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Impacts of Mass Media on Women

The impact advertisements have on the self image of women and young girls. Statistics on dieting and feelings on body image. Genres of magazines and how the hinder the progress of women in society.

Fashion magazines and the advertisements found in them have an incredibly negative impact on women’s self-image. A large percentage of mass media advertising is geared toward beauty products, and an even larger percentage of women are dissatisfied with their bodies because of this.

Body Image

A self-image is the mental conception of the self. A positive self-image affects quality of life, and can be a determining factor of success both socially and professionally. The average American woman is 5′4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. In contrast, the average fashion model is 5′11” tall and weighs 117 pounds. Women are bombarded with images of these beautiful women on a consistent basis, and 70% of women feel more depressed after viewing images of models. It should come as no surprise then that 58% of 13 year old girls and 78% of 17 year old girls are unhappy with their appearance.

Diet Trends

With so many women dissatisfied with their physical appearance it’s only natural for a portion of them to take action to improve their looks. The dieting statistics of young girls and women in this country are startling.

Two out of every five females would trade five years of their life in exchange for meeting their goal weight. Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of war or of being diagnosed with cancer. One-third of females are on a diet at any given time, and the trend starts early with the average girl going on her first diet at the age of eight. It would be quite simple to alter advertisements to feature more realistic images of women, but someone stands to gain from all this unhappiness. The diet industry sees profits of approximately $40 billion annually.


If the diet industry stands to make a profit they must advertise their products to a broad and receptive audience. Teenage girls and young women are the perfect target, and fashion magazines are the perfect medium. Twenty-two percent of teenage girls read fashion publications. Magazines for men feature appearance-altering advertisements, but not at the rate of those for women. Women’s magazines feature ten times more weight loss articles than men’s.

Fitness articles have the potential to be positive if they focus on the health benefits of exercise, but 74% of fitness articles in magazines for women cite “becoming more attractive” as the main reason to exercise. One of every three articles in these publications has an emphasis on appearance, ¾ of all magazine covers feature an article on altering the physical appearance. In addition, 50% of magazine advertisements sell their products using an approach relating to beauty.

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