Media and Society

Media and Society

Magazines exhibiting the latest models, television ads telling you what products to buy to make yourself look better, young girls making actresses their role models. Media plays a central role in depicting how one should look to conform to society. These portrayed images are often unattainable in real life. Yet, young girls strive to look like these models that are actually being photo shopped on the cover of these magazines. It is incredible what lengths people will go to in order to obtain this inaccessible goal.


            The South Carolina Department of Mental Health estimates that seven million women have an eating disorder. One in 200 women suffer from anorexia, and two to three out of 100 women suffer from bulimia. These eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. Even more astounding are the statistics for adolescents. 95% of those with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Half of girls between 11 and 13 years old consider themselves overweight. 80% of 13 year olds have tried to lose weight.*


However, what is further overlooked is the effect of media on boys and men. Approximately one million men suffer from an eating disorder. An estimated 10-15% of people suffering from anorexia or bulimia are males.*


            Just like young girls, boys are susceptible to the idea of the “perfect” man portrayed through the media. They strive to have the fit body of Channing Tatum or the muscles of John Cena, though these figures only represent about 1% of the entire American population.


For many years, commercials were aimed at women. Telling them what lotions to use or what hair color products, with companies L’Oreal coining the phrase “because you’re worth it” to entice the audience to buy products that will make them look better in the eyes of society. However, there has been a recent wave of new commercials. This time the intended audience is men. Now, there are products for coloring men’s hair. Also, commercials such as for Axe show a male how using their product will make them so attractive they will have to fight to keep girls away.

It seems to be a crucial point to re-examine the immediate effects media has on society. However, some critical points have to be considered: what came first, media portrayals of people or societal views of people? Should the blame fall on the media or on the parents?

The first of these questions is very hard to decipher. It is much like the common question, which came first the chicken or the egg?  Does the media determine societal views or is it societal views that determine what is shown in the media? Also, is it fair the lay the blame solely on the media? Shouldn’t parents be actively teaching their children the difference between ideologies and reality? This way, children will realize that there is no such thing as “perfect” and that everyone is an individual who should not have to conform to society. Whatever the case, a change of societal ideals of what one should look like needs to occur in order to protect America’s youth.

*All statistics found at

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18 Responses to Media and Society

  1. I don’t think we can protect anymore, wether its adults or children, man or woman. The media is too much a part of our daily lives – our routine. Whats dangerous is having an individual who isn’t informed. Just like scary movies, once you know they’re fake it changes your view on them and its not as scary. Some people really have to be told that, I know I did as a kid. I think the same applies to the media. We need to inform everyone, especially men with the change in marketing so they know that what they see on TV and thru social media isn’t real-life. Being able to look at our immediate surroundings, our tangible surroundings, and recognize that it is whats real and not what is depicted thru media would help combat the problem and would allow people to not strive to be what they see on TV.

    • andrewparkeriii says:

      Very good points. However, when you watch a movie isn’t the point of the actors to be as realistic as possible? That way people can relate to them. And we all know we criticize bad actors all the time. So, whether people are told that these movies are not real, it is still really hard to remember that during the movie. Do you think parents should sit down with their children and explain the deviations from reality after the movies and shows they watch?

  2. kfock001 says:

    I agree with PetePappasODU, these days with younger and younger kids aquiring i-pads and cell phones it is getting harder to stay away from the media. Facebook even plays a huge role in feeding both genders what they r supposed to look like according to society. Parents can help to prevent some of this behaviour in their children by telling them it not real when they are young.

    • andrewparkeriii says:

      Do you think that parents should start to take away electronic at younger ages? I mean looking around now there are three year olds with Ipads and other electronics.

  3. dbuhr002 says:

    We need to teach our children to be happy with who they are the way they are. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle by example is a great way to reinforce this.

    • andrewparkeriii says:

      I completely agree. However, that is not always feasible. Many families have both parents working to provide so can they still lead this healthy lifestyle while they are preoccupied?

  4. ccrew05 says:

    I believe the media is the big reason we have this problem, but parents also need to do their part in educating their kids. Everyone seems to be attached to the media in someway or another at all times so its not hard to believe that what they are seeing is what is actually true / real. I also think parents and friends should be educated on the signs of when someone has an eating disorder.

    • andrewparkeriii says:

      I agree, however people with eating disorders are usually very good at hiding them. Such as bulimics. Who would suspect someone of throwing up their meals? Also, do you think parents should limit media use for children until they gain morals and values?

  5. teterpanda says:

    Media plays a large part in every part of a persons life not just this. Interest rates are down go buy a house or a car or something that can be sold. Media is the first thing people look to when they want to do something. People look at reviews for movies, cars, new tech in the market, or even clothes to see if they want to buy it or not. I think people should take life back into their own hands and do things they want because they have no idea what it is like and not because some show said to try it.

    • andrewparkeriii says:

      This is a very good and interesting point. Media does not just affect views about people, but about life in general. That is advertisement though. Companies want you to buy their products so they televise them and make them look great so that people buy into it.

  6. jhump017 says:

    I agree with PetePappasODU also, our society has really drilled into young girls minds that in order to be pretty, you have to be a size zero. As someone who has lost 30 pounds, i just felt like could have been in better shape and really needed to start eating healthier. I have come to embrace my curves!!!!! Hopefully, all the girls in the world will learn to also eventually!

    • andrewparkeriii says:

      Yes, that is true. With airbrushed girls on magazines, people get the wrong impression about what one has to look like in order to be pretty. I think that women should feel beautiful no matter what size they wear because beauty isn’t just physical.

  7. JP3 says:

    I could not agree more with PetePappasODU. The influential power the media has upon our society today has reached an ultimate extreme. It makes it worse that children are seen as the most susceptible targets, due to inexperience and lack of understanding. We rely heavily on networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social applications to give us the newest news feeds and details. As much of an impact that these media systems have on society, one should not forget who also has the power to control the frequency of usage for children – their parents. Parents need to become more knowledgable about how these networks can be harmful and deceitful in gaining the attention of a younger generation and unaware individuals.

    • andrewparkeriii says:

      I agree completely. Though media is portraying these “perfect” images, I believe it is up to the parents to talk to their children and help them understand the difference between media and reality.

  8. I think that it is really sad the way that the media portrays how we as a society should look. It pushes people to do things that they wouldnt normally do, and it pushes them to do things that are detrimental to their own health. To me thats ridiculous, on both ends one that the media is trying to portray that image and on the other had that someone would go to such lengths to even hurt themselves to look like that image. I feel that everything is awesome and fantastic in their own way and that not everything can be based on the way one looks.

    • andrewparkeriii says:

      Yes, it is sad that people go to such great lengths just to achieve something that is nearly impossible to obtain anyway. I wonder how people can let media rule their lives so greatly.

  9. ainge002 says:

    I think that this is a great topic! I agree that men have their own self image issues and it is crazy to think they don’t! While society and the media tell girls how to appear, men are also told. Men are are supposed to be hyper-masculine and hyper-sexual. What about the boys who are skinny, un-muscular, have interests that are not masculine, etc. While women are expected to starve themselves and behave a certain way men are expected to have huge muscles and behave a certain way. Men and women both have their own self image issues, they are only different. Both are posed to fit into neat little boxes. Both are likely to never attain this.

  10. Chris says:

    The photo of someone (actually me) holding a sign about Barbie vs. Ken is mine and was used without my consent or credit. Please remove it or I will need to report you to WordPress for copyright infringement.

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