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Women vs. Media: The Undeclared War by: Molly & Emily

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (9:24 PM)

Sociocultural standards of feminine beauty are displayed in almost all forms of popular media. These images pervade society, females specifically, with images that portray what is considered to be the ideal body.  Such standards set by media outlets illustrate… Read more

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Sociocultural standards of feminine beauty are displayed in almost all forms of popular media. These images pervade society, females specifically, with images that portray what is considered to be the ideal body.  Such standards set by media outlets illustrate beauty as almost completely unattainable for the average woman. A majority of the models displayed on television and in advertisements are well below what is considered healthy body weight. Further, these models are often airbrushed, or altered using photoshop and other advanced technology that allow these media outlets to manipulate the reality of the image. Mass media’s use of such unrealistic models, combined with this technology, sends an underlying message to society that in order for a woman to be considered attractive, she must ultimately be unhealthy.

The idea that a person can never be too thin, too rich, or too young further perpetuates an unrealistic standard of beauty. With this being said, this mentality has contributed to a decline in the females’ satisfaction with body image and possibly lower self esteem. We also propose that the boom in social media platforms is directly correlated to a rise in eating disorders in women. Information, “support groups” and blog sites encourage eating disorders and have created a cyber atmosphere in which girls suffering from eating disorders can relate with one another, therefore normalizing living an unhealthy lifestyle. Check it out:

http://www.myproana.com

http://missanamia.wordpress.com/tips-pro-mia/

(You have to click on different discussion boards in order to see what people are commenting)

There’s evidence below…. actually read them ALL!

We plan to further examine the effect of social media on women through the lenses of the following theories: social comparison theory, cultivation, and sexual objectification theory. Researchers Tiggerman and Slater suggest, “the process of social comparison may provide the mechanism by which exposure to media images induces negative effects.” They theorize that social comparison theory examines how individuals are constantly evaluating themselves in comparison to others on many different dimensions. This comparison results in the judgment of either an upward comparison, which is when an individual compares himself/herself to someone who fares better than they do in a particular area (causing them to feel worse), or a downward comparison, comparing himself/herself to someone worse off in a situation, which results in the opposite (feeling better about yourself). Television, advertisements, social media forums, magazines and other media resources provide excessive ways for women to experience upward comparison. 

In the International Journal of Eating Disorders conducted a study in which 84 women were divided into two groups. One group was instructed to use Facebook as they normally would for a twenty minute time period. The other group was told to research the ocelot (a rainforest cat using Wikipedia and YouTube). Unsurprisingly, the women who spent twenty minutes on Facebook reported greater body dissatisfaction than those who looked at cute cat pictures. This evidence further supports our hypothesis that social media negatively affects body image in women.

George Gerbner, a founder of Cultivation Theory, defines cultivation as “the independent contributions television viewing makes to viewer conceptions of social reality.” Gerber posits that media’s impact builds over time through frequent and repetitive exposure. Simply put, television viewers and media consumers are more likely to perceive the real world in accordance with what is expressed through mass media. For example, as females consistently view images of tall, thin women shown through various forms of media, there is a cumulative effect that many women will believe this unrealistic standard of beauty to be “REALITY.” This in effect causes thinner females to be perceived as “normal” and women not fitting that category as “abnormal.”

In phase 2, we will look more into depth of the above theories, as well as considering sexual objectification theory. We also hope to find statistical evidence of Facebook’s (along with other forms of social media) effects on eating disorders/happiness/self-esteem specifically. We will also make note of the increased prevalence of pinterest and tumblr boards specifically focusing on dieting/exercising and other posts relating to body image. For example, we will be following “Thinspiration’s” posts that are to “thinspire” people with eating disorders. Additionally, we will address the role of media’s tendency to objectify women through commercials and other advertisements. We are excited to look at how the ideal body image has changed over time and how media markets those changes (Barbie, mannequins, desirable facial features, airbrush, etc.). The documentary, Miss Representation will also be referenced to further support how women are perceived and depicted through mass media conglomerates. We will also include a plethora of statistics that will knock your socks (or the pounds) off! We hope to conclude our project by offering ways to cope with unrealistic standards as seen in the Digital Age as well as with the expectations reinforced through mass media.

This is a link to our tumblr where we have archived posts from our research (anorexia blogs, pinterest boards, and various advertisements objectifying women)

**Please take the survey below before class!**

Cyberspace and Self-Image


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Technology and New Mass Media

// Posted by on 01/14/2012 (6:10 PM)

While browsing the Wired archives, I stumbled onto an article by Michael Crichton adaptedfrom a speechhe gave to the National Press Club in April of 1993. The headline of the article was “Mediasaurus,” and opened by… Read more

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While browsing the Wired archives, I stumbled onto an article by Michael Crichton adaptedfrom a speechhe gave to the National Press Club in April of 1993. The headline of the article was “Mediasaurus,” and opened by comparing the American media to a dinosaur in the sense that, like the dinosaurs, the American media as understood in 1993 was headed towards extinction. Importantly, Crichton states that the change necessary for the American media to survive this extinction is technology; from the printing press to the telegraph, and now to the internet, media have always been driven by technology. Furthermore, Crichton argues that technology changed the very concept of information to our society. Without stating it directly, Crichton has begun to describe new media, the immediate access to information via technology. Although Crichton believes that this rise of new and mass media will be the catalyst required for print media to change, how could he have known that almost two decades later, the new media he was waiting for wouldn’t manifest as print media evolved, but rather within the technology itself?

While Michael Crichton thought that print media would always retain its monopoly on information, Rupert Murdoch, an important, although recently controversial, member of the media elite, is embracing technology. In a 2004 interview, Murdoch stated “To find something comparable, you have to go back 500 years to the printing press, the birth of mass media – which, incidentally, is what really destroyed the old world of kings and aristocracies. Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control…. the internet is media’s golden age.” To continue with the dinosaur theme, the author of the article in which this interview is featured coincidentally writes that these days, “midtown Manhattan’s valley of old media dinosaurs is besieged by a Cambrian explosion of digitally empowered life-forms: podcasters, bloggers, burners, P2P buccaneers, mashup artists, phonecam paparazzi. Viewers are vanishing, shareholders are in revolt, advertisers are Googling for the exit.”

Although my grandparents still complain that technology is ruining society and reminisce about the newspaper, I find it ironic that they don’t go anywhere without their cell phones, kindles, and laptops (for Christmas, they just bought my 3-and-4-year-old cousins each a kindle fire… I still don’t even have one). Despite their nostalgia for print media, neither one of my grandparents can argue with the fact that the immediate and constant availability of information is something to be appreciated. To use an example of new mass media to illustrate the importance of the internet to information:

Sony Rep Eats His Words… with Cheese

First off, I’m not ashamed to admit that for most of 2010 and 2011, “The Philip DeFranco Show” on youtube was how I kept up with current events. Second, I agree with his interpretation of how important the internet is for information when he says that the internet is important for two important reasons, the serious one being “information accessible from everywhere.”

That video is an example of people taking control to show that the internet really is media’s golden age. This time last year, with the success of the iPad, I read a blog post titled “The New Mass Media is the iPad,” and thanks to the internet, specifically stumbleupon.com, I was able to quickly find this blog again. Back then, I didn’t really understand the importance of the term “new mass media,” or why the iPad was important for the mass media movement. So that point I want to make is that, although it’s kind of sad that newspapers and other forms of print media are in decline, I think that the pros of new and mass media more than make up for it due to the ease at which people can now get access to information, and information really is power (as evidenced by… history). This, however, is just my opinion, and since I am definitely biased due to my heavy reliance on the internet for everything I do (thanks Google), I’m interested to see what other people think.

 


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