Body Image through the Media

We, as part of the ‘online generation’ have been exposed to media types essentially our entire lives and so one wonders, how does being part of such a large Media Audience effect us? We are often encouraged to use our media presences to formulate our individual opinions, but how much of the opinions that we swear by are honestly ours?

A frequently talked about media anxiety is the issue regarding body image and the ‘perfect body type’ that so many men, women and teenagers strive to achieve. It’s safe to say that we have all fallen victim to comparing ourselves to others. Whether it’s a fellow peer, the fittest girl at the gym, or the models presented to us on our TV screens or on social media. But some people feel this media anxiety to a further degree than others. There are some people who can look at the models on the covers of magazines and flip the page with the understanding that these photos are often photoshopped and not accurate depictions of these models. There are, however, articles that suggest that women who are at a healthy weight, or even underweight are still not content with their bodies, “Among Australian women, body dissatisfaction mainly manifests with concerns about weight, even in those who are underweight or a healthy weight. This is reflected in unhealthy weight-loss practices (crash dieting, fasting, laxative misuse, vomiting) across all weight ranges.” (1)

Going from the 1940’s where the ‘ideal body type’ was curvy hips and squeezable cheeks:

Marilyn Monroe + bikini + 1946 + New York Times (2)

to today when models look malnourished, ribs exposed:

Anorexic-model (3)

The average Victoria’s Secret model is 5’10 and weighing in the early-mid 50kg’s (4), which is far below the average Australian woman. Again begging the question of how being exposed to these unrealistic body types effects how we think we need to look. In a time before social media was as relevant as it is now, this might not have been such an issue, but children as young as 12 are active online and being exposed to photos such as the one above can be detrimental to their self worth and body image at a young age.

As Media Audiences, it is integral that we are educated about the ability of the media to take an image and morph it to become something it might not have originally been. Models that are basically skin and bone should not be seen as beautiful or inspiring, but as unhealthy and these photos should provoke conversation and concern as opposed to envy.

In a society that is continuing to evolve, media will evolve alongside us. This is inevitable. We must learn to generate our own opinions. Exercise, eat your vegetables, watch reality TV and read magazines that glorify unhealthy body types – but be smart enough to understand that these are unhealthy, and instead of striving to be like them, we should strive to be the best version of ourselves.

Until next week,

Celene.

1 Editor EDO 2013, Australians’ body image distorted, Eating Disorders Australia, 16/3/16, http://eatingdisordersaustralia.org.au/australias-body-image-distortion/

2 Kimberly Truhler 2012, Marilyn Monroe Models Swimsuits and Add Sizzles to Summer, Glamamor, 16/3/16 http://www.glamamor.com/2012/06/marilyn-monroe-models-swimsuits-and.html

3 David Mcelroy 2012, Sorry, anorexic models: Normal-sized women are much more attractive, WordPress, 16/3/16 http://www.davidmcelroy.org/?p=9619

4 VS Angelz 2016, Victoria’s Secret, Tumblr, 16/3/16 http://thevsangelz.com/measurements-and-description

 

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