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Mass media and culture

A screenshot from New York magazine

The April issue of Vogue includes a story about a mother who put her 7-year-old on a diet, forcing her to lose 16 pounds before a photo shoot.
New York magazine criticized the story. Readers weighed in on the debate – no pun intended. Said one reader:

I just think that with this image obsessed world, the girl will have a lifetime to obsess about her weight but it shouldn’t start at 7.

The Vogue story didn’t surprise me, but that’s probably because I had been reading a textbook called Introduction to Mass Communication by Stanley Baran. It said:

  • By the time they enter the first grade, 40 percent of girls say they are happier when on a diet.
  • By their 17th birthday, 78 percent say they hate their bodies.
  • 90 percent of high school girls think they are overweight, up from 34 percent in 1995.
  • Americans spend $12 billion on cosmetic surgery per year.

Today in Introduction to Mass Communication class, we’ll talk about the impact of the media on culture. Notes for discussion from the Baran’s textbook are below.

Who is better known: Lisa Leslie, Olympic medalist and former star of the WNBA, or Heidi Montag? And why?

From a NY Daily News story on Montag:

Last month, Montag appeared on “Primetime” to claim she did not feel “prepared” for the procedures, which were performed by celebrity surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan just nine months before his fatal car crash.
“I definitely think I should have been way more informed. I think that doctors should really walk you through all aspects of it, not just the glamorous side of it,” the busty blond told ABC News’ Cynthia McFadden. “Doctors, it’s like they’re selling you cookies or something.”
Desperate to move on with her life, Montag told Life & Style that her scars serve as constant reminders that she made a big mistake last year.
“I would love to not be ‘plastic girl’ or whatever they call me,” she told the mag. “Surgery ruined my career and my personal life and just brought a lot of negativity into my world.
“I wish I could jump into a time machine and take it all back. Instead, I’m always going to feel like Edward Scissorhands.”

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