Media contributes to stereotyping teenagers, giving them an inaccurate image of the world. Magazines such as ‘Seventeen’ are filled with images of skinny models whom girls compare themselves with and feel insecure.
Media creates an ideal image of what a girl should look like. This makes girls realize that they are not what the media image is and they develop insecurities. Insecurities about body image are heightened due to the bold and short headings such as “Get abs this way” or “How to get the perfect beach body” or even “How to get the perfect tan”.
The use of such headings makes these things seem important and necessary to possess. What’s funny though is that in the 90s, (probably before most of us were even born) the use of the word ‘body-image’ or ‘body-shaming’ was very limited. It’s now, with the ever-growing media, that all these insecurities have come about.
Girls are developing eating disorders which are very harmful; boys are taking steroids for that fab body. All this at the age of 16 or 17!
Teens are also going for plastic surgery which is not only harmful but also painful. They are ready to go through the pain to look beautiful.
As far as the 90s is concerned, there’s also a massive difference in the magazines published then and now. The first image is of The Seventeen magazine published in 1985 and the second one of the magazine published in 2010 (see photos).
The first cover features a regular girl, 18-year-old dancer Pamela Jones. The photo is neither photo-shopped nor made to look artificially “sexy”. Inside too, the magazine had more substance than any magazine that’s published nowadays. It even included art, prize-winning fiction and photography.
Whereas magazines nowadays are only full of fashion pieces, makeup tricks and weight-loss tips. Magazines are becoming more and more superficial.
The images of women in magazines have also evolved. The models are becoming skinnier and skinnier, yet the editors are not satisfied and use overzealous photo-shopping to make them somehow look even better. These magazines contribute to insecurities and lower a teenager’s self-confidence. A teen girl who’s on the healthier side is likely to have a lower self-esteem than let’s say a thin girl. She’ll get teased in school and be made to feel ugly no matter how talented or intelligent or kind she may be. Yet not just healthy, even skinny girls feel insecure as they are teased for being too skinny.
From one extreme to the other, nobody is left in peace.
We do know that nobody’s perfect then why target the one imperfect thing in a person? No one is to blame but magazines with their ‘inaccurate’ image of perfect.
This is another image of a recently published issue of Seventeen magazine. It features actress Troian Bellisario whose cover story highlights her struggle with and recovery from an eating disorder. Just below it, we see another interesting headline – ‘How to get an insane body!’.
The harmless combination of these two messages is painfully clear. They’re highlighting a serious health problem among teenagers while simultaneously promoting body ideals which are what drives girls towards such extremes.
A research showed that over 50% of Americans aren’t happy with their current weight, 53% of 13-year-olds are unhappy with their bodies. This number grows to 78% by the time the girls reach 17 and over 50% teen girls and 30% of teen boys engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes and taking laxatives.
One of the leading causes of depression is said to be low self-esteem. This comes about when a teen feels that she’s not enough or thin. She then starts hating herself and her body and soon everything else around her and hence finds herself undergoing depression. Issues concerning body image do target both boys and girls but girls are definitely more affected than their male counterparts and hence are seen feeling more insecure.
When the teenage years of a person are the time when he/she should love himself/herself, teenagers nowadays are seen struggling to accept themselves the way they are. All of this because of a magazine in which perfection was portrayed with the help of a tall, skinny and make-up laden model. Is this really how shallow the world has become? Mistaking pretty for intelligent or skinny for perfect. These models, they’re far from perfect. But so is everyone else. So why not just love ourselves for who we are and everyone else too? Let’s redefine beauty, let’s never stereotype and
Let’s forget about perfect because let’s face it, nobody is or ever will be perfect. So let’s just try to be the best version of ourselves because beauty is not in the face, it’s a light in the heart.