A thirteen-year-old victim of body dysmorphic disorder, a fourteen-year-old anorexic, and a sixteen-year-old mother of
two. What do these people have in common? They are all victims of media’s influence. Each one of these people at one
time or another told their parents not to worry because media wouldn’t influence them like it did so many others. But,
whether in a positive way or a not-so-positive way, media does influence us, particularly our self-image. Media affects different
people in different ways.
Now thirteen, my cousin feels that her facial complexion isn’t good enough. It doesn’t meet the expectations
that media are obviously implying. "But I want skin like Hannah Montana," she says. As I try to explain to her that it’s
television, and that she has a complexion that even Hannah Montana would be jealous of, I realize that my cousin has become
a victim of media’s influence, this time in the form of body dysmorphic disorder. This newly diagnosed condition is
becoming more and more frequent. Body dysmorphic disorder is a "preoccupation with a certain body part" (Draelos). With my
cousin, she is preoccupied with her face, or rather her complexion. With a couple zits, she’s a basket case. This is
a normal process that every healthy body goes through. There is no cure for them, only ways to prevent them or to cover them
At fourteen, a friend of the family felt that she wasn’t skinny enough. "I want to be as thin as Kyra Sedwyk." The
Closer had become an idol to her since the day the first season had first premiered. I tried to show her that she was
just as thin than Kyra. "In 1973, popular models and beauty queens weighed only 8% less than the average woman. Currently,
they weigh 23% less, which is a size achievable by only 5% of the female population" (Media). Then I realized that this person
who I’d known my whole life fell into the trap of media’s influence, this time in the form of anorexia. My friend
stopped eating. "But refusing to eat is only a small part of the disorder. It is an oppressive illness that tears down the
victim psychologically and physically" (Renes). My friend changed.
At sixteen, my friend of two years became a mother of twins. When she started dating and talking to me about her relationships
I merely warned her not to stoop down to the level of what was shown on Sex and the City. But now, at sixteen, my friend
was giving birth to twins. She, too, became a victim of media’s influence. Her life was now a living drama. She was
cool though. Or at least according to the people in Sex and the City.
Media do influence us, whether or not we think they do. Whether or not we want to admit to it, media have a big impact
on our lives. "65% of children today have a television set in their bedroom, most of them with unlimited access to view unhealthy
influences. Because of this, many children grow up feeling that they must look like the models and celebrities that they see
on television" (Media). It’s no wonder our parents worry about the influence media will have on us. So, even though
we may tell them not to worry because media won’t influence us the way it does so many others, they’ll worry.
Because, as sure as our parents will worry about us, the media will influence us. In fact, "a People magazine found
that 80% of women felt that the images of women on television, in movies, and in advertisements and magazines made them feel
insecure about themselves" (Media).