29 September 2008

Body Image & The Media Assignment

** For the Women's Health evening class that I'm taking at BYU, we had to tab the positive and negative ideas portrayed in fashion magazines and then write about it. My reflection paper is below. I feel like I'm missing important facts or a paragraph clincher, so please feel free to use your editing skills to share your opinion on the topic with me. **

I am discouraged by the way society views “the media.” Big, bad magazines and television shows! “Who are these corporate executives that are forcing negative images and ideas of womanhood down our throats?” These are the types of statements I hear in our Women’s Health class. And you’re right. The CEO and Marketing team are sitting up in their corner offices looking at the next issue of Vogue and deciding what the next episode of Desperate Housewives will be about, and they say to themselves, “Sex sells.”

But who’s buying this scandalous material? Why do you think the content of these magazines hasn’t changed in the last 50 years? Why wont any other normal doll beat out the Barbie empire? Let’s just take that pointed, angry media finger and admit that there are four fingers pointing back at us.

The media is giving us exactly what we’ve been asking for: the freedom to imagine we are someone else. Someone prettier, more fashionable, and popular. The media portrays what they have discovered is society’s ideal body image – skinny enough to fit through a door with three other people, a hair style, face, and outfit not of our own and deemed perfect, all in a happy or successful life.

Popular magazines portray this ideal in a variety of ways. Models pounce the catwalk with a feisty, almost non-existent expression, wearing an outfit and coiffure that no one in their right-mind would actually strut down Main Street. They are conveying a character that we wish to emulate. Movie stars lives are paraded before us as a constant reminder of how “the elite” spend their time. Editors compare red carpet outfits and who wore them best, so we can imagine what it means to be someone besides our average selves.

Don’t misunderstand - if anyone is for the promotion of a healthier attitude and lifestyle among women and society, it’s me. I have witnessed the effect of the media on young women around the world. I know women, including my younger self, who wanted to emulate the look and life of a star, and I felt the negative effects that character swap caused. I am not a fan of the position we have put ourselves in today.

On this note, I am proud of the people who stand up to the media to tell them their ultimate standard for womanhood is off. I appreciate those who have protested the placement of pornographic material in stores, to protect the eyes of our children. I find courage with those who have written editorials to Seventeen to remind them about the message they are portraying. Thank you women of the world for writing to the producers of Gilmore Girls when the show’s plot became immoral and pointless.

The more we raise our voices towards this misperception and stop endorsing outlets for negative body image, the closer we get to healthier women. So stop buying the magazines or reading them at the check out stand. Change the channel when the shows you are watching take a unwanted direction. And most of all, let’s stop blaming the marketing man and take responsibility for the image we’re petitioning.