Empire of Images: The Body Collage Project

By Melanie Klein-- I wasn’t trying to make a political or intellectual statement when I decided to get rid of my television in college.

I was trying to send a message to my live-in boyfriend, the one who was perpetually tuned in to sports channels and too distracted by video games to do his share of household chores. My message was simple and practical. Like, hey, pick up your wet towel off the bathroom floor. Or, hey, time to make dinner for me.

I’d been a pop culture junkie since girlhood and when I broke up with the TV, I felt like my best friend and I had broken up. But I noticed something extraordinary in a few short months. For the first time since I was 8-years-old, I felt good about myself. I wasn’t as critical, meticulously evaluating and judging every inch of my body. It took me a few weeks to figure out how the usual “fat talk” had diminished.

I didn’t completely cut media out of my life. I still enjoyed movies, read a weekly tabloid or two, and of course I continued to be subjected to the usual onslaught of media messages on virtually every cultural space available; billboards, buses, check-out stands, the free “postcards” (ahem, ads) in restaurants etc. But just that one effort to minimize my level of exposure had produced some important results: an increase in my self-esteem and a broader, more inclusive image of beauty- one that was less defined by unrealistic standards and Photoshop.

I’d always known that I didn’t fit the cultural beauty ideal, but it certainly didn’t keep me from making endless dangerous attempts to squeeze myself into that narrow definition. But it wasn’t until I stopped watching television that I realized the monstrous amount of images I had been exposed to, their negative consequences and the incredible difference between what is expected and what is real.

Years later when I began teaching a college course called Women and Pop Culture, I wanted to create a similar experience for my students, an opportunity for them to come face-to-face with the barrage of unrealistic expectations that profit from our insecurities and the reality of female beauty. The result was a project called the Body Collage. Each student was required to fill a poster board with images of beauty from mainstream magazines. I took each poster and covered 2 walls from floor to ceiling and then photographed my students in front of this “empire of images.” The results were striking.

"The power of the body collage was, not to sound redundant, powerful. Being able to stand in front of the endless images of "real" women and realizing that I myself was the real woman, was beyond inspirational."- Chandler R.

"My mom and I have probably have about 4 different (fashion) magazine subscriptions so each month as I browse through them I am shown what is the 'ideal' and what the media considers 'beautiful.' It was so easy to get these images because these magazines are half ads. The first section is just a parade of these women's "perfect" bodies. Then there are the actual fashion spreads. Standing in front of the wall filled with these images was like standing in front of my months subscriptions. The only thing missing was the occasional article. It pretty ridiculous how these ads force and coerce people into believe that this is the 'standard'. Seeing the bodies all put together only illuminates the fact that the size 0 frame is anything but normal, average or the 'standard'" --Devin R.

"It made me upset when I looked at my finished collage and I didn't even see one person who looked like me. I've always felt like I am the one who looks different and that there is something wrong with me, but I was wrong because I didn't realize that these images in the media are fake and altered and in no way reflect what real women look like.- Charlene G.

"Looking at all the collages together,  you can't help but feel overwhelmed by all the images that are plastered around you and it's amazing how we think we can ignore it but we can’t."- Diana S.

"When viewing the wall of images that the class created with everyone, I realized that not a single person in the room looked the way that all of the models did. It really emphasized just how unrealistic and altered the images really are. Everything from the models' waist sizes, breast sizes, and perfect skin are in some way altered through Photoshop, the makeup they have on, or the extreme measures most models take to become so skinny. There was really no diversity, which is ironic because the United States is probably the most diverse country in the world. The high, high majority of real women were not represented in any of the collages, which shows how cultivated our media really is." -Kaila M

"The wall of all these fake women that have been altered to look 'perfect' was an eye opener for me. None of the women in the class that stood in front of the wall looked like none of the women on the wall yet those are the images that are bombarding us to say how we need to look. When I was doing my poster I started to get mad of how I was cutting out all these women from all these different magazines and I couldn’t relate to none of them. I had a Spanish magazine were Latina women were being shown in it and it got me even more pissed because Latinas are known for having curves and not being stick thin yet every single woman I cut out was changed to look skinny and flawless." -Maribel M

Watch a slideshow of The Body Collage Project

Check out the video students made documenting the Body Collage Project: "This Is What a Real Woman Looks Like"

About this blogger: Melanie Klein is an Associate Faculty member at Santa Monica College, teaching Sociology and Women’s Studies. She attributes feminism and yoga as the two primary influences in her work. She is committed to communal collaboration, raising consciousness, media literacy, facilitating the healing of distorted body images and promoting healthy body relationships. She has worked with the new citizen journalists of the LA Academy of Global Girl Media and the peer-educators of J.A.D.E (Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating) on ways to tap into the power of their own voice. She is the adviser of the Santa Monica College Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and founder and co-coordinator of WAM! LA.Her work may also be found at Feminist FataleAdios Barbie, Elephant Journal, Ms. Magazine's blog and WIMN's Voices. She is featured in the forthcoming book, Conversations with Modern Yogis and the documentary, The American Housewife.

cmysko's picture


niluV's picture

It’s very interesting to read about the Body Collage project and hear the stories of students who, like myself, have been affected by unrealistic images of women in fashion magazines and the media – all altered, misrepresentations of a true woman. Not only do such images of women publically misrepresent women, they promote an unhealthy lifestyle. A lifestyle that is devoid of appreciating one’s beautiful, natural body and individuality. Thus, it’s so beneficial for women to recognize these images as false, learn to avert them and not become affected by their unrealistic demands.
Alex.atienzo's picture

I found the comment by Charlene about how upsetting it was to see that none of the women on the collage looked like her disheartening, it's very much representative of how women and young girls think due to the misrepresentation of ideal body image thanks to the media. Women and young girls are cultivated to believe that this is what they must look like, and if they fall even an inch outside those restrictions, then something must be wrong with them. All this resulting in an endless cycle of women buying products to make themselves look more aesthetically pleasing and continuing to find flaws in themselves to fix. The Body Collage helps break down the idea that women need to look like the models on adverts and shows others that these women are doctored to look a certain way; thereby allowing women to create a much more realistic and holistic body image.
misslbooker's picture

This is a great project, I would have love to do this with my girl's group. My master's thesis was on unrealistic and idealized body images and how those standards of beauty are the root to low self esteem and eating disordered behaviors. Wonderful!
idecredico's picture

This project is so important because insecurities begin when we are young and if we can understand that the images the media produces are not real than hopefully our negative outlook on our bodies will not progress into our adulthood. The distorted image we have of real beautiful women greatly affects the women and men in our society and cutting out as much negative media as possibly really can help decrease the vanity and the extreme measures we take to reach this unattainable image. We need to stop comparing ourselves to this marginalized idea of beauty and recognize and appreciate our differences.
melina.yaraghchi's picture

This project is very interesting and cool. I have compared myself many times with women in the magazines and it always hurts when I notice that I don't look anything like them. However, I`m glad to find out not only me, but there are thousands other women who do not fit into the standards of beauty that's dictated by media. This shows how unrealistic and unrepresentative these images are. Reading comments of the students was very interesting. I can relate to many of their feelings. I wish I could have done the project with them!
nikkirazzaghi's picture

By cutting out images of women in magazines, the students learn that there is a reason these images are placed in these magazines and that is because they reflect perfection. Magazines and advertisement companies only want to project what is perfect and beautiful in their eyes, which in turn changes our idea of what beauty is. This project provides ways for girls/women to see the true images of beauty which is themselves, as oppose to the fake images shown in the media. When seeing all of these pictures on the posters next to one another, and then seeing each other in front of it, the students learn that these images are fake and unreal, in turn providing an appreciation for themselves and learning that they are the true beauties.
Nicole S.'s picture

This project seems like such a great idea. I'm glad to find out that I am not the only one to have insecurities when looking at these types of images; however, the sad part is that I'm sure young girls put these same distorted, photo-shopped images on their walls and idolize the women in them. It just makes me hope than one day, both girls and boys will be able to look in the mirror and feel contempt with themselves. By the way, I commend you on being strong enough to get rid of your TV in college, because I don't think I could do the same!
Ryan M's picture

Students can potentially learn a lot through the project you had them do. It is saddening that the media has such control over the decisions women make. Women base their lives on the standards of society, which are made up by the media. Women see dozens of advertisements throughout the day, which all depict the same notion of beauty to them. With projects such as the one you assigned, awareness can be raised, and women can learn to ignore these oblivious messages being sent from the media. I would definitely recommend that women all participate in a project of sorts that will enrich their minds with the nonsense the mass media depicts.I was amazed to see the quotes you placed next to each student. I was definitely glad to see learn something from the project that will help enrich their everyday lives.
Ryan M's picture

Students can potentially learn a lot through this project. The media does control the way many women live their lives. Many women live their lives trying to adjust to the standards of society. With projects like that you assigned, students can learn to live their lives with joy, neglecting the ideas being thrown at them by the mass media. I was shocked to the knowledge that many of the students had gained through the project. It is definitely important for women to to be able to live their lives without worrying about their physical appearance. The images women see on television have an tremendous impact on the way they live their lives.
joshberu's picture

The Collage Project brings a lot of attention to how different real people are from the images portrayed in the media. I think that these images are poison to the minds of young kids and teenagers. If they are not taught to think correctly by their parents or teachers, it is almost guaranteed that they will have low self esteem. I think major action must be taken by the school system to educate people about the reality of advertising and media. If they do not, it is as if they are sending vulnerable, unprotected people into a cage of wild animals. In other words, people are defenseless if they are not educated.
jorge garcia's picture

The women in the magazines are meant to reflect what is considered to be "perfect" and "ideal". of course no one - except for celebrities - is ever going to achieve these standards set by the media. the individual is not going to have a swarm of make up artist do his or her make up every single morning of their lives. the pictures in most of the ads are also no where near a reflection of what a normal/regular person looks like in real life.
The media and corporations are out to take make the most money out of everyones insecurities, and are ready to sell us anything that would give us the "opportunity" to try to achieve their standards.
i truly believe this is an outstanding project. Not only does it help the individual see that he or she is not alone, and also that the images are nothing but unrealistic.

Harper_Tisa_A's picture

I Love this body collage, I saw myself through most of the video images. I have always felt un pretty, to my peers and the world around me, although family, friends and just random people have always complimented me with words like: (you're beautiful, you have beautiful eyes, or smile, your skin is flawless) I've even been told that I'm not that big. But if all this was so true and the world around me like what they see then why am I so afraid to see myself as the beautiful eye, flawless skin big girl. Thats because I was one of those beautiful teens that is now a Woman and a mother who has for many years been idolizing the stereotypes of how women should look in order to be accepted by others, feeling un pretty to the television images and the magazine ads, I didn't look like the women on television, billboard ads. I am one of those who for many year tried dieting, exercising, even having the all black wardrobe but none of the above never worked for me, I still don't fit in. I started living through the image of my daughter, she's light skin, beautiful,a model size, gorgeous big eyes and hair down her back. But today for some reason she now says: mom I'm not as beautiful as my friends, she feels fat, she's don't thinks she's attractive enough and it kills me to see such beautiful girl stand before me in such disbelief on how she see herself against the next top model, basketball wives, jersey shore and gossip girls, like so many others I disagree. Wow "Talk about Cinderella ate my Daughter, has she become me.

KeniaC.'s picture

We are influenced to seek an ideal body throughout our whole life's. There is always something wrong with us no matter what. Its either we aren't skinny enough, our skin isn't flawless, we have no ass, no boobs, maybe our boobs are too big. It's simple. Everyone will always see something wrong with you. We won't ever be perfect if we try satisfying others and live according to the ideals of of our culture. I think this project was very eye-opening. These girls realized that perfection is something we are taught to believe exists, when in reality it really doesn't. If we compare ourselves to what we see in magazines, ads and television we will never be good enough for ourselves. What is important is appreciating ourselves, and valuing our well-being. WE are real women. The women we see in magazines aren't even real to themselves.
Kelly Olson's picture

Thank you, very interesting piece! I could not agree more that at an early age boys and mostly girls are bombarded with these messages of how they should look, act, dress etc. Taking the time to analyze and looking at what the mainstream media puts out there with a analytic lens, like you did with your Women and Pop Culture class, really makes you see that none of the things that are put in the magazines, TV etc. is what can be found out in the real world (with some exceptions). Therefore comparing yourself with them will not get you anywhere. The sooner you realize that, that sooner you will gain confidence and accept yourself. Also I would like to add that I think it was a vey smart move of you, Prof. Klein, to distance yourself from the faulty messages the mainstream media gives us by, for instance, getting rid of your television. I hope that one day I can be as strong.
melina.yaraghchi's picture

This project is very interesting and cool. I have compared myself many times with women in the magazines and it always hurts when I notice that I don't look anything like them. However, I`m glad to find out not only me, but there are thousands other women who do not fit into the standards of beauty that's dictated by media. This shows how unrealistic and unrepresentative these images are. Reading comments of the students was very interesting. I can relate to many of their feelings. I wish I could have done the project with them!
yaghoubi.mahsa333's picture

Mahsa Yaghoubi -This is really a great piece, it almsot inspires me to throw out my tv too. i couldnt agree more about how television, and the media overall targets young girls and women and almost soaks up there brains with the images that they expose us too. Because of main stream media we arent able to embrace our bodies, and feel good about ourselves. and its great to know that we arent alone, and that there is a simple way to help change our minds about ourselves.
Michelle A's picture

This project is really cool. It's really sad to know that these images that are so far from the truth are what little girls think are normal. We all compare ourselves to others at times, but for young girls to grow up and think that they need to look like the women in the magazines it's ridiculous. The images are so far from the truth. I hope that one day the media will put an end to these fake images and women will be empowered for how they look naturally without having to change themselves.
erinkaitel's picture

Wow. Just looking at the pictures of this wall is simply stunning. When I read magazines, I always feel bad about myself because I don't look like the models on the page, but after looking at these pictures, I am starting to realize how silly I am for comparing myself to a standard of beauty that is simply unreal.
Myra Flores's picture

I can recall cutting out images of my ideal body from magazines and placing them on my bedroom walls in hopes that constant exposure to these images would inspire to lose some weight. Except what really happened was completely opposite of what i hoped. Instead of getting inspired, i criticized my body even more, i looked at my reflection even more, and my self-esteem was no where to being healthy. Seeing the images on my walls completely distorted the image i saw in the mirror. I realized that i had created a visual representation of all the things that were wrong with me and that i was punishing myself for not being able to achieve the unrealistic and unnatural beauty that only existed on the printed pages of magazines. I sought a healthier way to losing weight by exercising and eating right. This only caused a greater problem; i kept increasing the time spent on exercise because i was seeing no improvements in my body, the disappointment led me to develop a disordered eating habit. I found comfort in food, i would eat after my workout without being hungry, and i knew my limit. I was smart enough not to cross it because i knew the possible consequences. So if i was smart enough to prevent myself from crossing a line; how could i not realize that i was punishing myself for not being good enough? I wasnt in control of constructing the images in magazines, but i sure was stubborn to insist that i wasnt normal compared to the images. The realization that i was real and diverse and that the women in magazines were nothing compared to the women i'd seen around me; didnt come quickly but i gradually learned that my reflection was a positive image.
jorge garcia's picture

The women in the magazines are meant to reflect what is considered to be "perfect" and "ideal". of course no one - except for celebrities - is ever going to achieve these standards set by the media. the individual is not going to have a swarm of make up artist do his or her make up every single morning of their lives. the pictures in most of the ads are also no where near a reflection of what a normal/regular person looks like in real life. The media and corporations are out to take make the most money out of everyones insecurities, and are ready to sell us anything that would give us the "opportunity" to try to achieve their standards. i truly believe this is an outstanding project. Not only does it help the individual see that he or she is not alone, and also that the images are nothing but unrealistic.
angelo V's picture

This shows how the media has such a big impact on the psychology and behavior of women. It also shows how the media and big corporations, which promote such beauty ads, don't care about the individuals in society and are sorely looking to profit financially from the ads. Another thing that caught my interest was how much of an influence ads have on people. This implies that there are lots of ads and that the ads have been specifically design to target their viewers so that the media could profit off of them.
Negar A's picture

That's very true that we trap in unrealistic images that media constructed for us. In my experience, when I was a kid I always wished to have long blond hair, later when I was a teen I wished to be skinnier and to have softer skin, and now I feel terrible after looking at main stream magazines because I see myself far from what fashion magazines show as a real woman.
OliviaS's picture

What a wonderful project and great statement having real women stand in front of what the media puts forth as "real" women. There is such a discrepancy between what women around the world look like as opposed to what the media says a women should look like. I have never had a clinically diagnosed eating disorder, but there have definitely been times when I don't like certain parts of my body because other images of perfect women are being advertised. Every single woman is beautiful in our own way, and it's absolutely horrible that the media makes us forget that.
MarinaV's picture

This past August I went to a very small old Roman town outside of Barcelona with my family. I didn't have my cell phone, there were no advertisements in the town other than for the local businesses and I didn't have internet access. The three weeks I spent there were life changing, I realized that the American Culture is extremely superficial and consumer oriented. I didn't buy a single piece of clothing or makeup while I was there, I didn't stress over putting makeup on. I was not obsessing over what I was going to wear the next night I went out, it was a time of peace for me to merely reflect and get in touch with my inner feelings that are unfortunately usually suppressed. I think the fact that I didn't watch TV and didn't have access to the Internet had a huge impact on me.
JessicaB's picture

As a student in Melanie's Women and Pop Culture class, I am gaining a new understanding and different perspective of the media. I've know, for years now, that the images of "real women" that we are inundated with on a daily basis are not only NOT a depiction of what real women look like, but that they are the driving force of so many of the problems that women in our culture face. I have known many women with eating disorders; I've watched them struggle in ways that most people can't even begin to comprehend, and I know that if our media-driven culture didn't set such impossible standards of beauty this would not be such a prevalent issue among young women. And from what I've read and heard in professor Klein's class, this problem is only getting worse. We are seeing younger and younger girls with eating disorders or on diets. I have heard mothers telling their little girls in elementary school not to eat things because it makes their tummies big. It's absolutely appalling how women in our culture have almost no chance at having any sort of self-esteem or positive self talk. Women are inherently insecure and have to do a lot of work to combat the damage done by the media... loving oneself should not be such an uphill battle! Thank you, professor Klein, for being one of the people doing everything in their power to fight back. The Body Collage Project, and all of the work that we do for that matter, is such a smart, creative, and powerful tool for empowerment. It enables the young people in your classes, and all the people who have been exposed to the pictures and videos that have been posted to different blogs, to really SEE what we are up against. I am really looking forward to creating our "empire of images" and being a part of the solution.
bre.elliott's picture

AubreanaE: It’s rather disgusting in my opinion what the media has caused women to do to themselves. Reading this makes me think of myself and how I used to always be worried about how can I look like her "the real woman" or how can I be more like her when all along "her" "the real woman" never existed. I am a student of Melanie Kleins Women’s Studies class and she has done a great job of showing and teaching me how it is so easy to waste positive energy trying to look like these non-existent "real women". We as women and even mean need to realize that if we continue to let the media control our body image than we will never be one with our body image we will always be someone else.
Brianda B.'s picture

It so true, we don’t realize how much the media actually shapes our way of thinking and our actions. I had a similar “TV” experience, but instead of completely tuning out and throwing my TV away, I started watching UK TV series like “Misfits”, “Skins” and “Being Human.” I didn’t think much of the difference between American culture and the UK’s until I started noticing that I was less judgmental and more accepting towards my body. This was due to the fact that because I wasn’t paying attention to American mainstream media but rather the UK’s whose actresses represented a more realistic woman, women who have imperfections and aren’t 5’7 weighing in at 110 lbs. More girls and women need to have experiences that make them understand that their bodies aren’t the problem rather that the media who promote unrealistic standards of beauty is the problem. Having these young women do this project brings us one step closer to actually exposing what the media really does to us women.
angelaangie's picture

After reading this article, I now realize
Nancy N's picture

After reading this, I realized how the television probably had an impact in my life as well. Growing up, I used to be obsessed with watching tv and looking through many beauty and fashion magazines. Now that I am older, I don't have the time to watch as much tv nor look through magazines. I realized, too, that I used to be more insecure with myself. The media would rarely, if ever, feature Asian people and even though I am petite, I felt uncomfortable that I wasn't as "fit" or "toned" like the women I saw. I think that idea of the collage is great. If I could put together ALL the images I have spent hours looking at, I know for a fact none of those women look like me. Thankfully, I don't have the time to watch much tv or read magazines, which I realize has a positive impact on myself. I can only hope that other women and most importantly, young girls, realize that beauty doesn't mean being white, thin, or whatever you see in the magazines or tv.
traciv's picture

This is a great project! What is truly sad is that I am under the cultural media spell... sadly to say I have pictures of cut outs from magazines that show "pretty" women on my and I look at this wall everyday wanting so badly to be like them. Everyday this is a reminder to me. On top of that I am a perfectionist in some ways and not be able to achieve what I think is perfection frustrates me in many ways, which lead to extreme measures. Maybe I need to take a double look at what I am doing and think in the way I would want other women to think about themselves and incorporate it in my life.
UrielG's picture

It's truly sad to see what the media is causing women. From a very young age women are starving themselves and compromising their health just to try to look like something that isn't real. A fake image of a woman that had been completely transformed. It's terrible to see all the effects that the media puts on all those women. Unfortunately, this impossible fantasy of looking like a model is impossible, so many of these women are about to be disappointed.
audriannagordon's picture

AudriannaG I watch alot of television myself and my partner is constantly on the web searching for news things (materialistic) that he might need. Last week I thought about packing our TV up and not paying the internet bill or hiding the router because he is absolutely obsessed with the internet. I know that putting away the internet and TV will change this image that I have constructed in my head of was is the ideal women but it just a matter of going through it for me. Television for me gives me a falsified idea of what life should be like and what people should look like and it completely oppresses me and I'm sure it oppresses a lot of other people. I love that you talk about this in you article because it changed my mind frame about actually going through with giving the no TV a shoot.
JoanneS's picture

"I’d always known that I didn’t fit the cultural beauty ideal, but it certainly didn’t keep me from making endless dangerous attempts to squeeze myself into that narrow definition." I can totally relate to your words. I'm 4'11 feet tall and I always knew that I never fit the cultural beauty standards of today's society. However, there were many accounts when I tried to fit in by changing the way I dress, dieting, wearing makeup, and acting cute and innocent when boys appeared in front of me. Simultaneously, I felt guilty for spending money on accessorizing my closest daily and watching makeup tutorials to enhance my looks. Until I took your class, I realized that I no longer had to feel guilty. It wasn't my fault for thinking the way I did. It's a systematic problem, and the media plays a large role in contributing to it.
neeloufar mahrouyan's picture

Our society constantly portrays a fake idea of what a "real" woman is. The women your see in billboards, magazines and TV are not real women; these images have been altered to such a high extent where is is impossible to look like. When doing this project, I wonder if any of these girls found images of women that looked similar to them. When I look through a magazine it is very unlikely that I will turn to a page that has a woman with a similar body type as me. Why is it that the average woman is 5'5 and 140, but the women in the media are 5'9 and 110. I find this to be very disturbing. This article makes me realize that the images in the media are highly unrealistic and only created to make some sort of profit from advertising.
Marine A's picture

After reading the article, it once again assures me that there is nothing wrong with being full figured. No one looks like the women in the ads. I think women pay too much attention to trying to fit in with society that it consumes all of their natural beauty. They try to be someone else and lose themselves in the process. Women shouldn't want to be a size zero, not all men like that, all that matters is that they are healthy. - Marine A
Marjani S's picture

I found this article very interesting. I grew up watching a lot of television and was a bit convinced that these people on television were the definition of beauty. I was not completely obsessed with trying to look or act like these people, but of course I became more aware of myself and how I looked. The media is a huge cause of people's perception of beauty. Everyday people want to look just like the people they see portrayed on television. I think this body collage project can help everyone think outside the box when it comes to beauty. I have given up on trying to be beautiful by the media's standards, because there is beauty in everyone, it's just a different beauty. People should define beauty by what they think, not what other people say. Everyone should be able to feel beautiful in their own skin.
idecredico's picture

It saddens me to think that people are immense profits off of the insecurities of women. I really do believe this should be regulated in some way. The media is causing women to go to all sorts of terribly unhealthy and life threatening extremes. The images aren't even real! Regardless I know personally that does not help me, I still feel like crap when I see the "ideal" body and then look down at my own. I think this is an amazing project that really opens up peoples eyes and let's them talk about to the media and shows people how beautifully diverse and unique real women are. Thank you for this article and your class it really has educated me tremendously.
Diana G's picture

It's sad how the media presure women to look a certain way the "ideal Body". When all these famous people I've met in my previous job dont look like the media wants us women to look and they dont have the "ideal body". Growing up I would buy all these magazines and I wanted to be like the girls on the cover. Now as a grown up I'm happy that I think different and I have learn to find myself. I have taken all these media photos and learned that I dont want to look like the girls on the cover. In a way I feel that I have switched the negative side of images and turned them into positive and establish what I dont want to look like.
supershannon91's picture

The Body Collage Project was truly awe-inspiring! I have done a presentation about the images of women in the media which is why I feel so strong about the impact those pictures mold a woman to be; or at least try to. It is very true that the media displays a distorted image of the "perfect" woman, one that which never exists. This project will give women the opportunity to not feel pressured to live up to the unrealistic standards in which all of the forms of mass media portrays. Way to go, Professor Klein! Shannon

mtz.ivette's picture

It is a process, it all is. I have never thought of any of this before my women studies class, but I (as other classmates) are learning about ourselves as women in our society. I have learned so much of myself and how I look through other people, in accepting myself and accepting others. I believe that thanks to media, i had become shallow and would criticize myself from head to toe.
jennifersetiawan's picture

I can truly relate to this article because ever since I moved out of my parents house for college, I don't have a TV and have since realized just how profound an effect the media has on young girls like me. Whenever I do watch TV at my friend's apartment next door, I feel that what used to seem normal to me, such as all the images of women who do not look at all like me, are now so clearly not normal at all! In fact, it's this constant misrepresentation of reality in the media that successfully creates distorted body images and profits billion of dollars to beauty industry and media pop culture industry of music, movies, magazines, television shows, etc. It's great to be able to look at this article and see that I'm not the only person experiencing this. Great job! - Jennifer S
Samanta K's picture

I remember one particular moment in a movie theater, three years ago, which shows me how brain washed I've become by the media. Sitting in a movie theater in Santa Clarita with my Australian, picture perfect actress friend Millie, I was watching "Shutter" with Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor (a horrible flick I don't recommend by the way). One scene shows a photographer taking pictures of two female models, wearing nothing but lingerie. I remember how shocked I was about the close-up, showing, believe it or not: CELLULITE! But instead of applauding that one movie finally showed reality, that even models were cursed with weak connective tissue, I was actually disgusted, making the following remark to my friend afterwards:"I don't go to a theater to see that! UGH! I wonder what those models thought after the shoot?! To be exposed like that! It must be humiliating..." It's funny to me now, looking back, how dumb I was! And exercises such as the "Body Image Collage Project" are a great way for young girls/women to realize, how crazy the "ideal", portrayed in the media really is. I think it's great that some of the students got really angry, when realizing that they could not find one image showing somebody similar to them...A step in the right direction, when it comes to self realization and self love!
ChloeShenassaWS10Scholars's picture

I fully agree with this article. I believe the only reason women question their bodies so much whether it be weight, height, or acne is because of the media. Because of the way the media constantly pushes upon us an impossible standard beauty women begin to try and hold themselves to this standard. When all you are surrounded by is the idea of perfection every time you look at or turn on any type of media it is hard to accept your self as you are and realize all the amazing things your body does for you.
ashoomer's picture

Avital S.: these images of what is beauty are everywhere and even if we dont realize it we are taking them in and applying it to ourselves. Many times it is completely unconcious and it seems so normal that we dont really question it. It isnt until we learn that these images are not real ones and try to spread the message that this is not reality, that we can change the norm. I think realizing that this is not reality is the first step to making an important and much needed change.
Doreen C's picture

This article clearly shows the effect and influence media has on a person. Since a young age, many people watch TV, and they do not even realize that they are comparing themselves to these commercials, shows, and advertisements. It would be one case if the media showed different type of girls of all different sizes, but there seems to be a theme with the media-the theme of skinny girls being a size 0! The media shows how to beautify your self, and how one should look. Without noticing, we subconsciously are comparing ourselves to the standard beauty and try to fix ourselves to fit in. The media also construct men, yet in a different way. While girls try to look like these celebrities, boys are constructed to fall for women who look like these celebrities. Men have higher standards due to the media-they expect every girl to have the sexy hot looking body. People need to begin to realize and be more conscious with the messages the media is sending.
Idor E's picture

Its crazy to see how at even a young age, many people want to look the same way they see these models on TV. I feel that at young age, people dont understand that most of these girls look nothing like they look like on TV. I completely agree with this article because I feel that these girls only want to look thin, beautiful, tan, and slim because of the what the media projects onto society. I feel that these young figures are just pulled in to this idea because of what the media is portraying.
DianaE's picture

I have never been an avid TV watcher but by reading this article, I can see how someone can see how detrimental television and all it's ads can have a negative effect on viewers. It's terrible that the emotional and physical help of women and men are put in risk so that a certain company can sell their product.
JoanaK's picture

We are exposed to media image of women and their body even though we might be too busy to watch television. Our lives are filled with advertisement every where we go. It is interesting how many girls know that the media image of women’s and their body is unrealistic, but yet they still feel the pressure to be like them. I think that pressure comes from society which is dominated by men. I believe that men want to see women that way that is why everyone feels under pressure to look certain way. Media does have a huge effect on girls providing them with means and ideals what they should look like or even the “tips” hot to get there if you want to look that way. It is funny how people follow these “tips” given by unqualified writers. Few days ago I watched a premier of a movie here at Santa Monica College where they were analyzing “doll owners”. The most shocking part was that some men did not believe there is a “perfect” women ( having the perfect body, not talking back, and just letting them be in total control) out there that is one of the reasons why they decide to become “fake women” owners in the first place.
Joshua G's picture

Reading this article made me feel more confident about my body. It is impossible to compare our bodies to models in these articles. Women torture themselves to look like the fake women in these articles. Its sad to see how people will go thru a life time and still be frustrated by not achieving these impossible bodies.
BridgetT's picture

After reading this article, I realized even more why I wasn't really into the pop culture scene during my youth years, and I still don't pay too much attention to celebrity gossip and the like. Aside from Saturday morning cartoons, the television was always off for me. When my dad asked me if I needed my own TV set when I went away for college, I asked him, "Dad, how often do you see me sitting in front of the one at home?" Life without television doesn't mean a life without the media. No matter what, the mass media will continue to influence people in ways we never thought of consciously. As stated, there are still movies, which everyone enjoys, that continue to impact us, as well as billboards, advertisements, and other media of the like that are nearly impossible to escape from, especially for people who live within the urban district where body image is almost always judged.


How many times per week do you see ads for "bikini bodies"?

get help