The photoshop effect

Tue, 3 Dec 2013 Source: Kiara Gandhi

By Kiara Gandhi

Media: It is what rules todays’ society. It informs us about what is happening around the world in a matter of seconds. But although media makes life easier, it also has negative effects on society. Advertising in today’s media is putting pressure on teenagers to be ‘picture perfect’.

Teenage girls who struggle with body image and self-esteem are affected the most. Their struggles and insecurities with body image are brought out when they look at the perfect and flawless women in magazines, advertisements, commercials, posters and billboards.

Teenagers everywhere, will do anything and everything to become the model on the cover of the magazine. Last year in 2012, there were 130,502 plastic surgery procedures done for teenagers under the age of 18 in the USA (ASAPS). The reason for this incredible number of teenagers trying to change the way they look is because they are trying to attain the ‘perfect look’. We all wish we looked like the celebrities on the cover of magazines, with their perfect teeth and slim figures.

But what they don’t know is, what they are chasing to obtain, does not exist. A picture of the celebrity is taken and then it is sent to be photo shopped: the waist gets thinner, the neck gets longer, the blemishes disappear and the thighs get smaller in a matter of seconds. It is then put on the cover of a magazine where teenagers who put immense pressure on themselves to obtain this false appearance see it. The girls will do anything to become these models, even through starvation and purging, thus resulting in disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

In 1998, a researcher documented the response of adolescents in rural Fiji to the introduction of western television. This new media exposure resulted in significant preoccupations related to shape and weight, purging behavior to control weight, and negative body image. This landmark study illustrated a vulnerability to the images and values imported with media. Photoshop has tricked women into believing that there is a perfect image of beauty, but this is untrue and this image of beauty is unattainable.

So how can we solve this problem? It may seem impossible, but what we have to remember, is that we have the power. We control what we buy and whom we support. The fact is that we have let these influences blind us to what we as individuals consider, beauty. It is critical in our society, especially as our dependence on media and technology grows, to not believe everything we see.

We need to take a closer look at how many of our norms are actually shaped by the media, and what we can do to reshape the ideal image of beauty for future generations to come. Don’t fall into the trap media puts out. Don’t compare yourself to someone who doesn’t exist. “If tomorrow women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries will go out of business” –Dr. Gail Dines.

Columnist: Kiara Gandhi