Informing and engaging area residents


The Media’s Role In The Lives of Youth- My Experience

by Carissa Fortin

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]We live in a world filled with images. Images of many things. Our minds get clouded with ads from magazines and articles that show us society’s definition of beauty. These ads tell us how to be fit, how to be thinner and have the so – called “ Perfect Body ”. But what exactly does it mean to have the perfect body?

In the age of social media, we have apps like Snapchat and Instagram that allow us to filter and edit images to your heart’s content. But these images are false. Yes, it may be us in the pictures but we are not showing our true selves.

Especially in this century, I find that the media plays a crucial role in how people, in this case Teenagers, look at themselves. How often do you see ads in clothing stores with ads that are unrealistic? As a teenager myself, I tend to follow the trends. This can mean wearing popular clothing brands such as Vans, American Eagle and Forever 21.

As a kid, I always tended to go against the grain. Although, I wore clothes from popular brands, I didn’t tend to go for what everyone else was wearing. I’ve always liked clothes and wore what I wanted. This was because I never cared what anyway else thought. I didn’t fit in with the popular kids, because I stood out too much. It never mattered to me. As long as I had friends, that was good enough for me.

Once I got to highschool, I had the same mindset. As a grade 12 student now, I have noticed that my fellow classmates and peers have changed drastically in what they wear since grade 9 and that the trends have changed as well. No one wears the same thing but they have similar styles.

In the last 5 years, clothing and other related types of ads have gotten worse. These ads show unrealistic proportions of people. Most models fit in size zero to four. The average American women can range anywhere from size 8 to a size 14. In addition, photos of models in print ads are often “touched up” in order to disguise minor flaws or make the model appear even skinnier than she really is.  These ads rarely portray the average person. Because it’s on t.v. , people are drawn to the ad. It might seem that we could recognize when ads show us something not real; after all, when we see a dog food commercial featuring a talking dog, we aren’t fooled into thinking dogs can really speak, right?

Because of these ads, young girls and sometimes boys, become obsessed with parts of their body they dislike. This leads them to be susceptible to developing conditions ranging from depression to obsessive – compulsive disorder to eating disorders. But why are women so unhappy with their appearance? Some want smaller thighs, bigger breasts, or flatter stomachs. Women use celebrities and socialites as their role models. This trend must be stopped.

Online, teenagers can create a fake persona. This allows them to mask their true selves. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, in a survey of girls 9 and 10 years old, 40% have tried to lose weight. One study reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies.” This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.

The quote on the left from Demi Lovato speaks to me. The most vulnerable are those who want acceptance. These teens spend their time posting, and commenting on their friend’s photos while comparing themselves to photos.  And while there are parts of myself that I don’t like, I would never edit them out of a picture. I may not have the ideal body, but I’m perfect to myself. And that’s good enough for me. If there’s anything I’ve learned from social media, Photoshop and magazine ads, it’s this: Real beauty isn’t on the pages of a magazine. It’s not something you can edit or filter. Real beauty is how you feel about yourself, both inside and out. I may not be a size 2 but that is OK. It’s OK because I wouldn’t trade how I look for the world. I was born looking this way for a reason.



Part 2: A Survey Of Students

What if one day you woke up and you had everything you always wanted to have in terms of features?  In this day and age, we are always comparing ourselves to each other. We have so much media in front of our eyes. Whether it’s on the cover of a magazine, on our phones, or in a TV show, there are so many things that show us society’s view of the perfect features. TV shows like Glee and Riverdale show us that our idea of perfect is not the norm anymore. These beloved characters like Cheryl Blossom from Riverdale show us that the people we consider to be perfect aren’t necessarily the happy ones.

In a survey that I did of students at my school, I found the results to be somewhat surprising. I asked them 11 questions. All 54 responses were anonymous. There were 3 questions with results that really surprised me. All the questions had to do with how we see ourselves.

Who is more inaccurately portrayed in the media, males or females?
As you aged, have you become more or less self-conscious about your body?
How important to you is your appearance?

The results I got are not the results I thought I would get get. For the first question, I thought it would be half and half. For question 10, I thought the blue part of the graph would have been even bigger. And for the last question, I was surprised at how many said neutral.

This proves to me that the media needs to be more careful of the images that we as young people see. These images are damaging both to our physical and mental health. They can cause us to have self – esteem and body issues, especially young women. According to a study by the Government Of Canada in 2002,  1.5% of Canadian women aged 15–24 years had an eating disorder. That’s crazy. That is 1 person out of every 15 people. This disturbing trend is on the rise.

Take a moment and consider this. If that many young women had eating disorders in 2002 and it has been going up since then, what will it look like in 20 years? What will the next generation of teenagers be trying to compare themselves to? How far will we let this go before it affects people under 13? Just a thought. The issue must stop now. Before it’s too late. I’ll leave you with this quote by Confucius: Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

This is your new student writer, signing off! Over and Out! Stay posted for more!!