Feminism | Posted by Marissa K on 08/13/2011

Saturday Vids: Magazines, Media and Myself

I used to have a little tradition of buying a cheesy teen magazine during the first week of summer and lying on the beach reading about the perfect nail polish color, or how to make your skin appear flawless. The primary reason I enjoyed this was because I knew it was pure junk, and that most of it could not be accurate. Yet I recently began to look into how inaccurate these magazines are in portraying how teenage girls are and should be, while also considering the effects on the self-esteem of many readers. Because even I, who laughed at most of the spreads on the glossy pages, felt my happiness with my body disintegrate a bit each time I picked up one of those magazines.

A few weeks ago I attended the Young Women’s Leadership Institute at Barnard College, and I decided that I should focus on body image and the media’s effects on the minds and bodies of young girls. I learned so much from all the girls I talked to at the program, from the classes and workshops I participated in, and from all the research I conducted on the subject. There is just so much to say about the issue of magazines and media and their effects on teenage girls’ perception of themselves. One portion of my group’s project included a video in which we interviewed many girls participating in the Young Women’s Leadership Institute. I hope you watch this video and spread the message!

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  • Liz @ at 7:30 pm, August 14th, 2011

    Great video! I’m glad you got to go to the Leadership Institute and meet so many well-spoken, intelligent, young women. Continue to make videos like this in your own community!

  • Renee @ at 8:28 pm, August 14th, 2011

    Can I just rant for a second

    Why have we even given the media so much power?! Does the media even have this power!? And why are we treating the media like it’s this big bad evil entity that exist all on its own? B/c let me tell you something it doesn’t the media is a REFLECTION of the society it is in! But most don’t veiw it that way they veiw it like it a judgemental parent saying what we SHOULD/WILL do or be and that’s not the case! We treat the media like it’s words/action is law and it’s NOT! Also did we grow up in a vacuum of some sort where the only female form we saw was some celebulite on the cover of a magazine? I find it hard to believe that that was the case. IDK maybe I just don’t understand based on the fact that I’ve never had body issues but I just refuse to believe that my generation is so easily swayed. (but maybe that’s just the fighter in me)
    /rant over

    PS I realize that that was a jumbled mess of sorts but then again that was a rant. Also, I’d like to say that this was an attack on the girls just something that I had to get off my chest.

  • Renee @ at 8:30 pm, August 14th, 2011

    *oops I meant it was not an attack

  • Cara @ at 3:23 am, August 15th, 2011

    You were incredibly lucky to have the chance to attend this program. I hope to attend once I reach the suitable age; all of the women in the video seem quite intelligent and composed, but also very natural, as though they’d be easy to talk to.

    @Renee- You do have a point: Media IS a reflection of society, but media also influences society. It’s something like a loop. Yes, society itself is full of problems, but the media only amplifies this by reinforcing the views we have, in this case on bodies. In turn, society is affected, the media reflects, society is affected, and so on. By changing media, we can end the loop, or at least slow it down.
    As for how much influence the media has: Again, you have a point: not everyone is so easily swayed, as is demonstrated by the girls in the video. One in particular, I remember, put it nicely, saying something about the girls who are aware of what’s going on vs those who aren’t. I, for example, used to be quite insecure with my own body at times. I was constantly told that I was thin for my age, but it seemed to me that the majority of girls I talked to- the “popular” ones in particular- were model-standard-skinny. As I watched TV, read magazines, etc, I generally saw nothing but this model-thinness being supported. I began eating less and less. I was never anorexic, but I wouldn’t eat any more than half a sandwich for lunch and I’d throw the rest of my meal away when my friends weren’t looking. They all thought that I was just an incredibly fast eater. Sure, I wore a size 0, but I despaired because just months before, my 00s were fallin down. I’m not proud of what I did, and I have since realized my mistakes, but I at least recognize what some girls are going through, to some extent at least. It wasn’t entirely the media that influenced me, but sometimes, when I began to feel good about myself again, I’d look to the tv and see people I knew I could never compare to. It HURT. I broke down crying in public on more than one occasion, an I hardly ever cry. I wasn’t sure why I cared so much; after all, I had no interest in boys or dating. I wanted to be skinny, though.
    I have multiple friends suffering right now because they think they are fat, and it hurts me to watch them, because I know what it’s like and that it doesn’t really matter in the end. Those often portrayed as shallow aren’t the only ones who want go be thin. These are all good people, who are smart and kind and loyal and beautiful. The media an hurt

    This has turned into a bit of a whiney rant. Sorry bout that. :) I needed to get that off my chest

  • Alexa @ at 7:04 pm, August 16th, 2011

    Great video, Marissa! I love that song, too.

    Cara- don’t worry about ranting; what you had to say was important :)

  • Renee @ at 1:03 pm, August 17th, 2011

    @Cara Don’t ever feel sorry for telling ur life story.
    Also I realize that media and society kind of feed off each other I guess my whole rant was basically the equivalent of going “What HAS THE WORLD COME TOOOOOO!” I was just incredibly frustrated. I also don’t believe it’s the media that can be changed or to put it differently I don’t think that by changing the media that things will automatically get better. Take the dove “Real Beauty” campaign despite the fact that they asked for real women their casting call read something like “no scars” “not to curvy not too athletic” “no tattoos” “flawless skin”. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think that by just getting the media to change their astetic taste would change anything b/c they will always have a standard that’s not real and would make someone feel less I believe the only way to stop the media is by changing society and it’s narrow concept of beauty.

    Ps: I think you made really great points…and if it seems like I’m intense it’s just that i LOVE discussing the media and social constructs like beauty!

  • Renee @ at 1:13 pm, August 17th, 2011

    *Or by just not giving a fuck. But that’s always easier said than done.

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