You can’t airbrush the real thing: how the media affects women


The media’s image of how a real woman should look hurts women who don’t mirror that perverted image. Photo Illustration by Randy Neilson/UVU Review

Photoshop allows the media to piece together women to fill the pages of magazines, which sets a standard of beauty that is impossible to achieve.

Dr. Nicole Hawkins’ studies show that after only three minutes of looking at a fashion magazine, 70 percent of girls feel depressed, guilty and shameful of themselves.

“I didn’t realize there were that many girls with that many problems,” said freshman Business major Nathan Northcott. “As guys, we should all be more sensitive to their thoughts. Media has conditioned men and women to think this way and it should be addressed more.”

Magazines, modeling recruits and television have created this “perfect” image. These women are airbrushed, digitally altered or suffering from eating disorders. These women have unreal or unhealthy bodies and they make women feel obligated to lose weight.

Although it’s evident that the media is altering people’s perceptions of what beauty should be, it’s beginning to affect people at younger ages. Girls from ages five to seven were reported to have less esteem for their body and a greater desire to be thinner after exposure to Barbies versus girls who were shown images of dolls with a healthy size, such as the “Emme Doll.”

Adding to the negative effect, Mattel Inc., which manufactures Barbie, has decided their current model of Barbie is too fat and needs to become thinner. Such a change will only drastically increase the negative tilt of these statistics, further highlighting the fact that by age five, 14 percent of girls are dieting, and by age 10, 80 percent will be dieting.

“I feel this is definitely a very prominent, needed topic,” said Amy Grubbs from Student Health Services. “Body image is a huge issue on campus and across all campuses throughout the country. This is why we have Dr. Nicole Hawkins speak once a semester.”

As much as we’d all like to believe it’s not, body image distortion and eating disorders are a common issue on this campus.

“Guys and girls come in struggling with just their body image, seeking help before it can translate into a disorder,” Grubbs said.

While media’s influence on beauty still remains a prominent issue, there is progress being made. The Australian edition of Marie Claire recently featured former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins on it’s cover with no airbrushing. A few months later, Jessica Simpson posed for a cover that wasn’t airbrushed either.

“The media should show a variety of images, not images of perfection,” said Dr. Hawkins. “Some are moving toward that and being received positively by all audiences.”

Aside from this, just promoting awareness of the issue can make all the difference for even one girl.

Even though the media has defined what “perfect” should be, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to change that definition. For girls of all ages, self-esteem and body image can be improved through small steps as the media industry continues its progress.

One Response to "You can’t airbrush the real thing: how the media affects women"

  1. Ken Wade   November 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    As the father of three daughters I thank you for your well-written article. Even my fourteen year old, an avid dancer: thin, muscular and healthy thinks she needs to loose weight. When I point out to her that at ninety-five pounds she has no weight to loose, and I can’t imagine why she thinks she does, she replies, “Dad, you would have to be a woman to understand.”

    Reply

Leave a Reply