“If the media is sending girls the message that their value lies in their bodies,
this can only leave them feeling disempowered and distract them from making
a difference and becoming leaders”
Media portrays women as wrinkle free and flawless. It’s impossible to achieve perfection, but women find ways to achieve media’s ‘ideal beauty’ and in trying to reach that perfection, negative effects come to mind such as extreme body dissatisfaction and damaging habits which is alarmingly common in today’s society. Beauty is not what you see on the outside, it’s what lies within. This is what we are taught throughout our childhood. However, by the time a person is in their teens, they have seen thousands of advertisements in the media, which stress the “perfect image” in the form of models, actresses who teenagers look up to. These advertisements send a message that this is how women are “supposed” to look. The media has a lot of influence on girls aged 15-30 as they are the major people who consume products and they use this opportunity to project advertisements on body image, weight loss programs and clothes. The media grabs people’s attention by portraying women in advertisements in a sexist way in order to attract customers. They portray women in a thin body image to suggest that that’s the perfect body for women and that is beautiful. This harms women especially those who are self-conscious and have low self-esteem about their appearance as they start questioning themselves and try to make themselves look better by spending a lot of money on medical procedures such as plastic surgery and following weight loss programs which leads to eating disorders as well as depression both physical and mental.
Eating disorders has the highest mortality rate than any other mental illness. Research done by Adolescent growth in 2017 highlights this matter where 95% of people suffering from eating disorders are aged between 12 and 25. 50% of teenage girls and 33% of teenage boys engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors by intentionally not eating and starving themselves so that they can achieve weight loss (www.adolescentgrowth.com). Suicide is another factor which comes in as a result of not having a perfect body. Teenagers turn to suicide when they are unable get the perfect body after using all means necessary. According to NHS data, girls aged 17 and under have been admitted to hospitals in England because of self-harm has increased from 10,500 to 17,500 over the past decade a rise of 68% while for boys was 26% (www.theguardian.com). Many companies’ advertisements focus on appearance to sell their products and females are the target hence the higher rate in self-inflicted harm and eating disorders.
Women are also objectified and depicted as objects or tools in many advertisements by having fair skin, long hair and good shaped bodies in order to promote brands. This hampers progress being made in bringing equality and reducing objectification of women in today’s world. Women have the ability to bring change in the world but less women are part of governments or high official posts because they are considered to be weak and men feel they belong at home taking care of the house, cooking and bringing up the children. Global statistics show that woman labor force participation rate decreased from 52.4% to 49.6% between 1995 and 2015. In addition to that, pay gap is huge between men and women around the world. In 2015 women were earning $11,000 while men were earning $21,000 (www.catalyst.org). This shows that women are not appreciated like men are at workplaces and this results in women not being motivated to work hard enough. Women can have the same qualifications as a men or even better but they get rejected and even when they do get accepted they get a minimum wage. In America women have a median annual pay of $40,742 while for men its $51,212. This amounts to a gender wage gap of $10,470 every year (www.nationalpartnership.org). Women end up focusing on perfecting their bodies due to harmful advertisements and give so much importance to it in order to look good and end up losing focus on perfecting their careers.
In conclusion the media plays a huge part in influencing teenagers and women to look perfect and beautiful. Even though the women portrayed in the advertisements don’t really look the way they are portrayed because the images are also altered using Photoshop for them to look perfect. This results in life threatening situations which is harmful for girls. The solution to this is governments and health organization should intervene and put restrictions on media outlets so that they don’t portray unrealistic advertisements such as a perfect women because youths are vulnerable and can believe anything they are told and especially parents should educate their children on avoiding falling into the traps used by media and by regulating their children’s use of media because everything is available on the net with a click of a button so that they don’t end up taking extreme measures such as suicide and self-harm. Another way to educate youths is to have classes in school where they are taught about the harmful ways the media use to attract people and to understand what an advertisement means and how to avoid pressure of having a perfect body when there is no such thing as a perfect body.