Monday, August 8, 2011

Positive Programs to Enhance Self-Esteem: Part 1

Over the next several days, I'm going to post sections of my thesis. I had a request to see it, and I figured I might as well post it here. It's about negative body images in the media and the programs that work to combat the negativity. Because the paper was long, each post will be one major section of the paper.

Social marketing (the idea to make the marketing industry more socially relevant) does not necessarily have to use the media to challenge or to change the messages; support groups, families, and peers can and should be used, as well (Thompson and Heinberg 1999:349; NEDA). Thompson and Heinberg enumerate four key issues that these groups could target to work toward redefining beauty:
  1. Preventing the behaviors that result from internalization of media images
  2. Promoting internalization of positive, healthy norms that are present and promoted by the media
  3. Informing consumers of strategies used to perpetuate unreasonable norms (e.g., airbrushed photos, computer-modified images, etc.)
  4. Providing information about the negative correlates of extreme weight loss behaviors (1999:349)
Several groups, some of which do work directly through the media and some of which take a more grass-roots approach by working with families, have sought to do this and continue to make great strides in correcting the damage done to female adolescents’ self-esteem as described below.

Fruit of the Loom
In 2009, Fruit of the Loom produced a commercial portraying healthy, moderately-sized women. The women are wearing Fruit of the Loom Fit-for-Me undergarments, a line designed for “full-figured women” (Fruit of the Loom 2006). A voiceover sings a lyric created specifically for the commercial: “There’s a smile that you show me, pulls me closer to you / As the moonlight reflects in your eyes / And the touch of your hand, dear, enchants me, romances me / Let’s leave the rest of the world far behind” (Fruit of the Loom 2006). The image is heartwarming until the audience learns that the voiceover is one of a group of men wearing giant fruit costumes known as The Fruit Guys. At this point, the commercial becomes a farce; all other commercials featuring the giant fruit are comical, and that perception bleeds into what could have resulted in positive body messages. Furthermore, the addition of the “Fit for Me” sign at the end of the commercial denotes that the women were used because they are full-sized women and not simply because they are beautiful models. Still, the commercial is a positive change from other Fruit of the Loom commercials which continue to show only underweight, scantily-clad models.

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