Nicole Ruben TRF 235 January 31, 2012 LIRWA The Effects of the Media on Young Women Women seen in the media are typically gorgeous, thin, and flawless. Seeing these characteristics promotes an unrealistic body type that many girls strive to have. What this does is lower the self-esteem of these girls, ultimately leading to unhealthy eating habits and disorders. A study done by Harvard researcher Anne Becker demonstrated this by examining the effects of television in Fiji. Television was introduced in Fiji in 1995. At this time, only three percent of girls there reported they vomited to control their weight.
However, three years later, fifteen percent of girls reported they acquired the same behavior. The culture in Fiji generally promotes eating healthy and looking robust, so this is considered a dramatic change in behavior for a culture that encourages the opposite (Corydon, 1). Another factor consider when looking at eating disorders caused by the media is that twenty years ago, models weight eight percent less than the average woman. Today, they weigh twenty-three percent less (Media-Awareness, 1). Sexualization is another effect the media has on young girls.
An article by BBC News defines sexualization as “occurring when a person’s value comes only from her or his sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is portrayed purely as a sex object. ” Television shows such as Gossip Girl and other shows similar to Gossip Girl substantially consist of sexual content. A large percentage of the viewers of these shows are young girls who look up to the characters they see on television. When they see their role models dressing and acting the way they do, they want to do the same.
One study found that adolescents who have seen a lot of media with sexual content were more than twice as likely as others to have had sex by the time they were sixteen (TIME). Furthermore, many songs heard on the radio appeal to young girls, but the lyrics are not suitable for them. Katy Perry’s hit song “Last Friday Night” acts as a quintessential example of this. Some of the lyrics say, “Last Friday night / We went streaking in the park / Skinny dipping in the dark / Then had a menage-a-trois…” The outfits Katy Perry wears in her music videos, at her concerts, and on her posters also contribute to the sexualization of young girls.
In her “California Girls” music video she wore a provocative bikini-like outfit with cans attached to her breasts that were shooting out whipped cream. As a role model to many young girls, Katy Perry has the power to be very influential in their lives; however, it seems as though she is going about it the wrong way. The media can also influence many girls to start using drugs and alcohol at a young age. Similar to sexualization, drugs and alcohol are presented in many television shows and other forms of media.
Young girls want to fit in with what they see in the media, so when they see their favorite characters on their favorite TV shows doing drugs they are likely to want to do the same. They are not doing it because they are interested in trying drugs and alcohol; they are merely doing it because they think it is the cool thing to do. Many magazines also have stories about celebrities going to rehab, getting belligerently drunk, etc. Although it is likely that an adolescent may stay away from a certain drug if they see their role model has had a negative experience with it, they are likely to do the drug if they don’t see any disadvantages to it.
For example, a video of Miley Cyrus doing salvia went viral in 2010. It showed her hysterical laughing from the drug and hallucinating from it, making her think that her boyfriend was in front of her, even though he wasn’t. The video essentially made the drug look appealing. Being a Disney star, it can be debated that Miley Cyrus is even more of a role model to young girls than Katy Perry. If her young fans see her doing this, they are likely to want to follow. Commercials also influence drug use in adolescents. For example, the intention of beer commercials is to make beer look appealing.
Jay leno was once asked why he does commercials for Doritos corn chips but refuses to do beer commercials. “You don’t see dead teenagers on the highway because of corn chips” was his answer (Singer, 415). In today’s society, the media affects young girls in many negative ways. It causes eating disorders, sexualization, and the use of drugs and alcohol. Seeing flawless women all over the media lowers the self-esteem of the average girl, which can ultimately lead to disorders such as depression, bulimia, and anorexia. Television shows and songs with provocative material encourage adolescents to behave more suggestively.
This includes dressing and acting provocatively and taking part in the use of drugs and alcohol. There is something that should be done about these detrimental effects of the media, possibly teaching children about understanding how the media works or decreasing the accessibility of explicit content to children. Is it really possible to prevent adolescents from being exposed to such content as much as they are? Will the effects of such content get worse in the future? These are questions to think about as the media not only affects our society today, but it will affect societies and generations to come.
Works Cited “BBC NEWS | Health | Sexualisation ‘harms’ Young Girls. ” BBC News – Home. BBC News, 20 Feb. 2007. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. <http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/health/6376421. stm>. “Beauty and Body Image in the Media. ” Media Awareness Network | Reseau education Medias. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. <http://www. media-awareness. ca/english/issues/stereotyping/women_and_girls/women_beauty. cfm>. Ireland, Corydon. “Fijian Girls Succumb to Western Dysmorphia | Harvard Gazette. ” Home – Harvard Public Affairs & Communications. 19 Mar. 2009. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. <http://news. harvard. du/gazette/story/2009/03/fijian-girls-succumb-to-western-dysmorphia/>. Luscombe, Belinda. “The Truth About Teen Girls. ” TIME Magazine 11 Sept. 2008. Print. Max, Martin. Mckee, Bonnie. Perry, Katy. (2011). Last Friday Night. [Recorded by Katy Perry]. On Last Friday Night (T. G. I. F. ). United States: Capitol Records. Pozniak, Alexa. “Part 1: Media Portrayal of Drugs. ” ABC News. ABC News Network, 23 Feb. 2002. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. <http://abcnews. go. com/Health/story? id=116947>. Singer, Dorothy G. Singer, Jerome L. (2001). “Handbook of Children in the Media. ” Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.