Tag Archives: editorial

Nature vs. Nurture: The Media’s Effect on Body Image

By Sara Shea

 

Although the media is beneficial to society, it can be detrimental to the way we perceive ourselves and those around us. Through portrayals of women in advertisements and television the media can negatively affect body image and give way to eating disorders.

An estimated 8 million Americans currently suffer from eating disorders. The “thin ideal” in American society is a driving force in body image and eating issues. The “thin ideal” is the media’s glamorized portrayal of extremely thin women. While this phenomenon primarily affects women between the ages of 18 and 25, it has also been proven to effect adolescents as well as males. A study published in the Journal of Communication found that high school girls as young as 13 are effected by the media’s portrayal of ultra-thin models and celebrities.

 

The ultra thin women depicted in the media are constantly subconsciously influencing Americans. Young girls are most prone to developing eating disorders as a result of repeated exposure to such images.

The ultra thin women depicted in the media are constantly subconsciously influencing Americans. Young girls are most prone to developing eating disorders as a result of repeated exposure to such images.

Children as well as adults imitate what they see in the media. From appearance to behavior, humans learn by doing. Therefore, if children grow up seeing thin women in advertisements, on television, and in film they accept this as reality and try to imitate their appearance and their actions. This is known as the cultivation theory. By seeing images over and over people absorb what they see and are influenced by messages in the media over time.

 

Television advertisements are a perfect example of how the media uses the cultivation theory to manipulate the public. Advertisements are repetitious; the same ad can air between television programs, before a movie, and can be printed in a magazine. If said ad depicts an attractive, thin woman, viewers are repeatedly being shown how they “should” look. This constant “thin ideal” reinforcement is largely to blame for American’s obsession with body image.

Often considered a “westernized” disease, eating disorders are rare in other parts of the world. According to pubmedcentral.nih.gov, “The prevalence of eating disorders in non-Western countries is lower than that of the Western countries but appears to be increasing.” Eating disorders are on the rise across the globe because Western customs and ideals are spreading.

As nations become more technologically advanced, certain aspects of American culture are slowly finding their way around the world. From McDonalds to rap music, American culture has a huge impact on the world. The more ultra thin women are portrayed as desirable in other cultures, the more likely it is that eating disorders will become a global problem.

The media controls what the public thinks about through agenda setting. By discussing certain topics and not others, the media sets an agenda for what the public should perceive as important. According to healthywithin.com, ads for diets and diet related products generate $50 billion in revenue each year.

If public service announcements about eating disorders were made instead of ads for diet pills, the general public would be more aware of these serious issues. Unfortunately, public service announcements are often under funded, thus why not many eating disorder related announcements have aired. However, if attention was raised, and this issue became more widely known, those suffering could benefit tremendously.

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign is one of the only advertisements on the market that uses real women instead of models to market their products. A leader in the fight against body image problems in girls, Dove also holds various self confidence work shops around the country to encourage young girls to think positively about themselves and love their bodies no matter what size they are. Though these are steps in the right direction, one company cannot undo years of the media reinforcing the “thin ideal.”

The media is a powerful tool that is both beneficial and detrimental to society. Without advertisements and entertainment industries would fail and life as we know it would be dramatically altered. However, the media comes at a price. We live in a world where 13 year old girls are no longer playing with makeup and flirting with boys, but rather crash dieting and starving themselves. It is important to keep in mind that the media is not reality. What is depicted on television, in film, and in magazines is not necessarily real life. As a whole society should use the media, not be used by it.

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Domestic violence: Growing health concern

By: Jessica Turgeon

rihanna-batteredSoon after their no-show at the Grammy Awards, tabloids heard of Chris Brown’s violent attack on his now ex-girlfriend Rihanna. The couple is said to have gotten in an argument in the car, where Brown allegedly hit Rihanna multiple times in the head. With bruises all over her face and a split lip, Rihanna became a victim of domestic violence.

Domestic violence refers to a family member, intimate partner or ex-partner being physically or psychologically dominated or violated by another. It can occur between spouses or cohabitants. Anyone can be affected by domestic violence, both men and women, and people of any culture. Clearly celebrities are no exception.

There are many forms of domestic violence, including, but not limited to, physical violence, sexual or emotional abuse, intimidation, stalking, economic deprivation, and threats. According to the Centers for Disease Control, domestic violence has affected more than 32 million Americans, which is over 10% of the US population. This is a growing health concern.

Though it can affect both men and women, the emphasis of victimization has been focused on women in the past. Of course it is a stereotype that men would be the abusers, but the statistics show that the majority of cases have female victims. This is not always the case, though.

Domestic violence more often than not happens in couples, married or not. The Bureau of Justices Statistics states that in the United States, women are about six times as likely as men to experience intimate partner violence.

It is not uncommon that women in lesbian relationships experience domestic violence as well. _domestic_violence

What happened to the stereotypical fairy-tale world that our parents told us about when we were young? All little girls would grow up to marry a wonderful man who would sweep her off her feet and make her very happy forever and ever.

Unfortunately, not everybody experiences that happiness. One day everything is okay and the relationship is going fine, and the next an argument breaks out. Before you know it, there is a fight going on and punches start flying.

What causes someone to be so violent towards someone they love? It has to be more than just sudden anger. Some theories hold that there are underlying psychological causes of domestic violence such as childhood abuse, personality disorders, low self-esteem or even stress.

Instituting violence over another person, especially when it is someone you are in a relationship with, is about taking control and having power over that person. Clearly people feel the need to take control of others when they don’t have control over themselves. If not physical violence, the attacker will use emotional violence such as humiliation, intimidation, threats, isolation and neglect; anything to make the victim feel ashamed and worthless.

In reality, who is worthless is any man, or woman for that matter, who could harm anyone that they claim to love.

Hey, Aren’t You…

By: Joe Walsh

Mistaken identity is a hallmark of American culture. We genuinely love reaping the benefits of interpersonal confusion, especially when you have the same name as someone else.

Eddie Murphy portrayed a con man with the same name as a deceased senator in The Distinguished Gentleman. Name recognition on the ballot is what got him into Washington with ease.

The Distinguished Gentleman. From crawfordsworld.com.

The Distinguished Gentleman. From crawfordsworld.com.

I have even been on the receiving end of mistaken identity. During my first semester here at Marist College I was placed in College Writing II when I had never taken the test to skip College Writing I. After inquiring at the registrar’s office, I found out that another freshman, named Joe Walsh as well, had taken and passed the aforementioned test.

Due to an error on their part, he was placed in College Writing I, and I was placed in College Writing II. However, since I earned an A in the class, I was not made to take College Writing I at all. Sweet!

Were it not for this wonderful case of mistaken identity, I would have had to take two excruciatingly tedious writing classes that marginally improved my post-high school skills. Instead, I had to just take the one.

Big thanks to the other Joe Walsh. Seriously, thank you.

As pumped as I was over my minor victory, someone has me beat hands down.

Melissa Huckaby, a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher, has been accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu; a playmate of her 5-yer-old daughter.

The Accused: Tracy Huckaby. From listown.com.

The Accused: "Tracy" Huckaby. From listown.com.

Lucky for her, there is another Melissa Huckaby who happens to be a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher that lives just 14 miles away in Manteca, California. And get this: she has a 5-year-old daughter too.

Jackpot!

Instead of having to face all the social hostility from her community alone, she has help. Now she can focus more on dealing with the crushing sense of guilt that is no doubt sapping the majority of her mental energy.

The convenience of Manteca Huckaby taking flak for the Tracy, California Huckaby comes at a time of dire need. It is likely too much to deal with both the personal anguish and the social hostility, especially with all her frivolous mandatory court appearances of late.

I’m sure she wishes Manteca Huckaby would help her out there too. Unfortunately, that probably won’t pan out.

The Confused: Manteca Huckaby. From hollywoodcelebgossips.com.

The Confused: "Manteca" Huckaby. From hollywoodcelebgossips.com.

Manteca Huckaby has even been getting grief online. She recently had to take down her MySpace page from the overwhelming amount of threats sent to her. Tracy Huckaby must be tickled pink with the idea that her MySpace page has less hate messages because of it.

Fringe benefits!

It’s classic cases like these that make me love America even more. Instead of doing any real investigation, we Americans just assume what we are easily presented with has to be the truth. After all, the extra investigating is such a waste of time when we could be spending it tweeting or checking our favorite gossip blogs; perezhilton.com for me!

Celeb Obsessions: People Just Can’t Seem to Get Enough

By Amanda Lavergne

“Miley: Nick Jonas is ‘So Lovely’-But Not my Boyfriend,” “Heidi & Spencer ‘So Happy’ at Wedding Reception,” “Stars’ Real Sizes Revealed!” “Lindsay: ‘I’m So Alone,'” “Britney in Crisis!”

I could literally go on for hours and make lists and lists of these absurd tabloid headlines which are obsessed with one and only thing: celebrities. What is even worse is how obsessed the American population is with stars. Our obsession with celebrities is like our obsession with food, obese and ever growing, and it is really affecting kids now too.  We ogle them on television, movies and in concerts and cannot seem to get enough. What’s with us?

According to an article on PsychologyToday.com by Carlin Flora, even though it is easy to blame the media for this fixation, the real

Angelina Jolie and her parade of kids. Image courtesy of image.examiner.com

Angelina Jolie and her parade of kids. Image courtesy of image.examiner.com

mastermind behind it is our own brains. The article goes on to point out that “celebrities tap into powerful motivational systems designed to foster romantic love and to urge us to find a mate. Stars summon our most human yearnings: to love, admire, copy and, of course, to gossip and to jeer. It’s only natural that we get pulled into their gravitational field.”

I myself am even into the celeb photos, maybe even obsessed with them. For instance, while waiting for a flight of mine over the summer, the People issue had just come out with pictures of Brad and Angelina’s new twins and I was right there with everyone else snapping up a copy to see those gorgeous newborns.

Even at my slow moving summer job I found myself perusing the people.com website checking out the latest daily photos, numbing my mind one thumbnail photo at a time.

Another aspect I always get a kick out of is the photo album on People.com and in their magazines where they try and plead with their readers that stars are “just like us!” Let’s get this straight; they are not just like us. And they never will be. Just because Angelina Jolie is toting her multi-cultural brood through a grocery store does not make her just like me. Oh look, Jessica Alba is playing with her daughter in the sandbox, aw now she’s just like me, not quite. It’s just another fantasy drawn up to make us, the avid readers, feel more connected and on the same level as the stars we aspire after.

I mean let’s face the facts, the E! Channel is solely devoted to celebrities, they even have E! News, a news program that is all about the daily ins and outs of the celeb world

OK magazine is one of the most popular tabloid magazines. Image courtesy of etonline.com

OK magazine is one of the most popular tabloid magazines. Image courtesy of etonline.com

CNN.com, as well as other news sites have a link for entertainment that will lead you to the latest in celeb news and gossip, despite their main focus of hard news.

Sure, it’s nice to read about Amy Winehouse and her many rehab stints to make you feel better about your own life, but let’s remember to not get too wrapped up in celeb-gossip-town and make sure to bring our minds back down to reality.