Body Fascism

February 24, 2018
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Teen magazines are sold at every convenience and grocery store.  The commercials for reality television shows are on almost every channel. This media directed towards teen girls acts as a battlefield that uses body fascism as its weapon. Body fascism, the prejudice or discrimination based on a person's weight and appearance, is something that girls are faced with everyday. They receive the same message from media over and over, you are your body and your body isn’t good enough. It takes just the mere flipping through a magazine to send an explosion of insecurities through a girl (Holly). Between the airbrushed images and scrutinizing words, teenage girls’ lifestyles and body images are being affected by all types of media.


The main issue with this aggressive media is that it batters a girl’s body image and state of mind. A study was conducted where television was introduced in Western Fiji. Out of the changes shown, the most noticeable was the change among the woman watchers. They soon became dissatisfied with their bodies and worked to lose weight (Luscombe). The most likely culprit of these changes are reality television shows. Girls who watch reality TV have been shown to believe physical appearance is everything more than those who don't. Statistically, 72% of reality TV watchers were reported spending endless amounts of time on their appearances. This is opposed to the 42% of girls who don't watch reality TV. A girl’s very nature is affected by these television shows. They find it necessary to fight for a boy’s attention, they can gossip about their peers, being mean gets them what they want, and that bullying is a normal phenomenon. These girls tend to act and dress older than their actual age in order to be more like the reality TV stars, whom they’ve developed into role models of some sort. In thinking of the stars as a good example, the line between the shows and actual reality starts to fade. Many girls think the shows are reflecting reality and are unscripted ("Teen drama queens SOCIETY”).


Magazines are a large contender in the battering of teen girls. Some of the bigger names include Vogue, Cosmo, and Seventeen. While displaying inappropriate behavior and situations diminishes a girl’s pride, so do enhanced images in magazines. According to Julia Bluhm, magazines create "an airbrushed version of physically impossible CC perfection" (Holly). Julia, a 14 year-old body image campaigner, knows the struggles a teen girl goes through. She understands that the unachievable expectations put onto girls by these images is a lot of weight. Julia has met with different magazines in hopes to change the ways they advertise their products. The models in some of the most popular magazines have unhealthy body mass indexes. However, girls still seem to yearn to look like them, no matter how destructive getting there might be. Rather dangerous magazine campaigns are the plus size ones. The models are actually healthy weights, making normal look abnormal. This furthers the expectation that girls should be below average weight if they want to be pretty.
Although the battering of the body and the mind is hard hitting, it is reversible. The reality television shows that seem to have no consequences could be easily changed to defer the obsession with committing inappropriate behavior. The shows should incorporate just how things may affect people. This would show teens that they can’t get away with everything and that the behavior shown isn’t necessarily the behavior they should show (Luscombe). Also, people should start to petition and argue against the magazine editors more often. Petitions would help with getting more realistic magazines. For example, Julia Bluhm made a petition that was against digitally enhanced images, 30,000 people signed it. In return of the obvious dislike in these unhealthy images, Vogue editors agreed not to hire any models with an unhealthy BMI (Holly). Also, those who are more heavily affected by media should speak to others about it. Whether it be a counselor or just a group of close friends, the support will help with the growing insecurities. It may take a while and require a lot work, but the battered bodies and minds of teens can be fixed.


In retrospect, there are some people that don’t think any solutions need to be made. They believe that there was never a problem in the first place. Some think that teen girls don't want to be the models, they just want to try on their look (Luscombe). They relate the issue to when girls wore crocheted bathing suits to drive their mothers insane. The girls that seem affected by media are really just trying to explore themselves. That insecurities are the effect of puberty, not media. These people only take into consideration that there are some teens that are not affected. However, there are the ones that get hit hard by aggressive media tactics.


Although some people oppose the thought that girls are being battered by media, there is hope that unrealistic media will one day disappear. With people like Julia Bluhm and the changes that Vogue are making, it seems more possible now than when no one was taking action. The only thing that can change how media is towards teen girls is the people. If reality shows or magazines have low ratings, they’ll change their content. Until something compromises their income, they will remain the same (Luscombe). Jess Scott, in her book, The Other Side of Life, stated how sad it was “how plastic and artificial life has become. It gets harder and harder to find something…real.” Everyone can see that enhanced images and media directed at teens as a whole is becoming a large problem. There has to be petitions and conferences if there is any hope to solve the problem of body fascism towards teen girls in 21st century media.






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