Thesis: Media Effects on Pre-Adolescent Girls on Their Cognitive Development and Thinking

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Media Effects on Pre-Adolescent Girls on Their Cognitive Development and Thinking

Media Effects on Pre-Adolescent Girls: Cognitive Development and Thinking

Society has seemingly always been very interested in appearance. Some pre-adolescents and teenagers take this too far, however, and worry so much about their appearance that they neglect the person that they are inside (Angie, 2008). Ultimately, it would seem that who someone is on the inside should be much more important than what they look like on the outside, but this does not often appear to be the case. The purpose of this paper is to show how obsessed society has become with appearance and overt sexuality, especially when it comes to pre-adolescent girls where print and TV watching are concerned, and to show that, to most people, appearance is touted as being more important in today's world than anything else, even though this really should not be the case.

One of the reasons that pre-adolescent girls see appearance as being so important is because the movies and the television glamorize people so much (Media, 2008). There are very few people on television or in the movies who are unattractive, unless their character is designed to be that way. Even then, they are 'movie-star ugly' and not really physically unattractive. This is a large part of why these young girls view appearance as so important. There may be many people out there who are very talented at acting or singing, but they also have to have a certain 'look.' If they do not have what it takes in the opinion of producers and others who cast roles for movies and television, they will not make it (Media, 2008). In other words, they cannot get a job simply based on how much talent they have. They can, however, get a job based on their good looks, even if they have virtually no talent at all for acting or singing.

Instead of cultivating their minds and their understanding of themselves and others, pre-adolescents are exposed to television shows like America's Next Top Model, the Hills, and a variety of soap operas. They worry incessantly about their bodies, their faces, and how they look and smell. They buy expensive perfumes in their teenage years and have facelifts in their twenties and thirties so that they can keep up with others in their social circle. It becomes a competition as to who can look the youngest. A comment on a television news program recently even stated that looking old was no longer considered 'normal.' This is because there are so many treatments and procedures now that can make people look younger. This does not keep these people from aging, however, and eventually their bodies and minds give up even if they still look young.

These young girls do not get these ideas only from television shows, they also get them from music videos - particular hip hop and other genres where there are many bands who have songs which contain sexual lyrics and talk about how women should look and how they should be portrayed. Commercials for many different products are just as bad, as they indicate that a person must be beautiful in order to get anywhere, and that women must use this beauty to get what they want in life. They are effectively teaching young girls to be sexual at a much younger age in order to 'control' men and get what they want (Angie, 2008). The commercials for Barbie and Bratz dolls and others like them indicate how 'beautiful' or 'sexy' or 'hot' a girl is supposed to look (Wadyka, 2007). Pre-adolescent girls who are not sure what to do with that 'beauty' can just pick up a copy of Elle, Seventeen, or Teen magazine. The ads and articles in there will certainly educate them on anything they might have missed regarding how to be sexual.

According to an article produced by the University of California at Santa Barbara, over 65% of television shows have some kind of sexual content in them and this is increasing each year (Sexuality, 2008). In today's society, the more attractive and sexually provocative people often have the edge over other people. This is not particularly surprising, but research into beauty also indicates that people everywhere share an idea of what beauty is. This startled many researchers, as they thought that the idea of what is beautiful would change across cultures. However, much of what others find attractive about men or women remains the same, no matter where they are (Carey, 1996).

This would indicate that the media might not be entirely to blame for the issue of appearance and importance and sexuality. Perhaps there is something genetic that requires people to notice others who have facial symmetry and other things that everyone finds attractive. This seems to be something that is universal, and it may help to show why some people are seen as having more than others. It is not because they have more money or talent, but only because they have symmetry that somehow is encoded in human DNA as being important or pleasing (Carey, 1996). But is this genetic, or is it learned behavior that is beginning at younger and younger ages because of the messages that the media is pushing onto everyone, but specifically young girls.

Beauty and appearance are meant to be enjoyed, and there is nothing wrong with this. However, some people take this appearance to such excess that it is really overwhelming, and this is where problems come into the picture with anorexia, bulimia, and other problems that often come from making an excessive effort to be thin and beautiful (Angie, 2008). Beauty must be balanced by a sense of understanding and realism, instead of simply assuming that everyone can be made to be 'perfect.'

Those who do not understand how to balance these things often have problems that go beyond merely having eating difficulties. These eating disorders can be very serious, but there are psychological problems and difficulties that are also apparent and becoming more obvious as more people become concerned about their looks and new procedures are created to help these people change the looks that they were born with. The demand for these procedures is very high, and this shows the increasing interest that people have in making themselves look the way that they perceive all attractive people look.

The most unfortunate circumstance of society's interest in appearance and sexuality, however, is that children are often on diets and they are being required to watch how they dress and how they act (Committee, 2001). They are not allowed to actually be children anymore and enjoy being young and having fun. Instead, they must stay inside because they might get their clothes dirty. They are not allowed to play with certain children in the neighborhood because they are not 'our kind of people.' They also must be on a diet because they have some baby fat left over from when they were very young, and their parents see this as a problem, instead of just making sure their children eat well and allowing them outside to get some exercise.

This excessive concern over the weight and look of children has caused body image problems for many of these young people, and this is a problem that can plague them into later life as well (Angie, 2008). The importance of appearance in children should be placed on making sure that they take good care of themselves and do healthy things (Our, 2003). Taking care of oneself should be taught at a young age, but dieting and starving oneself should not. Most people can control their weight by eating less and exercising more, and forcing young children to diet sends them a message that how they look is much more important than who they are, and that they must be thin in order to be attractive to others.

Adolescents who are extremely overweight should lose weight for health reasons, but a couple of pounds of baby fat is not going to make a significant difference in a child's life and usually will not bother their health - but many media advertisements insist that this is just wrong and unattractive and that they will never entice a man to do their bidding unless they are tiny and delicate and frail (Committee, 2001). Some people are also naturally bigger than others, due to genetics, bone structure, and other issues. This must be taken into account, and people must be treated as though they have value, whatever their shape. Teaching children otherwise gives them the wrong idea about what is important in life, and it teaches them to judge people in ways that they really should not.

As can be seen, appearance plays a crucial role in how people perceive each other, especially when they are very young. The messages that they are taught then often last their entire lives. Most people do not want to associate with or become… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Media Effects on Pre-Adolescent Girls on Their Cognitive Development and Thinking."  Essaytown.com.  October 27, 2008.  Accessed October 16, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/media-effects-pre-adolescent-girls/52425.