Natasha Ramchandani

Media: Media & Image


Es sa y outlin e
Introduction • • • Media in today’s society The effects of the media Thesis statement

First paragraph • • How the media causes eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa

Second paragraph • • Slimming products How advertisements manipulate customers


Third Paragraph • • Plastic Surgery Talk shows

Fourth Paragraph • • Doing Plastic Surgery - look more like their idols Television Program – MTV I want a famous face

Fifth Paragraph • • • Why shows display the whole process of plastic surgery ? Personal Testimony Television Program – Extreme Makeover

Conclusion • Summarize the whole essay The media is becoming a very significant aspect of today’s society. Everyday, we interact with, some form or another, of media through the television, magazines, movies and newspapers. Due to this constant exposure, the images portrayed by the media would thus influence people’s concept of beauty, the definition of attractiveness and lifestyle. Celebrities are often looked upon by people as superior beings, their role models and thus more women spend much of their time and money in attempts to mirror their idols. People need to realize that celebrities are nothing but mere mortals. Teenagers and adults even go to the extent of putting their health at stake by starving themselves and taking pills just to achieve the ‘ideal’ look. They are also willing to go under the knife to achieve the look of those scrawny celebrities. While the appearance of such lean looking models in the media may send a dangerous message about eating disorders; fashion magazines, celebrities and public figures also play a key role in influencing irregular eating patterns 3

of young women. The drawing force which brings many women to that idea of perfection and beauty undoubtedly has its links to the exposure of the mass media and its evident influence on us. The media, by glorifying the culture of thinness, is causing an epidemic of eating distress, especially among young women. This is because of the damaging paradox of modern society in which the media promotes, in a compelling manner, a low- weight sculptured ideal body. In recent years, the two most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. They can occur separately or simultaneously in the same individual. Less than 10% of people suffering from eating disorders are boys and men (Jade). In the media, happy and successful people are more or less constantly portrayed by actors and models that are young, toned, and thin (What causes). Since, celebrities are looked upon symbols of beauty and perfection. They influence the perspectives and perceptions of beauty heavily. Through the media, they induce body dissatisfaction which in turn develops a drive for thinness and ‘perfectionism’ (DeGroat) .The media perpetuates the feeling in people who do not have the ideal shape that their life would be fine if they were slim. Easily carried away by the media, they resort to starving themselves and going through various proven ‘techniques’ and ‘methods’ in order to achieve their ideology of bodily perfection. Another way they try to achieve “the look” is by using slimming products. Although striving to achieve that impression of perfection is not evidently broadcasted in the advertisements, the subtle message which psychologically creates a desire to attain it is very potent. By using psychology and the correct use of words, many of us have fallen for their manipulative plot, which behind the veil of a lean body, lies nothing more but


the lust for profits. Thus, with more and more women desiring to look as perfect as they can, these advertisers and companies have made use of this society’s weakness for their own self gain. Sadly, this has been a booming industry in recent years, and this not only implies the increasing physical self awareness, but the importance of being considered physically attractive for the larger society as well (What causes). Their advertisement basically brainwashes the readers and audience into believing their ideology of perfection and beauty and conforming to that idea. Recently the media had sparked off another way to achieve that “perfect” image. We now live in a society where plastic surgery is no longer frowned upon but encouraged through the media. The focus of beauty in the media drives many women into going under the knife in order to alter their own appearances to become ‘beautiful’. Interestingly, talk shows play a major role in this problem construction. Presently, over hundred shows have been telecasted discussing about teenage plastic surgery. The shows making up this list consist of Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Springer and numerous others. With such popular talk shows discussing on this issue, the number of people who are searching to attain ‘beauty’ is increasing. Although it does seem like a harmless issue of discussion, many individuals have been motivated to alter their looks just to fit into the perception of the ideal beauty. As television programs do not highlight the concerns of an increasingly materialistic and shallow society which bases their perceptions and decisions largely on physical appearances, many of us have been blinded by the media’s brainwashing of achieving the ‘ideal’ through plastic surgery, and looking at beauty from a narrow point of view.


Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with dressing up in the latest fashion styles, the growing obsession to look like their idols is getting way out of hand. This point has been distinctly seen through the countless television programs shown. And example is a program called, MTV I Want a Famous Face. It is about young people who have chosen to use plastic surgery to look like their celebrity idols. Whether it's a Britney Spears wannabe or a Brad Pitt hopeful, their goals are not just to look a little more ‘goodlooking’, but to look especially like their beloved stars as well (MTV I want). They go under the knife with procedures which include nose jobs, breast implants, liposuction, facial implants and many others just to look like their idols. This just proves how far people would go to try to be like the celebrities. Other programs which deal with this growing trend are television shows such as the Extreme Makeover and Nip/tuck. These shows are part of a disturbing new trend and are using the public's fascination with plastic surgery to get ratings for themselves. What exactly are the intentions of creating shows which display the whole process of plastic surgery? Are they just some new reality television shows which try to make a ‘quick buck’ out of this growing interest, or is there more to it? According to MTV, they just aim to show viewers what's involved; how tense the surgeries are, the risks involved, how difficult the recovery process is and the drawbacks of plastic surgery. It's not sanitized or glamorized in any way. Taking myself as a personal testimony, after viewing so many episodes with all the disturbing imagery of plastic surgery, I will never think of going under the knife to change myself. Similarly, in another hit television series, Extreme Makeover, it not only helps people who are feeling lousy about their appearance but also highlights the emotional and behavioral change in the individuals. Their side of


the coin is how plastic surgery does alter and boost an individual’s self esteem. By changing an ‘ugly duckling’ into a ‘beautiful swan’, a person whose confidence is affected can be lifted just by changing their looks. In a nutshell, the media’s influence on us is great. This can be seen through the changing lifestyle and habits in our society. Despite the fact that the media is seen as nothing more than a tyrannical creature which eats into our minds and brainwashes us, the large exposure to the media has its positive effects as well. As mentioned above, through the programs which feature the entire process and risks involved in going for plastic surgery, or the cases of numerous reports of an increasing number of death rates due to anorexia and other eating disorders, the reactions for most of us would be to turn away from such health hazards. However, as long as the media continues to portray its ideology of bodily perfection, many will still look towards that ‘ultimate perfection’ in order to seek the approval and claim of the larger majority as being ‘beautiful’. Unfortunately, with the mindset of our culture and society nowadays, not conforming to the social ‘norm’ is a task that is near to impossible. With the overwhelming pounding and drilling of the ultimate beauty perfection from the media into our lifestyle and perceptions, our society has sadly turned into a shallow one which seeks after fame, beauty and money. The media has subtly altered our confidence and self esteem, which is rightly based on character and abilities, to that which depends on our physical appearances. Our change has been seen through the ever-escalating statistics in health disorders and the growing trend of plastic surgery. The constant search to attain the ultimate perfection is undoubtedly linked to the media’s reflections and portrayals. With


the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, it is indeed time for us to begin pondering and questioning ourselves; who is the ultimate beholder.

Jade, Deanne. ‘EATING DISORDERS AND THE MEDIA’.2002. National Centre For Eating Disorders. 9 Nov. 2005 < >.

‘What causes eating disorders?’. Nov. 2005. ANRED. 9 Nov. 2005 <>.

DeGroat, Bernie. ‘Media influence eating disorders’. 22 Oct. 1997. 9 Nov. 2005 <>.

‘MTV I Want a Famous Face’. 2005. MTV. 9 Nov. 2005 <>.