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Media Madness

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The media’s effect on the public has always been drastic, but lately it’s having an unusually negative result. Girls across America are feeling the burn as they’re bombarded with images of women who are ‘perfect’. Not only do girls expect more of themselves, they expect it younger. The TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras features girls as juvenile as three and four putting on makeup and fake teeth to compete for titles in beauty pageants. The press’ projections on how a woman should look are nothing new, but because of the new technology used to broadcast the message, the consequences are colossal.
The ‘perfect woman’ icon is causing teenage girls to take up bad practices. Stars like Blake Lively and Lady Gaga unintentionally encourage plastic surgery, projecting their results to young women all over America. Young women are more inclined to partake in unhealthy relationships to feel wanted and loved, in no small part due to media such as the Twilight Saga, which showcases a dominant, overprotective male and a naïve female. Since the idealistic Hollywood version of perfection is underweight, eating disorders have become rampant in high schools and middle schools.

Self-esteem in teenage girls seems to be at an all-time low. Eating disorders, which were once a problem for girls ages thirteen to seventeen, are now faced by girls aged nine to twelve. The change, though only by a few years, can be fatal; pre-adolescents are more likely to die from the severe emaciation that can take place in anorexia or bulimia. Another strong display of how unhappy teens are with their bodies is the nine percent increase in the cosmetic surgery industry. The result of stress based on a girl’s desire to be airbrushed isn’t just physical; one of ten teenage girls suffers from depression. As crippling as this statistic is, it’s no surprise that teen suicide rates have also been on the rise.

Shockingly one of the most effective means of convincing girls to change themselves are ads. Featuring everything from wealthy goddesses to absurdly beautiful heiresses, this form of media can be found everywhere from commercials on television to billboards. The job of these ads is to use whatever means necessary to convince people to buy their product, even if those means are making girls feel bad about themselves. Fashion trends are promoted by underweight models, making girls feel fat. The bad body image is made worse by all products used to slim down, like diet pills, which endorse it. Makeup ads are mostly computer generated, creating a literally inhuman version of what is aesthetically attractive.

Although many things factor into how a girl thinks about herself, media is a substantial portion of it. This business uses mostly subliminal messages to make money, but the cost is the self-esteem and sometimes lives of America’s teen girls. Media is everywhere, influencing the public constantly. An enterprise with such a huge responsibility should recognize the problems they cause; it’s time for a more wholesome, feminist image of the ideal woman.




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