Media influence on the female form.

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The American definition of beauty is visible in any one of our forms of popular culture, whether it’s TV, movies, music videos, magazines, and advertisements, even billboards. “Women’s bodies sell products that have nothing to do with women, like tires, cars, liquor, and guns” (Pipher, Reviving Ophelia 42).  As if using women’s bodies to sell completely unrelated products weren’t harmful enough, the women used to sell these products are a far cry from what most women in America look like.  The average American woman is 5’4” and weighs 140 pounds, whereas the average professional model in this country is 5’9’’ and weighs roughly 110 pounds (Barnhill 49).  Consistently, women are diminished by advertisers to pretty body parts used to sell products, a practice that perpetuates the glorification of this unreasonable ideal of beauty.

  Women’s bodies have not only become a huge money-maker for advertisers, businesses have picked up on women’s insecurities about their bodies and have capilatized on these insecurities.  On one hand, advertisers heavily market weight-reduction programs and present young anorexic models as the paradigm of ideal beauty; on the other hand, the media floods the airwaves and magazine pages with ads for junk food.  In 1996, the diet industry (as in diet foods, diet programs, diet drugs) took in over $40 billion dollars, and that number is still climbing (Facts and Figures 1).  

Young women seem to be especially affected by our culture’s obsession with weight and beauty. America today is a girl-destroying place where young women are encouraged to sacrifice their true selves in exchange for false selves that are more culturally acceptable.  “More than any other group in the population, girls and their bodies have borne the brunt of twentieth-century social change and we ignore that fact at our peril.” (Brumberg 21).

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        There is no doubt that the media, mainly TV, movies, magazines, and advertising, is an extremely powerful force in shaping who we are as a culture, and as individuals. “For many, television has become like a surrogate parent” “It socializes them, entertains them, comforts them, disciplines them, and tells them what they can and cannot do.”(Friedman, 75). Everyday we are bombarded by images of thinness, youth, and beauty; these things falsely promise many things, such as success, fame, fortune, love, self-confidence, power, and an overall sense of control over one’s life. And it is no mystery why we buy ...

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