Media’s Effects

Raising Awareness

There are many creative Photoshop awareness campaigns that help drive home the prevalence of altered images and the degree to which images are altered. A few of my favorite is the Photoshop Parody Beauty Ads, which highlights how much Photoshop changes an image in the advertisement style images.

Photoshop1

The above image points out the absurdity of basing out beauty ideal off of what we see in magazines, reminding us these images are far from real.

Another awareness piece that has caught massive amounts of attention is the video below.

The video shows start to finish just how much makeup, lighting and finally the computer can change a person. It’s another good reminder that everything we see is not real!

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The Real Effects

The scariest results of the digital alteration craze are the statistics surrounding eating disorders. Eating disorders are a serious illness, affecting 20 million women and 10 million men at some point in their lifetime, just in the United States. The National Eating Disorders Association, or NEDA recognizes the role media plays in the prevalence of eating disorders in the United States. The rate of development of new cases has been rising since 1950, and the instances of bulimia in 10-39 year old women has tripled between 1988 and 1993.

The most concerning statistics surround children. 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat and 46% of 9-11 year olds “sometimes” or “very often” diet. Related to the media, 69% of elementary school girls in the US who read magazines say “the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape” and 47% say the pictures make them want to loose weight.

Images such as the Ralph Lauren one below show just how skewed societies perceptions of normal are. In the eyes of some, even already skinny people aren’t thin enough. When will it be enough, especially when people are dying?

ralphlauren beforeNafter

 

Information provided by the NEDA at nationaleatingdisorders.org, image from Beauty Redefined.

Miss Representation

The inspiration for this project came from The Representation Project and the 2011 film MissRepresentation. The film takes a harsh look at the way women are represented in the media, challenging “the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls,” according to their website. Using the hashtags #NOTBUYINGIT and #MEDIAWELIKE the project aims to spread awareness of how women are represented in media, both by calling out negative portrayals and highlighting positive ones.

Though the movie is an excellent educational tool, the filmmakers spent the vast majority of their time discussing problems with the media, not solutions. While these problems can’t be addressed without any awareness of them, the movie offers very few ideas and resources for change. The last ten minutes of the film discusses opportunities for improvement, but ten minutes out of an hour and a half is a footnote not a chapter. Approached simply as an educational tool MissRepresentation is an excellent film, giving a deep, in-depth look at the the effects of the media, but the creators could have devoted more time discussing ways to move forward.