Mass media has a powerful impact on almost very aspect of social discourse. Mass media has been noted to shape opinion and culture in a myriad of ways. Despite this realization, however, one does not need to look far to see that the dynamic interaction that takes place between the public and the media is difficult to understand in absolute terms. For instance, the uses and gratifications theory was developed to explore why people use a particular media. The goal in this case is to discern what draws an individual to a specific form of media rather than to examine the impact of the media content on the individual. Clearly, the existence of this theory suggests that there is a complex interaction that occurs between media and the individual. For this reason, understanding the impact of media on some aspect of culture or social discourse requires some consideration of the dynamic interplay that occurs between media and receiver and receiver and media.Utilizing this as a basis for research, this investigation considers the media's impact on women's body image. Many scholars have argued that mass media, with its portrayals of super thin models, has had a negative impact on how women view their body.
[...] As such, the mass media creates a culture that supports the image of thinness as desirable; further placing pressure on women to attain this preferred body type. Uses and Gratification Theory While cultivation theory clearly provides a means to better understand the nonlinear relationship that occurs between society and mass media, there are other theories that further demonstrate the complex nature of the relationship between the media and the development of society and culture. As noted in the outset of this investigation, the uses and gratification theory of mass media demonstrates that individuals use mass media as a means of achieving some degree of gratification. [...]
[...] Because the women were so much different than those that are seen in mass media, the impact of the Dove campaign was on the produced more shock than value. Pollack argues that many women simply do not want to see images that remind them of themselves. As such, the Dove ad did not have widespread appeal with some groups. Unfortunately, what this suggests is that the images and stereotypes of women that have been created by the mass media have become so entrenched in popular culture that when real women are presented in mass media the images they represent are seen as shocking. [...]
[...] Cortese goes on to note that advertisers have become so caught up in developing the right pitch to sell their products that they have become unconscious of the true impact that advertising has on the individual. By focusing so much on the issue of appearance Cortese argues that, “This can only increase the anxiety that many girls and women feel about their own appearance” (p. 56). Thus, it is not surprising to find that may women fall victim to problems such as eating disorders. [...]
[...] Placing this in the context of the impact of mass media on women's bodies it becomes clear that the anxiety and inadequacy that is fostered in the context of advertising has had a profound impact on women. Because advertisers seek to induce a state of anxiety that will ultimately impact the decision of the consumer to purchase a product, the consumer falls victim to the efforts of the advertiser to persuade. Unfortunately, over the course of the last several decades, the practices used by advertisers have become so involved in the context of human psychology that they have, for many women, promulgated extreme insecurity and inadequacy. [...]
[...] When applied to the issue of how mass media impacts the body image of the female, the implications of this theory are quite extensive. Specifically, Shrum (2004) argues that, “self-selected exposure to media images may be the surface manifestation of a more active relationship with idealized images” (p. 293). What this implies is that women seek out idealized images of beauty in mass media because it fulfills some innate desire for the individual. Women that prefer to look at thin, unattainable pictures of beauty are more likely to struggle with eating disorders. [...]
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