Girl vs. Media | Teen Ink

Girl vs. Media

October 26, 2010
By Malley BRONZE, Uniontown, Ohio
Malley BRONZE, Uniontown, Ohio
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

She looked at the full length mirror, and then at the Cosmo magazine she held in her delicate hand. Then once again, she looked at the mirror in pure disgust. She tried sucking her gut in, combing her hair over to the opposite side simply picking and prodding at each aspect of herself. She turned to the side and closely examined her body from head to toe, and then did the same thing to the sickly thin, glam, retouched model posing seductively. She let out an extraneous sigh and fell back onto her bed. Six out of ten girls go through this drawn out routine each day. The media portrays a negative effect on a teen girl’s way of thinking, size, and body, and a stop needs to be put to it.

One of the most important ideas the media affects is a teen girl thinking how pretty she is. Magazines, TV, every type of media today is giving you tips on your makeup, and hair to look “stylish” and “beautiful” and “perfect”. Very rarely do the media tell you that you are beautiful just the way you are. Since teen girls are exposed to this media, they are constantly worried about their appearance, and they fear that they are not pretty enough. Exposure to highly attractive images negatively affects the subject’s feelings about her own self-appearance (Frith and Mueller). Hollywood stars’ craze of cosmetic surgery also influences teen girls. The drastic changes in a celebrity’s facial appearance makes teen girls think that they too can get surgery to fix what they think are flaws on themselves to make them look better and feel better. They still don’t think they are good enough. Teens should not listen to this type of negative media.

Size is another concept teens focus on and worry about. The media is also to blame for this. Going through the checkout at a local grocery store you can almost always find a magazine with a phrase like “Drop 20 lbs. in 2 weeks!” or “Get rid of that fat!” and several other slogans. Often they are encouraging women and in many cases teen girls to lose weight and be the perfect size. Even if the magazines aren’t intended to be that way that is how they are often interpreted. Ignoring this negative influence is difficult, but that is what teens need to do. Research has shown that models featured in the media are getting thinner and thinner each year. Female college students who were repeatedly exposed to very thin models in ads felt increased guilt, shame, insecurity, and body dissatisfaction (Martin and Gentry). The uniformly thin, perfectly proportioned models contribute to unhappiness with their own bodies among young girls and thus undermine self confidence and reinforce problems like eating disorders. Advertisers contribute to this “body-as-object” sort of focus for female adolescents by using difficult to attain standards of physical attractiveness in ads (Frith and Mueller). Teen girls are still trying to become the perfect “skinny type” and they should not have to feel this way simply by observing the media.

The media also frequently focuses on the “ideal girl”. The idea of a perfect girl really has a negative effect on teen girls because nearly no girl is like the “ideal girl” that the media portrays. A small cinched waist, flawless clear skin, and luscious smooth hair are just some of the numerous expectations of teenage girls. Does the media know there are very few girls like that? Do they know that teen girls try their hardest to fit these qualities? They are unrealistic expectations and no girl should try to change themselves to fit someone else’s standards. Also often shown through the media is the size of a woman’s breasts. Advertisers and photographers focus on woman’s breasts regardless of the category that is being displayed. The idea that sexy equals big breasts have created feelings of inferiority in young girls. Commonly used in the media is the phrase “bigger is better”. Plastic surgeons report that they see girls as young as fourteen seeking surgery for their breasts (Frith and Mueller). Being put under this pressure, girls think of themselves as less attractive, not skinny enough, and not pretty enough to be the ideal girl with an ideal way of living. The media is to blame for that and this epidemic should be changed for the happiness and well-being of teenage girls.
The girl looks back into the mirror and back down to the magazine in her hand. She glances over the cover articles on the body, face, and ways to improve. Then with only a moment’s notice, she swiftly throws the article in the trash and she sits down on her bed with a smile of satisfaction. She is not going to keep criticizing her body; she is going to embrace herself and love her look just the way it is. She is the one of the few girls who doesn’t want to fall into the trap of the media. She continues on living and being a normal teen, without being affected by the negativity of the media like every teen girl should.

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This article has 7 comments.

KIRSTEN said...
on Jan. 22 2013 at 2:30 pm
Hey, i am also trying to find some information on how the media affetcs teenage girls, with my main focus being anorexia nervosa. It would be very helpful if you could provide me with some information or even images so that i can include them in my artwork course. Thank you.

SARAH said...
on Dec. 8 2012 at 5:18 am
Hi, I am researching about the media effect on teenage girls. It is a year long project and I have few questions after I read your article. If you have time, and if your interested, please email me back. Thank you for your time. 

SARAH said...
on Dec. 5 2012 at 8:17 pm
Hi, I am doing a year long project on media effects on teenage body and their self esteem. I have few questions for my project and I need help. Please email me back if you have time. Thank you.

on Nov. 30 2012 at 2:28 pm
I love your decription of young girl's daily activities. Many teenage girls literally compare themselves to this ideal body type. I am in college now and after taking several wome's gender studies classes, I have learned a lot about hwo the media affects us. I watched this movie Sexy Baby, and I would recommend it for anyone who wants to watch a good documentary about the effects of the media on our development. We need to spend less time worry about how we look to other people and focus on our own inner beauty. We are all beautiful in our own unique way and we are smart enough not to let the media ruin our self-esteem 

on Dec. 8 2010 at 7:25 pm
Hope_Princess BRONZE, Hebron, New Hampshire
4 articles 4 photos 376 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible."

I think this was really awesome. I'm skinny, but I keep telling myself I need to be skinnier when I see models and actresses. After reading this I've decided to stop telling myself that. A bit of body fat doesn't hurt. :-)

Definitely keep writing, you're awesome- I love the ending!

on Nov. 28 2010 at 7:31 pm
SKSK1214 BRONZE, Davie, Florida
1 article 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
"And suddenly we see that love costs all we have and will ever be. Yet its only love which sets us free.", & "If we don't believe theres reason for living then we'll never know."

At the end, when she throws the magazine away, it seemed a little bit cheesey, however the rest of the essay was fantastic! it was informative and insightful! way to spread the word on this issue that seems so prevailent in todays world! Keep writing!

on Nov. 5 2010 at 3:38 pm
WritingJulia SILVER, Binghamton, New York
6 articles 0 photos 72 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Kind words can be short and easy to say, but their echoes are truly endless." -Mother Theresa

I think this is fantastic!  I'm even going to use it for an assignment in my health class.