Media Negatively Affects the Body Image Concerns of Adolescent Girls
Among adolescent girls, body image concerns are not uncommon. The hypothesis of this paper believes that media negatively affects the body image concerns of adolescent girls. The independent variable is the adolescent girls and the dependent variable is the media. This is because adolescent girls can be affected by a lot of other things when it concerns body image, this can come in the form of their peers, society and even history. These variables can affect the concerns on body image of adolescent girls in both a positive and a negative way. However, this paper will only discuss the negative affects which body images are supplied by media to adolescent girls with.
The theoretical approach which best suits this study is the Psychodynamic Approach. This is because the concerns regarding body images are implanted in the minds of these adolescent girls unconsciously. These adolescent girls are being influenced by underlying messages which they might pick up from the media, and this affects how they may see themselves. It is not of the case whether the media is portraying body image this way intentionally or unintentionally; it is the fact that they do, and how it negatively affects the perspectives in adolescence girls when they view themselves.
There are many significant concerns which are related to weight and body image in regards to adolescent girls (Clark & Tiggemann, 2008). This can be seen in Western societies, and adolescent girls are seen to want a thinner body. This is seen affecting the levels of these girls' self-esteem and confidence; it directly affects their psychosocial function within society (Cheng & Mallinckrodt, 2009). This type of developments within adolescent girls in regards to their concerns on their body image can lead to possible eating disorders as well as anxiety which may carry on even in their adult lives (Tramp, Siero, & Stapel, 2007). There is a need to investigate why these adolescent girls are so concerned about their body image, and to what extent it is affecting their lives.
Thoughts of body dissatisfaction, as well as the desire to be thin, which is seen as a problem among adolescent girls, are not uncommon. According to Dohnt and Tiggemann (2006) this can now be described as "normative discontent" because of its prevalence. Studies which were concerned of these body images delved into the question of how such young girls would get ideas on the right body image. Influences such as peer groups were studied. Members of groups and adolescent female friendship cliques are seen to influence each other in a number of things (Paxton & Schutz, 1999). They share a bond in which their thoughts and actions directly affect other members of the group. This includes their thoughts and perspectives on body image. This can go as far as each member influencing the next on things such as eating habits and body image concerns. When the feelings or the needs of fitting in rise, the members will subconsciously mimic or get influenced by a particular girl's choices in what she eats, how she eats and why she does these things. Studies have shown that an individual girl's body image concerns, eating behaviors and perception that her friends are also judging her for her weight and her shape may lead a girl to develop eating disorders; this in-turn would affect the entire group as a whole (Paxton & Schutz, 1999). However, the development of eating disorders do not start from the circle of friends, it starts from outside sources which may influence these girls in their decisions and their perspectives on their ideal body image (Dohnt & Tiggemann, 2006). Girls develop ideas of the "perfect" body image not within themselves, and not within their social group. There are outside factors which influence what they believe is the standard for an attractive body. These can be seen in their exposure to media in the forms of print, television and in movies. There is a constant growth in this discontent which concerns body image, that it is considered something normative in society (Grabe, Ward, & Hyde, 2008). However, these negative effects are still growing, and the ideas of what is considered beautiful is not changing. According to Clark and Tiggemann (2008) there are two variables which can influence the thoughts of body image in adolescent girls; these are peer groups and the media. Studies show that media variables come in a more influential form, since there are many exposures which the variable can come in such as in forms of television and magazines (Clark & Tiggemann, 2008).
The images which women desire are in forms which can be said to be unrealistically thin. This is seen mostly in Western societies (Tramp, Siero, & Stapel, 2007). There are many factors in which women use this to base the desired body image; and this becomes a tool in how they would evaluate themselves. A number of studies show that exposures to women who are deemed to be "physically attractive" in society are seen being portrayed by the media (Stice, Schupak-Neuberg, Shaw, & Stein, 1994).. This is where adolescent girls get their detrimental effects on their self-evaluation. These images of women which are produced by the media show very negative effects on how women may view themselves, and it causes them to be involved in ridiculous dieting practices and exercise routines (Stice, Schupak-Neuberg, Shaw, & Stein, 1994). This creates a form of dissatisfaction with the image of the self amongst adolescent girls; ultimately leading to depression and as well as a high possibility of developing eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Studies have shown that this is a form of social comparison theory, in which adolescent girls would unconsciously compare themselves to what they believe society, in the form of media, is telling them what they should look like (Tramp, Siero, & Stapel, 2007). Because there is a standard of beauty which is set by the media, adolescent girls will desire to reach that standard, and when not satisfied, they will develop depression.
The repeat exposure to the thin ideal body images which media is portraying as the acceptable standard for beauty results in socio-cultural pressures which lead to eating disorders. This type of internalization comes in an unconscious way to adolescent girls, and it produces heightened dissatisfaction with their own body images (Stice, Schupak-Neuberg, Shaw, & Stein, 1994). These dissatisfactions readily turn into eating disorders. Because media presents body image for women in an almost unrealistic way, this promotes negative thinking when it comes to the self-evaluation of these adolescent girls. When they feel that they are not capable of reaching the social norms of what the media presents body image should be, this takes a highly negative effect on the girl's self-esteem which leads to eating disorders as well as depression (Tramp, Siero, & Stapel, 2007).
There is a growing discontent seen in adolescent girls concerned with their body image, this discontent is alarmingly considered to be normative (Dohnt & Tiggemann, 2006). Media has been said to be directly related to eating pathology (Anschutz, Van Strien & Engels, 2008). Studies have shown that there is a direct connection to concerns with body image seen in adolescent girls and the affects media has. These affects are seen as negative, because they result in the development of eating disorders and depression among adolescent girls. The idea of the "perfect" body image a woman has is unrealistically thin as portrayed by the media, and is a very unhealthy example to set for adolescent girls (Cheng & Mallinckrodt, 2009). Because of this influence, the individual is not only affected, body image concerns spread throughout peer groups and affects adolescent girls as well as their circle of friends. The affects of media…