Interview – Body Image in the Media

My group and I created a series of questions based on our research topic, ‘body image within the media’ and proposed these questions to several friends. I interviewed my friend Natalie Carroll, a UOW college student currently studying Chemistry. Natalie highlights her struggles with confidence both mentally and physically influenced by the medias obsession with female perfection. The questions cover a range of aspects and often asks for Natalie’s personal experiences and opinions in relation to body image and changing this ideal.

Can you describe a time the media has made you feel self-conscious?

The media has most definitely made me feel self-conscious, after seeing what they described is the ideal woman or what standards you’re meant to live up to, when I haven’t been able to achieve it, I’ve ended up feeling depressed and self conscious.

Did you feel inclined to change yourself? In what way?

After feeling that way I did feel the need to change who I am. One way In which I tried was losing weight which I’m still currently in the process of. It definitely is a positive lifestyle change that I don’t regret and has made me a happier and healthier being but the fact that the media makes you feel like your self worth is decreased because of whatever it is, in my case being overweight, it can destroy all of your confidence.

If you could change the way women are portrayed in the media, how would you?

I think women are more portrayed in the media as needing to be extremely feminine, any interests that are considered ‘masculine’ are generally disregarded and women’s looks are more important than knowledge. I would try to change it by representing women as individuals and beings, not trying to force and categorise them into gender stereotypes.

Do you think men are also objectified in the media? how?

Men are absolutely if not equally objectified in the media as compared to women. Just like women, they are represented in a certain way with particular standards and try to tell men around the world that you are a lesser being if you don’t have the same qualities as what is shown in the media.

Was there an image, advertisement or other form of media that stuck with you because the portrayal or the female or male was completely unrealistic? can you describe it and the effect it had on you?

I think a lot of clothing advertisements that show skinny and unhealthy models stand out as an example of unrealistic media advertisements. It made me feel bad about not only about my own body size but also for all of the women out there struggling with self confidence, and those in particular who have developed eating disorders attempting to become what a lot of the media says is the correct size.

Why do you think the media is so obsessed with perfection, especially promoting a certain perfection, for example, skinny and tanned, why do believe that particular image has been labelled ‘perfection’?

I think a main reason the media is obsessed with perfection, is due to the marketing scheme that encourages people to buy and use products and services that are supposed to improve individuals both physically and mentally to societies standard. The media promotes certain images of perfection as it tries to control what is considered attractive, ultimately assisting businesses by forcing people to buy these products and services to attain the medias usually unrealistic beauty and perfection standard.

It is clear I received a thorough response to the questions I asked enabling my group to take this research and apply it to and tweak our current survey and focus group questions, but overall we feel confident that our research topic will achieve the responses we desire, reinforced by Natalie’s response.

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