Modern media sources are increasingly seen as having substantial power to shape and control the attitudes and opinions of people. In the United States, specifically, there has been a rise in both eating disorders and obesity that have some connection to the media. In addition, the contradiction between fatty food prevalence and the ideal woman as under-weight has become more established in our American culture. The obsession with female appearance is not new in our short American history, but it is now much more ubiquitous than ever. Similar views of flawless, skinny women as ideal females are not present to the same extent in many other societies. Within the United States, however, women as well as men are bombarded with representations in the media that may affect the way they feel about themselves. These representations and may lead to confusion about what is healthy and what the media says is beautiful, and many people do not realize the extent to which these images may be related to body image. Although media messages are not the only sources of psychologically and physically debilitating ideal female images, media have played a major role in communicating these ideas to the public and thus, have the potential to influence the mindset of the American people.
Emily Moore, ’06 Gainesville, MO
Sponsor: Carolyn Zerbe Enns