The Media vs. American Teenagers: What Really Goes On

May 20, 2008
By Amanda S, Commack, NY

The media. Everywhere you look, every product you see in the stores, every fashion do and don't...everything one knows about the economy and even global issues is a product of the media. As little as we'd like to contribute to the media's effect in society, the results are profound. From everything to personal body image and self-confidence to what the new "hot" stars are doing and wearing, teenagers are being drawn into the enticing power of celebrity and entertainment journalism now more than ever. The media is constantly targeting teenage girls who emphasize thinness as an idea of beauty. One should think it's ideal for a model to be 5'10'' and 110 pounds, but the height of an average 5'4'' woman is 145 pounds. This "standard" of beauty creates a high health risk for young girls. Many young women, mostly between the ages of 15-23, strive to be thin. "Healthy" thin and "unealthy" thin are two totally different things, however. Based on one's BMI (Body Mass Index) there is an optimal weight for each height and age. However, the importance of this is is overshadowed by the appearance of being thin.

Many girls, and even some young men, think that by being thinner they will be closer to perfection. In their minds, being skinny is a great accomplishment and alludes to beauty, and it is what they need to be happy with themselves. Unfortunately, the thinner they get the more chances they have of developing serious eating disorders. These disorders greatly heighten the chances of injury to oneself, and may even lead to death. The way those youths are pictured in their own minds will tell them to eat less and less, thus they will continue to lose weight at a constant speed. The negative affects of to trying to look like the celebrities one sees on television or the models one sees on the runway are overwhelming. One author reports that starting at the age of thirteen, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This percentage increases to 78% by the time the girls reach the age of seventeen.

The only way that young people will be able to be happy is if they accept themselves for who they are. Self image is the way one views themself and self-esteem is how one regards themself by their appearance. It is necessary to accept oneself for who one is, and to remember that everything on the inside counts in the long run - not everything on the outside.

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