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The media’s impact on women’s body image

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Women's Body Image and the Media.
  3. Cultivation Theory.
  4. Uses and Gratification Theory.
  5. Media Analysis of Advertising.
  6. Advertising Images of the Past.
  7. Changes Taking Place.
  8. Conclusion.

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. [...]


[...] Women's Body Image and the Media In order to begin this investigation, it is first helpful to consider what has been written about the media's impact on women's body image. Slatkavitz (2004) in her examination of the impact of mass media on female self image argues that mass media can have a detrimental impact on the development of women's self image. Bombarded with media pictures of thinness, women come to view this as the standard of beauty; despite the fact that this thin standard cannot be achieved by the average individual. [...]

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