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The A-Blast

Media and its impact on our body image

Ruth Mekonnen, In-Depth Editor

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There are more than 318 million people in the United States. 318 million different faces, body types, cultures, personalities, and yet none of this is evident while watching movies, commercials or TV shows.

That’s So Raven, The Proud Family, Lizzie McGuire and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody are among the many TV shows I grew up with. Not only were these shows entertaining but they were diverse and they shed light on some issues that not many shows touch base on.

I distinctly remember an episode of That’s So Raven where Raven designed a dress and won a contest only to have her body photoshopped to a point where she couldn’t even recognize it because she just didn’t have the look. I also remember an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody when after receiving a comment from one person about London having a larger behind and Maddie having chicken legs, they begin an unhealthy strings of diet, like eating junk food and exercising to the point of exhaustion. In addition to that, all of these TV shows included a diverse cast ranging from different body types to different races.

Representation matters. It shows us that there isn’t just one way to live life, look or act. I know from personal experience. When I watch a character who looks like me and accomplishes great things, it motivates and makes me think that if she could do it, then so can I. According to NPR, only 7 percent of films had a cast whose diversity represented the country’s diversity.

TV is supposed to be a source of escape like a book. We turn to movies and shows to get our mind off of things. TV is a great way to stop worrying about your problems and just see life through a character. I definitely have moments where I cry when my favorite character is sad, or even have the feeling that someone close to me died when a character dies. Although it is hard to admit, TV really does impact our lives and seeing characters who look like us will only enhance the experience.

“I think some TV shows promote positivity but there isn’t a lot of focus on it. There should be more TV shows that focus on portraying a range of body types and represent everyone’s beauty,” sophomore Aklesiya Abebe said. However, everything is not that black and white. There are TV shows today that promote diversity and have female leads.

“On TV, I watch shows that have a pretty diverse cast, so I think now TV shows in general are getting diverse,” Abebe said.

Shonda Rhimes, best known for her hit TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder, has lead black female characters and in addition to that, these female characters don’t spend most of their screen times focusing on boyfriend issues.

Commercials are also beginning to show the different faces of America. Just last year during the Super Bowl, there was a lot of diversity. In fact, according to the 2015 study of Super Bowl ads by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, African Americans had a leading position is 19 out of 61 commercials. In addition to that, the objectification of women has also reduced. This new change in media has to do in part by the millennia generation.

According to NBC News, young adults between the ages of 18-33 are more diverse. The fact that there is more diversity in the next generation is proof that there is some sort of change happening in our society and it is hope that there will be more representation and acceptance in the future. Society is changing.

Although Hollywood is attempting to change the lack of diversity in their shows and movies, they need to move quicker and catch up and show the colorful nation that we are.

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The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.
Media and its impact on our body image