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Heather McMahon
Fashion and Media:
Impressionable Affects on a Womans Perception of Self and Body
How often do you think about your appearance? How do I look today? How
much do I weigh? Does this outfit look okay? I know I ask myself these questions.
And I have been asking myself these questions for years. I was never skinny. Back in
middle school and the beginning of high school, I was teased about my weight.
People called me mean names, they were nice to my face but made fun of me behind
my back. I didnt wear fancy name brand clothes or wear make-up. But there was
always this pressure to be skinny and wear name brands like Abercrombie and
Hollister. Beautiful clothes on beautiful women. I wanted to be like them. I wanted
to look like them. But why couldnt I accept myself for how I already looked? Its
implanted in our brains as if its the only way, super attractive people in supper
attractive apparel. The idea of beauty today is dominated by industry; it influences
young girls, through advertisements, that they need to change themselves in order
for them to feel good enough and to meet todays standards of being thin and
A childs mind is malleable. When a kid sees a large advertisement with
attractive people, it can lead them to believe that that is how they are supposed to
look. The worst part is they dont even know its happening. You can be watching TV
and see an advert on make up, where they take two extremes of a person. One
beautiful, edited with makeup, and one ugly, edited with out makeup, and show
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the difference. They tell you that you need this product, and your life will be great
when you do have it. Advertisers are all just trying to persuade you to buy into their
product, and make you feel like a lesser person for not owning it. It sets a standard
to not feel good about how you look.
The average person sees about 5000 advertisements a day
. Whether it be
when youre driving, on the computer or going for a walk, advertisements are
everywhere. Advertisements with beautiful bodies make up, hair etc. only just
degrade the image women and even men have on themselves. Whats so evil about
this is, advertisers work with child development experts to make the best of their
advertisement according to the developmental stage of the targeted audience.
just shows that advertisement industry, like the fashion industry, specifically target
a certain age group or person into buying their products.
Young girls I have to look good for people I need to look good for people. If
I dont look good for people, Ill be really upset and itll, like, ruin my day.
girls see tall, skinny, make-up covered women on TV, in magazines, on billboards,
etc. and get this impression that they need to be like them, to look like them.
Clothes look better on thin people. The fabric hangs better.
Runway models are

Story, Louise. "Anywhere the Eye Can See, It's Now Likely to See an Ad." The New
York Times.
&_r=0 (accessed May 8, 2014).
McLaughlin, Geralyn Bywater. "Six, Going on Sixteen: Fighting "age compression" and
the commercialism of childhood." Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, 2011, 36-44.
Barak, Goodman, & Rachel, Dretzin. "Merchants of Cool." PBS 02 27 2001. Web,
Nanci, Hellmich. "Do thin models warp girls' body image?." USATODAY, , sec. Heath
and Behavior, 09 25, 2006.
thin-models_x.htm (accessed April 05, 2014).
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young, are almost six foot and wear a size two. Putting out a standard for women
like this sets no good example. Psychologists and eating-disorder experts say that
the fashion industry has gone too far; the industry has too big an emphasis on
extremely thin women. But then, Kelly Crutone, owner of Peoples Revolution says If
people decide thin is out, the fashion industry wont have thin models anymore. We
need to promote the fact that everybodys body is beautiful whether they be short
and chubby, tall and lean and every other size in between, not just the tall, skinny
The problem is, women have always had this standard of being beautiful. But,
When does it become destructive? It becomes too much when its the only thing
they can see. It becomes too much when young girls, girls in second or third grade
say things like I need to lose weight. or Im way too fat. Third grade teacher, Kate
Lyman wondered why girls so young were having such body image issues. She
decided to do a lesson and investigate why such young children had body image
issues. She used asked her class what they noticed about a Barbie doll. Many
students noted aspects about her lean body, tiny feet, cute nose and large chest. The
young students concluded girls want to look like her [Barbie] so that men would
like them better.
Why? Why is it that young girls feel they need to look like Barbie
to get a man?
Biologically, we are set up to choose the best partner for mating. Industry has
over materialized our brains into thinking we need to look a certain way to get the

Kate, Lyman, and. "Girls, Worms, and Body Image: A teacher deals with gender
stereotypes among her second and third graders." Rethinking Popular Culture and Media,
2011, 138-146.
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man/woman. You can even see it in TV. TV shows praise skinny people. Often times
set a larger person as a person who gets ridiculed
. Men too feel like they need to be
Barbies Ken. Men see women gawk over highly attractive men in shows and ads. It
can strike a match in their brain to make them think that they arent as attractive as,
say, that one guy, from that one show. Although men and boys are not as affected by
this as women, there is still a feeling of inferiority
. Which can even eventually
posses them to try to change the way they look just to fit societys norms of being
muscular and tall etc.. Boys and girls both receive pressure from places including
their own parents
. This instilled pressure shows that the how you look starts young
and stays. Mothers and even fathers, who are overly fixated with beauty, telling
their children they arent good can be costly. It causes the child to feel like they are
never going to measure up
. Which can cause these negative views to be instilled
into the childs mind eventually causing them to plant them in their childrens
mind; keeping the vicious cycle of feeling inferior.
Why do we keep letting body image run our society? If people decide thin is
out, the fashion industry wont have thin models out
. If this is so, why are models
still so thin? If we really wanted thicker models, why dont we have more of them?
Why do these young girls look up to them with so much respect? It has to be because

Dafna Lemish, The Routledge International Hanbook of Children, Adolescents and
Media (2013), 225.
Marita P., McCabe, Ricciardelli Lina A., and Ridge Damien. Springer, "Springer Link."
Accessed April 12, 2014.
Kimmel Dr. Tim, "Parental Pressure: The Success Illusion,"imom (blog),
Nanci, Hellmich. "Do thin models warp girls' body image?." USATODAY, , sec. Heath
and Behavior, 09 25, 2006.
thin-models_x.htm (accessed April 05, 2014).

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of the way companies try to sell teens what they want. They take children teens and
ask them what they think is in, and pay them for it. These companies even send
people out to find these trendsetters. Why cant we promote more of the fact that
everyone is perfect and we all have different genes that make us look the way we
The idea of beauty in our culture today is dominated by industry. Media
influences those, who feel they are not good looking, to buy products or change the
way they look. Industry takes advantage those who feel inferior and can
subconsciously persuade them to fixate on their body image. The problem is that the
beauty industry is one of the largest money making industries out there. Promoting
skinny, beautiful, airbrushed women shows these young girls that they need to be
this way too. But in reality, they should be proud of who they are and what they look
like. Finding a way to promote such a thing and have it be successful could positively
affect the mental and physical states of all women.