Media Body Image and the Effect on Teenage Girls


The media has been effective in promoting how women should look, thetype of body to have, hair color, clothes to wear and expectedbehavior. The media through magazines, television shows andadvertisement campaigns portrays the ideal female as someone that isslender with tiny waist, no cellulites, have long legs, smooth faceand without imperfections. As a result, men expected women to looklike the models they see on advertisements. Women too feel that theyneed to resemble the idealized women. However, what individuals failto comprehend is that the media publicizes a fake idea on howattractive females should resemble. This is because the images arephotoshoped. The problem is that many girls admire the charactersthey see in magazines, television shows and advertisements campaigns,which negatively affects their physical and mental wellbeing.

The paper argues that the excessive using of photoshop and depictingthe perfect media body image affects teenage girls. The girls areunable to accept and appreciate their different body image enhancingthe possibility of depression.

The paper responds to, the extreme to which teenage girls look up towomen they view in magazines, the effect of having a perfectappearance on physical and mental wellbeing and how teenage girlscompare themselves to women portrayed by media. We live at a timewhen technology developments make it impossible to escape the media.Advertisements are the norm, printed in magazines, aired ontelevisions and in form of advertisement campaigns. Most of theadvertisements feature the female character. There is always a womanadvertising products ranging from clothes, perfume among others. Thewoman is always slender, has a petite waist and tones of makeup, tomake them attractive. Due to constant media portrayal of the idealwoman, many teenage girls find it difficult to accept their bodies,thinking that they can only become attractive by resembling womenfeatured in advertisements.

Research shows that the media has a negative effect on self-image.Television, films, magazines as well as the internet flood teenagerswith pictures and pressure on ideal bodies (Berry &amp Walker,2013). The problem is the unrealism in the media body image. Theimages are edited, airbrushed versions of females depicting a verylittle sample of the actual body image. Regardless, many teenagegirls believe that the images are a real representation of an idealwoman’s body resorting to unhealthy measures to look as attractive.Body image is an intricate factor of the self-idea, which concerns aperson’s sensitivity and feelings concerning their body, as well asoutward appearance (Berry &amp Walker, 2013). Women of all agesappear to be specifically susceptible to disturbance concerning bodyimage. Body image discontent in females is properly documented inmental health studies. Researchers have regarded female’sapprehensions with their outward appearances as ‘normativediscontent’. This means that body discontent has an effect on allfemales to some extreme.

Women have been noted to feel dissatisfied with physical looks at agreater level than males. It seems that body discontent is closelytied to appearance-related perceptions instead of physical reality.Individuals are at higher peril to depict disturbed body image whenholding dysfunctional beliefs and perceptions about their outwardappearance as those presented through the media (Berry &amp Walker,2013). Apprehensions over weight, as well as appearance relatedissues frequently crop up earlier in women’s development,progressing all through their life. The significance of physical bodyimage is insisted and reinforced early in many girls’ development.Research demonstrates that close to half of girls aged between sixand eight have demonstrated a desire to be slimmer. Body discontentand poor eating habits are particularly widespread among teenagers.Body image is specifically a major factor as women undergo pubertybecause of the pressure to look attractive.

Currently, media images depict an unreal and even harmful standard offeminine attractiveness, which has a strong influence on the mannerteenage girls see themselves. From the media’s body image, thinnessis accepted for females to be regarded as attractive. Body images inmusic videos, advertisements, and TV depict the ideal female aswhite, slender, having blonde hair, tall and with a tubular body. Themedia comprises images of females that meet the impracticablestandards of what the female body should look like, making it appearas though it is okay for females to meet the ideal. Ultra-slendermodels are very widespread in the media that it becomes impossible toevade their exposure, continually reinforcing a discrepancy for manyteenage girls between their real body size and what is consideredideal. Over the years, female’s body sizes have become bigger, associety standards become more slender. The inconsistency makes itprogressively hard for teenage girls to attain the presentsociocultural ideal body image. Such standards of perfection areunreal as well as perilous. Most of the models publicized on mediaare about 20% below healthy body weight hence, they meet thediagnostic criteria used in determining anorexia nervosa.

Studies have progressively demonstrated that recurrent exposure ofteenage girls to thin models promotes body image issues, as well asdisordered eating in most women. Close to all media, forms compriseunreal images, while the negative effects of the idealisticdepictions are apparent in many researchers. Schooler et al (2004)concludes that females who report more exposure to televisionprograms in teenage years are more probable to face great levels ofbody image disorder. Additionally, particular kinds of programmingappear to trigger greater levels of body discontent in teenagers. Ina research by Tiggerman and Slater (2003), teenager that watchedmusic videos, containing slender models felt enhanced levels ofnegative body image disturbance. Music videos appear to sendspecifically direct communication that females need to meet thesociocultural ideal females featured in the videos are a directdepiction of what culture regards as attractive. Notably, musictelevision is progressively a powerful media form, specifically forteenage girls.

Conventional magazines are a different source of ideal female images.It is alarming, as most females, specifically teenage girls, havebeen noted to read the material regularly. Conclusion from one studydepict that 83% of teenage girls agree to reading fashion magazinesfor more than four hours weekly (Thompson &amp Heinberg, 1999). Thereasons for reading the magazines differ, but further researchdemonstrates that teenage girls read the magazines with the objectiveof getting information on beauty, fashion, and fitness (Tiggerman,2003). Magazines are publicized to assist females improves theirappearances, through availing information, as well as productsexpected to make the women look and feel good. Teenagers read themagazines with the aspiration that following the advice provided willmake them attractive and socially acceptable. Advertisements enticefemales to buy these media forms, and are able to become a majorinfluence on girls’ feeling of self and gratification with theirappearance. Constant reading of magazines correlated to great levelsof low self-esteem.

Teenage girls that read and follow advice from fashion magazinesdisplay great levels of a thin-ideal internalization. Theinternalization is a strong risk factor for advancement of weightanxiety, as well as disorderly eating patterns. Research alsodemonstrates that females that view images of females from mediapictured as having the ideal body demonstrate enhanced levels ofinsecurity, guilt, depression and feel ashamed about their bodyimages. Low self-esteem is common among teenage girls who feel thatthey do not have the ideal body. This is because the girls haveinternalized thoughts on how they should look to be regarded associally attractive. When it becomes impossible to look liketelevision models, some teenagers may end up despising their looks,which resonates to a negative body image. In extreme cases, girlshave opted to diet to meet the ideal slender body weight.

Negative body perceptions result in the development of eatingdisorders (Tiggemann, 2003).There are numerous websites-advising people on how to lose weight. Inline with media depiction of ideal body images, the websites enhanceeating disorders like anorexia. This is because they motivate personsthat desire to lose weight to indulge in health-harming conducts tobecome thin. Research demonstrates that visiting the websites resultsin advanced negative self-perception and a longing to appear thinner(Haas et al, 2012). The websites have supposed images of persons thathave lost weight by following the dieting advice provided. In mostinstances, the images are of ultra-thin models that in most instanceshave not even followed the websites dieting advice. In addition, mostthe media models who teenage girls admire and idolize to have thesimilar body have declared having suffered from eating disorders.Having the individuals as body image role models motivates theharmful conduct of dieting to become slim.

Teenage girls are susceptible to suffering from depression. This isbecause when the media portrays the ideal body image, most of thegirls work towards having such bodies and appearance. However, sincethe images are photoshoped, it becomes improbable for the teenagegirls to resemble the television and magazine models. The girls feeldepressed when they are unable to meet the media ideal body image. Asa result, the teenagers become insecure about their body looks. Thismay compel them to isolate themselves from other people, as they areapprehensive of what people think about their appearance. In extremecases, especially when the teenage girls feel fat, they feel guiltywhen eating food that is alleged to result in more body mass. Theresult is avoiding such foods, even those that are healthy to eat,causing the teenagers to become malnutrition.


The depiction of body image by media has a negative influence onteenage girls. The media depicts the ideal woman as one that is veryslender, tall, and flawless. The reality is that these models arephotoshoped to present the media ideal. Since teenagers are exposedto such media content, they struggle to meet media body imagedemands, which are unreal. The outcome is a negative effect onteenage girls’ physical and mental status, as they experience lowself-worth, depression, eating disorders and guilt among otherissues.


Berry,S. L &amp Walker, K. (2013). Exploring adolescent views of bodyimage: the influence of media.&nbspIssuesIn Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing,36(1/2), 17-36.

Haas,C., Pawlow, L., Pettibone, J &amp Segrist, D. (2012). AnIntervention For The Negative Influence Of Media On BodyEsteem.&nbspCollegeStudent Journal&nbsp46(2),405-418.

Schooler, D., Ward, L. M.,Merriwether, A., &amp Caruthers, A. (2004). Who`s that girl:Television`s role in the body image development of young white andblack women.&nbspPsychologyof Women Quarterly, 28(1),38-47.

Thompson, J. K., &amp Heinberg, L.J. (1999). The media`s influence on body image disturbance andeating disorders: We`ve reviled them, now can we rehabilitatethem?&nbspJournalof Social Issues, 55(2),339-353.

Tiggemann, M. (2003). Mediaexposure, body dissatisfaction and disordered eating: Television andmagazines are not the same!&nbspEuropeanEating Disorders Review, 11(5),418-430.

Tiggemann, M., &amp Slater, A.(2004). Thin ideals in music television: A source of social comparison and body dissatisfaction.&nbspInternationalJournal of Eating Disorders, 35(1), 48-58.