The Media

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           Have you looked in a magazine lately? If not, open a magazine and take a look at the models on the pages. What do they all have in common? Most people would say the women models are skinny, tall and beautiful while the male models are handsome, muscular, and tall. Why are there no overweight models portrayed in magazines? Models in magazines have continued to get thinner every day. As I was reading about models, I came across a very startling statistic--the average woman model weights up to 25% less than the typical woman. The average American woman is 5'4" tall and weighs 140 pounds while the average American model is 5'11" tall and weighs 117 ("The American Woman," 2011). In my opinion, it is an eye-opening statistic.

As a society, we are often bombarded with news stories showing the negative effects of how media is shaping today's youth. From early on, children are taught by society that their looks matter. With an increased population of children who spend a lot of time in front of the television, there are more of them coming up with a sense of who they are. Images on television spend countless hours telling us how to lose weight, be thin, and be beautiful. Images of models in magazines rarely depict the men and women with average body types. Women in magazines seem to be no bigger than a toothpick while men in magazines tend to be filled with muscle. The skinny, tall woman and the muscular, pumped-up man are the ones who are depicted as successful, beautiful and well-liked by everyone. In many movies or TV shows, the overweight kid is characterized as being lazy and having no friends. If you are familiar with the movie Heavyweights, then you would know that this movie is constantly poking fun a overweight kids. In this movie, a handful of overweight kids attend a summer camp where they are all made fun of for being fat. While this is a comical movie to watch, I think the overall message of "making fun of fat kids" could ultimately promote to kids that being overweight is funny.

Since the media greatly influences today's youth, how does one tell children that looks don't matter, it's what's inside that counts--such as friendly and caring personality. Since the media puts so much stress on children to look good and be beautiful or handsome, many children may be self conscious about their appearance. It is reported that almost half of American children between first and third grades say they want to be thinner. Four out of five American women say they don't like the way they look. Half of nine- and ten-year-old girls say that being on a diet make them feel better about themselves. On top of that, one million boys and men struggle with eating disorder and borderline conditions ("The American Woman," 2011). There are just some of many statistics that show how many people are dissatisfied with the way they look. In my opinion, it's shocking to see these statistics. I believe every individual should be told they are beautiful, regardless of their weight. Beauty comes from what's inside, not from the outward looks. 

 

References

 

The Average American Woman. (2011, May). Retrieved from http://www.inch-

aweigh.com/dietstats.htm

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3 Comments

I actually love the movie Heavyweights. I think it's cute when the kids at camp tease the counselor for being thin. I think the movie shows comradery, perseverance, and an attitude that if you work hard you can do anything. However, I do agree with the majority of your post.

The media can alter perception of what people believe is normal and this includes what a “normal” body type or weight is. The availability heuristic phenomenon is partly to blame for this. According to Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts (2010), the availability heuristic is when people make judgments based off of how easy it is to recall particular instances of something from memory.

When all you see are images of tall and slender models or read about how fast a certain celebrity mother lost all of her baby weight, you start to believe that the minority is the majority. It’s important for people to focus on being healthy because both ends of the spectrum (obese and underweight) can cause many health issues.


References

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2005). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Melissa, I agree with you on your opinion of the movie "Heavyweights". This movie is a very comical movie to watch. However, I think the overall message in the movie could ultimately promote kids into think making fun of overweight kids is funny. Since the media has a powerful way of shaping today's youth, many people are telling kids it's what's inside that matters not what's on the outside. This movie is a really good movie; however, I think there are some kids out there that would be affected negatively from it.

I agree with you on promoting a healthy environment. Your analogy of "minority is the majority" is definitely a good point.

Kristin, here is a males perspective on it and a very uncommon one at that. Seeing how the media portrays models as being thin, tall, blond hair and brown eyes doesn’t always seem that striking to me. If not for the sheer fact that these women go to great lengths to get to that size they also suffer from some serious disorders that include eating disorders which is almost common knowledge. And the men being muscle bound. I really don’t think that documentation is really needed for the proof of issues that can be caused by the use of steroids in order for them to get to that physic.

What I remember growing up in the 80’s was almost the “Plain-Jane” models that “looked” thin and were NOT thin. Take for example Farrah Fawcett. She looked thin but was not crazy thin like a size 0 that seems to be today’s standard. And then when she married Lee Majors, he looked like your average everyday blue collar worker. Now even though I might be stereo-typing here just a little bit, I stand to prove your point. Times have changed and for the better?? I think not. I really do applaud that actors and actresses that have normal physics and would rather watch them or read about them and not the Lindsey Lohan’s that have eating disorders that continue to re-enforce bad choices that are out there in life!!

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