COLUMN: Media distorts depictions of many females

Nedda Pourahmady

A 16-year-old girl glares at herself for hours in a mirror, wishing that she could somehow be just a few pounds lighter. A 5-year-old girl watches the Saturday morning cartoon line-up, only to be bombarded by infomercials that emphasize beauty and outer appearance. An adult woman skims through fashion magazines and envies the rail-thin, flawless models flaunting themselves on the magazine covers.

What do all these females have in common? All three have fallen into the deceiving trap set by the media. This trap grabs on to vulnerable females and brainwashes them into believing they aren’t this “ideal” image of what a female should be.

According to, the average woman sees 400 to 600 ads per day, and by the time she reaches the age of 17 she has seen over 250,000 commercial messages from the media.

With all these messages regarding body image being sent out to females, it’s no wonder most women are unhappy with the way they look. For example, magazines play a large role in affecting a woman’s perceptions of her body. As stated on Mediascope, a sample study composed of Stanford undergraduate and graduate females showed 68 percent felt worse about their appearance after looking through various women’s magazines. Additionally, according to Mediascope, a study showed 69 percent of girls said magazine models influence their ideas of a perfect body shape.

Television also plays a major role in distorting depictions of females. The majority of programs on television display women with unattainable body images. According to Mediascope, studies have shown 56 percent of television commercials aimed at female viewers used beauty as the appeal to their product. By watching all these programs and advertisements on television, females will start to feel as if they have to live up to these unrealistic body image standards. Moreover, women will begin to feel unattractive compared to these women presented by the media. As a result, their self-esteem may drop significantly.

In response to the distorted, unrealistic images of females presented through the media, many young girls and women will turn to dieting. Mediascope states 80 percent of 10-year-old girls have dieted, and at any one time, 50 percent of American women are on diets. Many times, women will feel the need to go overboard on dieting and eat very little. This is dangerous not only because they aren’t getting enough nutrition, but because this can sometimes lead to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

As a result of these misleading portrayals of women in the media, many women who are healthy and nowhere near overweight have false notions in their minds that they desperately need to do something about their body image. According to Mediascope, 75 percent of normal-weight women think they’re overweight, and 90 percent of women overestimate their body size.

Striving to have the perfect body will damage a female’s emotions and thought processes and hurt her overall self-esteem. I think if the media put its focus more toward presenting women of all shapes and sizes on television and in magazines, the entire female population would feel at ease and learn to be content the way they are.

Nedda Pourahmady is a junior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].