Health, Opinion, Seward Schools

The Media Causing Body Image Issues in Teens and Young Adults

Recently, there has been a backlash against holding the media responsible for causing body image issues for teens through false imagery that sets impossible standards and causing the development of significant health concerns, but let’s be clear, the media is responsible for this. California State University at Northridge said that the average child (including teenagers) watches 20,000 television commercials every year. Many of these commercials show bodies that have been edited to look better. Anything that we watch for so long will have an effect on our minds. Every year tens of thousand of ads are thrown at teens all across the U.S., selling anything and everything. It’s not exactly what the ad is selling, but more of the image that creeps it’s way into the minds of teens everywhere. Anyone can sell a product, but the question is: what is the media doing to sell this product?

The media uses models that don’t have the general population’s body type combined with Photoshop to alter the look of the person selling the product to more of an expected standard of beauty. Most every teen sees this standard as the perfect body (i.e. size zero and perfect curves or the ripped body and tanned skin). No matter the gender, the media bombards today’s teens with ads that include false bodies. Many say that we are responsible to set our own standards, but it is very hard to do that when this is all that the media shows. The sheer amount of exposure deeply impacts teens making it almost impossible to ignore. Although not in a very obvious way at first. To start, it slowly breaks down what they think is perfect for them in minds of young children from the ages 5-10, and then it begins to create a perfect false reality in their mind. Many teens commonly  seek this, because teens are vulnerable to applications of peer pressure and peer normalities. This begins the process of wanting a new body image or the “perfect body” image. With a realistic look at this situation, the body is anything but perfect. It slowly kills confidence and self esteem with every aspect. In extreme cases it can lead to depression and suicide as a whole.  

After so long of seeing these false images that have been paired with photoshop and unrealistic models, teens begin to want that body type even if it doesn’t actually exist. This can lead to much larger health problems (i.e. depression, anorexia, bulimia, self hate, etc…). Many will try to argue that it is extremely rare to develop these kinds of health issues from a few simple ads, but it’s more significant than one would think. The media has been seen as a root of the problem. These ads cause young women (and even young men) to have a dissatisfying feeling when they’re looking at their own body. Disordered eating appears to be stronger within young adults and teens. This could suggest the long term exposure to television during childhood. This sets the damage and negative effects of the media during adulthood.

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As you can see, the media has quite a bit to be blamed for and needs to be held responsible for their actions. The media’s false images can cause teens to develop harsh health concerns. Many people will try to argue that it isn’t the media’s fault because we should be able to set our own standard that it is rare for anyone to develop health issues because of a few ads, but many teens still do. As you can see, this backlash needs to be resolved by fixing what the media throws out at teens and young adults.

 

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