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Media’s Influence on Adolescents Body Image

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The film “Killing them Softly” was about how women’s body images are being portrayed by the media today and throughout history, also how big of an influence it has on our cultural views and values. In the beginning of the film, the speaker placed a huge emphasis on advertisements in our culture and how exposed we are to them. She mentions at one point that we will spend around two years of our lives watching advertisements. Although many people will say that ads don’t have an immediate effect on them, they have an effect subconsciously without them even realizing it. The ads that were shown in the film were specifically targeting girls/women. Girls are taught at a young age to have a standard of beauty that is almost impossible to achieve and is unrealistic. The problem with the media’s images that they show in their ads is that they contain four or five images of multiple women and photo shop them into one. Therefore, the women who are exposed to these ads will compare themselves to impossible standards of beauty. This affects their self-esteem in very negative ways.

The media also portrays women’s bodies into objects through advertisements. In the video, there was a clip shown of an advertisement by Heineken and the woman in the commercial’s body was morphed into a beer keg to appeal to a male dominated audience. The big issue with this is that men learn through the media that it is normalized to objectify women. Another main issue that was discussed in the film was that because of what the media has done with women’s body images, this is a key reason to why there are many eating disorders in the world among women. American beauty ideals have spread globally, when television was introduced to Fiji, there was a huge spike in eating disorders among the women. Another key topic in the film was how women and men are both portrayed in the media. There was a huge difference, women were shown to look weak while men were shown as stronger. The speaker emphasized that this is why women are often raped and abused by men due to the portrayal of the big power differences between them. The media also uses sex to sell almost everything. Because of this, women at very young ages feel very sexualized and encourages them to act like strippers and objectify themselves. When girls are exposed to these sexualized advertisements by the media they are at risk for three of the most common behavioral disorders. These disorders include depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. Women are suffering from these media portrayals and it has very negative effects on them. This is a very big public health problem and the public needs to be more educated to alter these norms of society.

The film was very upsetting to me and made me really understand the struggle that women go through from the media. This is a problem that our society needs to address, women should not have to live their lives feeling ashamed of who they are due to impossible standards of beauty. The media shames women and lowers their self-esteem for their own gain. It is unfair that women get portrayed as weak by the media then portray men the very opposite. Because of the media, most women will live their lives feeling inferior and less confident because of their learned experiences through the media. This isn’t because of genetic differences, this is because the media knows that if they keep successfully putting down women then they will continue to buy their products due to their low self-esteem. The media has been doing this since it’s creation, it continues because it has been successful and women have always been taught to feel this way in American culture. I thought that the film did a good job in explaining all these ways that the media portrays women. This helped me understand how and why this all happens. The speaker had so many different advertisements to show to the audience, all of them had significance to each point she was explaining.

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The ads that were shown were disgusting and very humiliating to women, this allowed the audience to almost be able to feel what the women who see all of these feel. One of the ads that were shown had a slogan that said that their personality will never be how they attract guys, and that it will be how they look in the jeans they were selling. Another thing that made my jaw drop during this film was when the speaker talked about a model who died from anorexia. This made me realize that women are so concerned about their body image that they can even come close to death or in some cases die. This was so saddening and broke my heart, the media’s impossible standards of beauty is damaging women. The expectations that are put onto women are very cruel. I couldn’t believe all of the expectations that women have in American culture. They are expected to be sexy and innocent, also experienced but virginal. They are expected to be hot because it is the biggest measure of success. Not only are they expected to be hot but there were specific traits that were mentioned that are viewed as attractive. These traits included being thin, young, and light skinned. They are also expected to be objects in our society. All of these expectations are cruel and unfair, I hope that our society gets better educated on this topic. It is important that we evolve as a society and take action to prevent this from further damaging women in our culture.

The research article that I chose was called, “The Role of Media Exposure in Adolescent Girls’ Body Dissatisfaction and Drive for Thinness: Prospective Results.” The purpose of this article was to study the correlation of media exposure and how it affects how they feel about their body. The study used 214 female high school students. This study was done by the experimental design. The study collected data by using questionnaires. The experiment collected data on media exposure with magazines and television, how they viewed their appearance, how they internalized their appearance, and if they weren’t happy with their bodies. The study found that it wasn’t the amount of media that they were exposed to that had an effect, it was how they responded to the media. The individual’s characteristics was the key role in how they construe the media and internalize it. Therefore, not everyone is affected by the media’s ways, only certain individuals who internalize it differently than others. The study has confirmed that adolescence is a time where girls are not necessarily happy with their bodies and there is a motivation to be skinny. The study also showed that adolescent girl’s views of their bodies may already be stable by the time they enter into high school.

The study cannot prove that media is the reason for girl’s negative body images, but they are related. The choices of the media that the girls chose was the important variable involved and was directly related to negative body image. If girls change the media that they are getting their negative information than that will have a direct effect. The study indicated that that most important thing for young adolescent girls was their appearance schemas and if they had positive appearance schemas then the effect of media exposure would be less. The problem I had with this study was with the questions that were asked to the participants. The study used a scale that indicated if they were unsatisfied with their body images, how they viewed beauty, and their appearance schemas. The problem with this is that as adolescent girls they have already been exposed to media for quite some time now. They may have already developed their standards of beauty and schemas from the earliest of ages. I think that the media already had affected these girls and the study cannot detect that. This study was directly related to the movie because it studied the effect that the media exposure had on young adolescent girls. Although the results weren’t exactly what I thought they would be, it still showed that the media does have an effect on certain adolescent girls but not all of them.

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Media’s Influence on Adolescents Body Image. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 27, 2024, from
“Media’s Influence on Adolescents Body Image.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022,
Media’s Influence on Adolescents Body Image. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Feb. 2024].
Media’s Influence on Adolescents Body Image [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 08 [cited 2024 Feb 27]. Available from:
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