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Body, Self, And Society: Victims Of The Media

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The role and power of the mass media has often been a topic of debate among those whom have been blessed or cursed by its influence. Whether or not it can be supported that the media has positive or negative influence on society and culture, it can be clearly asserted that it does have a power to persuade the masses in one direction or the other. If not, there would be no place for advertising. Those who are too innocently naÐ"Їve of this matter should speak to a few of the young women in Fiji that have been impacted by the western world culture they were exposed to through American television.

A study performed in Fiji after the introduction of television to a province of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu showed not only an increase in eating disorders but also in depression among the Fijian young women exposed to this media." Ð''I'm very heavy,' one Fijian adolescent lamented during an interview with researchers led by Dr. Anne E. Becker, director of research at the Harvard Eating Disorders Center of Harvard Medical School, who investigated shifts in body image and eating practices in Fiji over a three-year period." (Goode 1) What makes matters worse is the change this has created to the way that a common Fijian young woman formerly felt about her body. Fiji generally follows suit with many other South Pacific Island countries. They consider a healthy robust body to be beautiful. It is customary to have guests for dinner and insist that they eat as much as they can. Fijians generally place priority on the community rather than on self. However that part of Fijian culture is now at risk because of the individualistic attitude created by the western media exposure.

This is not the first case it has been asserted that the influence of the media has played a significant role in the development of eating disorders among teens and young adults. There have been many studies performed in which the results are conclusive that the media creates an image and a set of expectations that many women, and even men, feel they have to live up to. A study examined the relationship between eating disordered behaviors and exposure to ideal-type media. This study claimed "Women obtained scores that indicated they were more Ð''at risk' for anorexia nervosa than men, especially women with higher levels of media exposure. Heavy use of the media led participants to attempt a number of strategies to change their appearance to resemble those in the mediaÐ'..." (Carney)

Another evidence of the tantalizing influence of the media is advertising. Advertising is how the entertainment industries are funded. For example millions of dollars are spent by companies for those few moments of airtime during the Superbowl. These are the moments when consumers are nearly entranced by the images flashing before them. People are compelled to want things they otherwise would not have likely considered. The ones who would argue against this point are likely those who get up in the middle of a movie confused by their sudden urge to get a Coke



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