon hours of professional digital enhancement and makeup artists. Beauty does not have to be a perfect figure and flawless face no matter how much the media tries to persuade us of this.

Remember: you are beautiful just the way you are :)

Bibliography:

Dumenco, S. (2006). Reality bytes: Welcome to our photoshopped future. Advertising Age, (77.39), 28.

İnceoğlu, Y., & Kar, A. (2009). New Beauty Icons: Freedom or Conviction to the Human Body. Ileti-S-Im, (10), 7-31.

Abraham, A., Zuckerman, D., (2011). Adolescents, Celebrity Worship, and Cosmetic Surgery. Journal of Adolescent Health, (45), 453-454.

 


9 Comments

This was a really good blog because this is so common among women and girls these days. The statistical fact you posted in the blog that girls under 18 have procedures is scary. They technically are still growing. It's a shame that media has an unrealistic beauty that not one woman can meet. I found your video clip to be shocking and shows how much digital enhancement can do to just an average woman. I have found another Dove campaign commercial where women are asked to describe themselves and a guy draws them. Then he draws how he sees them through his eyes and afterwards they compare both pictures and it's stunning that women think of themselves so poorly and I do blame part of it on the media. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE

Hayley,
Your blog brings up a relevant point in today's society. Especially when it comes to the media affecting young girls. These kids pick up magazines like People and Seventeen and look at the "perfect" actresses and models and feel the need to look like them. This website recorded that “Girls are becoming weight conscious as young as 8 years old. 80% of 9 year olds are on diets. Eating disorders have grown 400% since 1970”. But just because people are reporting these astonishing numbers doesn’t mean that some media outlets and celebrities aren’t trying to dissuade girls from thinking like this. Miranda Lambert a renowned country singer is one of those celebrities that want people to be comfortable in their own bodies just as she is. She stated, “I don’t care about being stick-thin. I don’t want stuff to jiggle. Really skinny actresses make me hungry”.

My apologies the websites didn't embed properly. Here is the first website that I quoted from with the statistical data:
http://www.crisisconnectioninc.org/teens/media_influence_on_youth.htm
And here is the second that provides Miranda Lambert's opinion on the matter:
http://tasteofcountry.com/miranda-lambert-body-exercise-self/

I am so happy that I decided to read your blog! Woman are becoming too obsessed with the way they look. It was disgusting to know how many people stars especially undergo plastic surgery to get the perfect body. There is no such thing is being perfected everyone has their flaws so why are people trying to correct these flaws? These flaws are what makes us unique they define us and most people other than ourselves will find some of our flaws even pretty. We are born this way which means we were not meant to look like a Barbie. We are all probably more beautiful than we think after all we are our own worst critic! Below is an article on ways to accept how you look and learn to love it.

http://willolovesyou.com/2013/04/were-our-own-worst-critics/

Danielle,
I have seen that video before too, it almost brought tears to my eyes! That's the problem with women today, they choose to ignore their positive traits and allow themselves to solely focus on their imperfections. Personally, I feel that some type of law or something should be passed that restricts the amount of work can go into media images because it gives us the wrong message, which is why all of these women have low self-esteem.

For starters, I totally agree with everything you wrote about in your post. I have also seen this video before and am blown away at the before and after shots. The media's and the fashion industry's portrayal of beauty put pressure on people to look a certain way, which is harmful to so many young girls and young women today. Seeing repeated images of girls with a flawless shape and figure put unrealistic stress on women to look and achieve what is for many, an unachievable and unhealthy look. This pressure by the media could also be the reason why almost up to 24 million people in the U.S. today suffer from some type of eating disorder. While the media is meant to spread the news, whether it be good or bad, when it is becoming a harmful contributor to one's health, changes need to be made. This website, http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/, goes into great depths about the horrors of eating disorders, which can stem from unrealistic expectations on how your body should look. It is important for people to know the dangers and recognize the signs before it is too late for themselves or for someone they love.

I completely agree with the points you made in this post. Also, after looking into it more, I came across an article that discusses researchers who have found that adolescents with poor body image are even less mentally healthy and suffer more from depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts than those with other mental health illnesses. Though it’s so incredibly unfortunate, it does go to show how much of a detriment the media’s portrayal of a perfect woman and thus, youths’ negative image of themselves can be to their overall mental healthiness. Take a look at the article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060606224541.htm

I completely agree with the points you made in this post. Also, after looking into it more, I came across an article that discusses researchers who have found that adolescents with poor body image are even less mentally healthy and suffer more from depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts than those with other mental health illnesses. Though it’s so incredibly unfortunate, it does go to show how much of a detriment the media’s portrayal of a perfect woman and thus, youths’ negative image of themselves can be to their overall mental healthiness. Take a look at the article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060606224541.htm

I want to go into media after college and posts like this make me want to reconsider sometimes. The media is a powerful outlet and does shape the way our society lives life. Someone else wrote a blog about symmetry and beauty and I think this is what causes people to go under the knife. But not everyone can be truly beautiful! The picture of Heidi is just so sad because she looks worse now than she ever did before. I think instead of taking means to the extreme, those in the limelight should lead by example and accept themselves as they are. Or stick to photoshop! haha!

Here are some really photoshopped pictures of famous people.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/17/celebrity-photoshop_n_4107587.html

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