One cannot help but become aware that body image relates to population’s judgment with regards to their own bodies. The focus here lies in arguing that it happens as most people are focused on comparing themselves to other individuals. Since people appear to be exposed to numerous media images, it is worth saying that media images occur as the major concept for a vast amount of these comparisons. Obviously, when people come to understanding the fact that their bodies emerge to be substandard due to such comparisons, they are likely to experience a serious depression; in addition, the category of those who tend to compare themselves to media images prove to be unable to cope with an extremely low self-esteem; and, consequently, they may easily develop the complex of incompleteness, which will result in exceptionally negative outcomes, including, for instance, the emergence of eating disorders, which often depend on the “woman’s view of her body” (Farley 101). One cannot but encounter the fact that the impact of media on people’s perception of the aesthetics of sexual attractiveness as well as their own body appears to be mostly ironic, given that as the US citizens turned to be heavier, female models have become much thinner and male models appeared to be more muscled. In view of many widely-acknowledged sociologists as well as psychologists, it becomes apparent that one should distinguish several theories elucidating the way that the media impacts people’s body image, incorporating social comparison theory, emerging self-schema interpretation, and third-person influence. Based on the above-said, one should be conscious that media is making it harder to find the real beauty due to the systematic displaying retouched photos and promoting body dissatisfaction.
The survey on body image – the way people tend to perceive their own bodies and how these viewpoints develop – was pioneered in the first quarter of 20th century (clearly 20s) by Paul Schilder. A peculiar thing is that Shilder’s definition of body image claims that one should consider it as “the picture of our own body which we form in our mind, the way in which the body appears to ourselves” (Grogan 3). Several the modern- day scholars advance an assertion that the definition proves to underestimate all the sophisticated entity of the given field of studies; one should be conscious that body image is likely to refer to many different constructs starting from judgements in respect of the issues of weight, size, to being satisfied with the abovementioned areas. Evidently, the term “body image’ incorporates both the way the individuals perceive the bodies cognitively and feel about their appearance. An attention should be drawn to the fact that the surveys on body image bear witness to that it affects many other dimensions of people’s life. Experiencing dissatisfaction with one’s body image is likely to bring in substantial challenges to pass.
Taking a view of the strategy that the contemporary communication channels are focused on, it becomes clear that the media culture maintains the tendency of making the society feel pressured mainly about their body images; obviously, media promote “the unrealistic ‘Barbie-doll’ body shape” (Davis & Katzman 58). Therefore, the average individual appears to be exposed to hundreds of beautiful images regularly, and such images, which may often possess a sexually-oriented appeal, mirror an imaginary body image that has nothing to do with the real body image. The principle of removing media body images from the reality of today’s people results in negative consequences, including people’s unwillingness to accept their imperfect bodies. On the other hand, one should pay special attention to the fact that bodies portrayed by the media emerged to be much thinner as well; and those who contradict the slender ideal bodies “prejudice through their lifespan” (Grogan 10), respectively. Considering the issue of pressure about body image, it is worth saying that such a practice has undergone multiple phases of its formation; and, consequently, before the rise of the digital era, which can be characterized by the introduction of electronic mass media, the messages with regards to body images could be looked through in different books and newspapers – and going back to earlier days – in various paintings as well. Present-day media prove to have a financial investment in maintaining body dissatisfaction; obviously, media revenues are much dependent on drawing special attention to the body industry. Such a connection gives evidence that the link between communication channels and advertising unreal body images raises serious questions regarding the final outcomes of consumer trends (Vancura).
The ideal body shapes introduced by the communication channels have turned to be much thinner and fitter since the second half of the 20th century; and one should consider the fact that comparing the reinterpretation of the body images among both genders, women’s body image has undergone a much more substantial transformation. At the same time, as for the US society, people became heavier here. To be precise, the number of obese people has tripled. The movement towards thinner women’s body images has demonstrated a slow development since the early 20th century. It is important to admit that in the 1920’s through newspapers as well as the emerging cinematography, a much thinner body image was widely popularized. The ideal woman’s form has faced substantial changed during the Great Depression; all in all, the ideal form remained comparatively slender during the hard times of the Second World War. Regarding the postwar trend towards the issue of domesticity, it has resulted in the occurrence of ultra-feminine figures, including such as, for instance, Marilyn Monroe who apparently had larger breasts yet much thinner waists; in any way, one should become aware that it was just a temporary shift of focus from thin body images. To put the matter differently, female models continued to shrink during the 1980’s and 1990’s. It was the time of putting the females into much narrower body frames.
Based on the history of women’s change in beauty over the decades, one can understand that the females’ norms of beauty images require being thin; concerning the males, they are told to possess sculpted muscles. Today’s people appear to exist within the framework of media-saturated space. Numerous surveys suggest that most females tend to be hooked on reading magazines, the bulk of all people watch approximately 4 hours of television each day; additionally, the population is exposed to hundreds of body images while having a walk, reading the newspapers, and surfing the Web, which “remains largely unregulated” (Bell & Dittmar 489). One should vividly see an entirely negative influence of such a constant exposure. The various studies suggest that the impact is usually felt in several fields. The thing is that people tend to compare themselves to unreal body images they observe via communication channels, internalize these artificial images as the standard, and absorb the information that they should take into consideration the significance of their appearance. A peculiar thing is that the process of comparing oneself to stereotypic body images represented by media as well as internalizing the images as the principal argument is likely to negatively affect people; all in all, modern-day watching culture cannot tell the truth about self, and the fact that “fat bodies out of control no longer appeared powerful and competent” (Schwartz 122) does not make sense.
Obviously, the influence of media on body images appears to be rather complex; it is not just about the exposure that forces people to distinguish the shortcomings of their bodies; one should understand that the individuals are not struck equally by the exposure to unreal body images. The thing is that some people react rapidly to beautiful photos and the others emerge to be resistant. The distinct reactions to media images can be explained by individual virtues. In other words, those being more self-conscious, focused on predominately the appearance and who suffer from eating disorders are more likely to be affected by the media – a mechanism deteriorating every day’s life of those who have weight problems (Pollack- Seid). The studies give evidence that the females consider the media as the key source of the comprehended societal pressure to follow the trend for a thin body.
A cross-sectional survey observing the trends within the area of body image satisfaction made it certain that females had reported relatively more satisfaction in 1960’s than in 1990’s, whereas the males’ attitude towards the body images had appeared to have the same body satisfaction between the abovementioned timeframes; and, consequently, it is worth saying that some researchers consider mass media “to negatively impact females’ body image” (Agliata & Tantleff-Dunn 7) only.
In view of many researchers, it becomes apparent that the construct of body comparison is likely to be a probable mediator of socio-cultural body dissatisfactions in both sexes. They advance an assertion that body comparison is firmly grounded on the social comparison interpretation, which focuses on the evaluative procedure that engages both searchings for the message and making some critical decisions relative to other people. It is worth admitting that the social comparison theory proves body dissatisfaction to be caused by the way people usually interpret what is broadcasted; in addition, it is important to highlight the fact that media portrayal of the beauty image does not evoke equal effects among all the individuals.
Researchers managed to find an obvious link between exposure to the media’s promotion of the thin-ideal body and body dissatisfaction, which is increasing at a rapid rate. The results of widely-recognized studies make it clear that females’ body dissatisfaction has increased dramatically over the decades; it has been assumed that this trend may be caused by the media’s focus on promoting an exaggerated portrayal of unreal body image. Since the average women’s body-mass index demonstrates an increasing spiral, it has been hypothesized that there might be the acceptance of larger body shapes, termed “real bodies”. Even though women’s body satisfaction has significantly increased over the past decades, the males’ body satisfaction remained mostly the same. Considering the details of the researchers’ contemplation upon such body-satisfaction divergences, it becomes evident that their suggestions are mainly based on distinguishing the distinctions within the area of body comparison.