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. I apologize for the delay; I've been out of town but have returned finally. This is the final section of my thesis. References will be posted tomorrow, and normal posting will resume later this week.
Therefore, it is important not only to educate girls at a young age, but also to continue the education at length. Programs such as Shapesville have shown that it is possible to raise self-esteem and to convey positive body messages. As Dohnt and Tiggemann (2008) agree, “programs that target media internalisation [sic] at a young age are warranted, and the results of the present study indicate that Shapesville successfully achieve this aim” (231). However, one brief session is unlikely to last for a lifetime of positive body images. Just as a person cannot take one foreign language course and expect to become fluent, a girl cannot take one self-esteem enrichment course and expect to accept her body and change her perspective.
As aforementioned, if a female adolescent perceives thinness to be beauty and to lead to happiness, she will go to great lengths. This is unfortunate because some girls will develop eating disorders to achieve this goal. Female adolescents who are unable to attain the unrealistic definition of beauty will be likely to yield to low self-esteem. Conversely, if the definition of beauty is redefined so as to include a broader base of women—hopefully women of all types of beauty—female adolescents will be able to accept themselves, to have higher self-esteem, and to have higher body satisfaction to avoid drastic measures, such as eating disorders or body alterations. If programs like the Real Campaign for Beauty and educational tools like Shapesville become more prominent, the definition of beauty within our culture has the ability to change. Although the change would not likely happen over night or even within a few years, the next generation of female adolescents has the potential to live in a world without bias toward thinness, to consider themselves as beautiful as anyone else, and to achieve the high self-esteem that they need to be happy, healthy, and confident.