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Essay Example on Society's Distorted Body Image

4 pages
874 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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In the contemporary society, mainstream media has continued to take control of many lives through creating an unachievable body image. It is prominent that the media focuses mainly on the body image of women and show people how they need to be as opposed to how they are. According to The Center for Mental Health Services, 90 percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25 years. Young, innocent lives are continually being warped by society and made to think that they are not good enough. The media has been promoting an extremely unhealthy body image, causing everyone to focus heavily on their appearance, leading to many eating disorders and essentially destroying peoples lives.

The popular media, such as television, movies, and magazines have had a prominent effect on body image since World War II by continually modifying how we should look. Holding up the ideal body image for women, according to society, has become thinner and thinner over the years, and we are conforming to it. These unrealistic standards are not only for adults but also are affecting children greatly. In a survey conducted to girls who were between 9 and 10 years old, 40% have tried to lose weight. Besides, according to an ongoing study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the same result can be evident. It is thus a pressing issue in our society since even children are also feeling the effects of body shaming. A 1996 study found that the amount of time an adolescent watches soaps, movies, and music videos is associated with their degree of body dissatisfaction and desire to be thin. One study reports that at the age of thirteen, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." It did grow to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. The media has been promoting an extremely unhealthy body image, causing everyone to focus heavily on their appearance, leading to many eating disorders and essentially destroying peoples lives.

People put too much focus on their appearance, and in the world, we live in today, we are doing so because of what society tells us to look like. A Kaiser Foundation study by Nancy Signorielli found that, in movies, particularly, but also in television shows and the accompanying commercials, women's and girl's appearance is frequently commented on 58 percent of female characters in movies had comments made about their looks, as did 28 percent in television shows and 26 percent of the female models in the accompanying commercials. Mens' and boys' appearance is talked about significantly less often in all three media: a quarter (24%) of male characters in the movies, and 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively, in television shows and commercials. Women are critiqued far more often than men because society puts a magnifying glass on every flaw from their beauty standards. Women are also a popular way to sell products. The study presents that one in every three (37%) articles in leading teen girl magazines also included a focus on appearance, and most of the advertisements (50%) used an appeal to beauty to sell their products. Women's bodies have become just an overused marketing strategy.

A big problem that results from conforming to society is eating disorders. Anorexia is just one of many life-threatening eating disorders that affect people's lives day-to-day. Statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics show that "anorexia" or "anorexia nervosa" was the underlying cause of death noted on 101 death certificates in 1994, and was mentioned as one of the multiple causes of death on another 2,657 death certificates. Each year, millions of people in the United States are affected by serious and sometimes life-threatening eating disorders. Anorexia is an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. Sadly, more than 90 percent of those afflicted are adolescent and young adult women. Five to ten million adolescent girls and women struggle with eating disorders and borderline eating conditions.

When will we all wake up and realize how much negativity is brought to society's twisted body image? The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that eating disorders affect more than 5 million Americans each year. Are we going to have to lose another 5 million lives before we begin to make a change to this crooked society we live in today? We can put an end to it starting now. Girls and boys need to, from a young age, be taught to love themselves for exactly who they are, and be taught to not conform to society's views when it comes to what the media puts out for us to look up to. This way of thinking will teach children to be more accepting to those who look different from oneself.


Works Cited

CDC/National Center for Health Statistics. "National Center for Health Statistics." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Oct. 2017. Web.

"Learn More About NEDA Walks Across the Country!" National Eating Disorders Association. National Eating Disorders Association, 2016. Web.

The National Institute of Mental Health. "Eating Disorders." National Institute of Mental Health.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Feb. 2016. Web.

"SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration." SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 11 Oct. 2017. Web.


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