Sunday, February 24, 2013

Women, girls especially, have seemingly always had an uneasy relationship with the media and advertising. So often we hear about how advertising and media pressure girls to look a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way. As we mentioned last week in class, an example of this obsession over looks can be seen in pre-awards show coverage of celebrities and what they’re wearing. Dresses get criticized, as well as hair and makeup, and more often than not their bodies in addition to that.

While I agree with Jean Kilbourne that an absurd amount of pressure is put on young women today in the media, one interesting thing to note is a recent study which revealed that when polled, teenage girls revealed their peers, not the media, exert a greater feeling of dissatisfaction with their bodies. The study, conducted by Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson and colleagues from Texas A & M International University, revealed that “On the whole, neither television exposure to thin ideals nor social media use predicted body dissatisfaction, whereas peer competition did. Similarly, television exposure and social media use did not predict eating disorder symptoms. Peer competition predicted eating disorder symptoms long-term, though not in the short term. Interestingly, both peer competition and social media use predicted lower life satisfaction.”

I would have to agree to an extent with the findings of this study. Often we see our peers posting very flattering photos on Facebook (because let’s face it, no one wants to post unflattering ones of themselves) and they fill our news feed when others like and comment on them. While media and advertising consistently place pressure on young women, social media has opened a new Pandora’s box of troubles and comparisons that was not there in the past. I believe that when battling unrealistic images in the media, we must also look to social media to find how comparisons and unrealistic expectations play a direct role in everyday lives instead of comparisons to celebrities who live in their own world.

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