Body Shaming Women in Social Media and TV/Movies

As a 19 year old woman living in today’s world, women’s bodies continue to be shamed as depicted in movies, tv shows, advertisement, and social media. As a little girl, high school setting in movies and tv shows always centered around a pretty popular girl and the loser girl who everyone made fun of. As a young girl I wanted to be just like the skinny pretty girl because she was treated special. Even animated shows like Disney movies portray a princess who is very pretty.  Disney princesses’ were very skinny with tiny waists and because that is how Disney decided what the ideal body image should be.  Nowadays Instagram, a major social media site for young adults, is flooded with photos of women showing off their bodies.  The fitness industries images are plastered across print media and social media of how women should look, as skinny as possible. Victoria Secret, a lingerie shop is often praised for their stunningly beautiful models who attain bodies that most people can not achieve.  As a young woman, I am surrounded by mass media, whether it be in print, on the internet, in movies or tv, that sends a clear, yet unfair message of how my body should look, an unattainable weight that promotes poor self esteem in women.  

As a division one tennis player at Portland State University, I work out 3-4 hours per day 7 days a week and try to eat a balanced diet.  Even though I push my body to the limits of what it is physically capable of, my body is not close to those bodies that are admired in mass media.  The body that the mass media portrays as beautiful is a body that is unattainable to the average person.  One example of body shame women depicted in mass media is from a 2015 movie, The Duff.  This coming of age movie is about a girl, with a normal body size, named Bianca who is a senior in high school and has two best friends, Jess and Casey who are more attractive and  popular than her. In the movie someone tells her she is known as the DUFF which stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Bianca in a photo on the bottom to the right clearly is not ugly nor is she fat.  This movie centers around Bianca looks and attaches value to her as a person.  Bianca overcomes the label by reinventing herself and refuses to not let the mean friends define her.

In Bianca’s ugly phase, she is dressed in baggy clothes that didn’t have too much color.  Her makeup is minimal and her hair minimally styled.  Bianca is portrayed as ugly because she is dressed in baggy clothes, and no makeup.  Just because she isn’t wearing tight clothing or wearing a full face of makeup, does that make her ugly? In contrast, the popular character Madison is dressed like she was on a fashion runway. Comparing the two made me wonder why the popular mean girl get to be all dolled up and they shame upon girls who don’t dress as glamorous?  What I took from this is that if you are skinny and dress cute people will like you and want to be you. If you’re not skinny and you dress not as stylish, no one will really like you. This is a clear example of body shaming women. Young women take away the message that it isn’t ok to be anything but skinny. Many movies send a message that in order for girls to be accepted, you must be skinny to be beautiful.  Women need to be accepted for whatever body type they are and should not define who they are.


“Social Media and Body Image Concerns: Further Considerations and Broader Perspectives.”

This article, by Robert J. Williams, is about social media and how it is overtaking mass media. Social media is everywhere. Everyone is on it and you can’t really escape it. Body images that flood social media are so constant that young girls and women begin to believe that that is what women should look like.  Because achieving those body images are nearly unattainable to the average girl, they feel alienated and ashamed of their own body.  This article did many studies however one of the studies that caught my attention was that in Australia in 2014, studies showed that girls observed the internet for body images more so than using magazines and or TV exploring. Everyone dreams for the “perfect body” and we learn how to get a better one through social media, this article even mentioned that we learn more about bodies and looks through the media rather than searching the web. For example, a girls fitness page portrays a skinny fit body that makes the viewer desire one. I am not saying don’t try to be skinny but in social media  is flooded with pretty girls  showing off their perfect bodies and it puts a image in girls minds that if you want a ton of likes or if you want a lot of followers you need to look skinny to be pretty and you will become popular and people will like you. Images of the perfect body is everywhere.  Mass media needs to portray what girls actually look like and represent all body types as beautiful.

To the credit of some, there has been more acceptance to women of different shapes and sizes through some social media and movies. I have learned that within the last few years bigger women have been accepted for who they are and magazines and commercials are showing how beautiful they are and that they don’t need to be a Victoria’s secret model. Two different companies caught my attention in how they are evolving in showing a positive vibe towards the diversity of women’s bodies. Dove was the first company I noticed. They advertised a print ad of real women of many shapes and sizes in a way that was respectable and treated all of them as naturally beautiful.   However, Sports Illustrated 2016 issue made a surprising decision for their  bathing suit catalog. They put a bigger girl on the cover, Ashley Graham. This was great to see that even one of the most popular magazine companies was recognizing that women can be confident and sexy at a heavier weight. In the photo, Ashley is confident in a two piece bathing suit and gives an air of beauty.  In the last few of years  women’s bodies are being more accepted at all sizes and there is less pressure on being perfect. Women are being more accepted around the world for their own “perfect” bodies and hopefully this will continue and improve for all generations to come.


The DUFF. Dir. Ari Sandel. Prod. Susan Cartsonis, McG, and Mary. Screenplay by Josh A. Cagan. Perf. Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, and Bella Thorne. Lionsgate and CBS Films, February 12, 2015(LA Premier) February 20, 2015 (USA). Film.

Producers: Susan Cartsonis, McG, Mary Viola

Williams, Robert J., and Lina A., Ricciardelli. “Social Media and Body Image Concerns: Further Considerations and Broader Perspectives.” Springer Link. N.p., 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2017. <;.

Brazilian, Emma. “Real women have curves: marketers are embracing plus-size models as body-positive selfies and hashtags storm social media.” GALE. N.p., 25 Apr. 2016. Web. <|A451229452&v=2.1&u=s1185784&it=r&p=PPCM&sw=w&authCount=1>.


4 thoughts on “Body Shaming Women in Social Media and TV/Movies

  1. I absolutely love this topic, being a plus size girl I totally relate to social media not showing the average body type. I think it is great that you are bringing awareness on this topic through photos and your primary and secondary sources. I never watched The Duff because I thought the premise of the movie was kind of ridiculous, the best friend is actually really pretty so I thought it was weird that they made her the ugly fat friend. I was also really intrigued by the Victoria Secret campaign versus the Dove one, I never realized that VS’s campaign was the opposite of real life. I don’t ever see women that skinny and perfect in real life so why do they want younger impressionable girls thinking that is supposed to be their body standards? Thank you for opening my eyes to certain things, I think you did an amazing job!

  2. Thank you for choosing this identity to learn more about. I feel many women face this harsh standard and although everyone knows it’s there, no one talks about it. Modeling industries and young celebrity role models don’t seem to care how much of an impact they have on women and young girls. I also think that in many movies producers continue to find the need to have an “ugly” girl. I wonder why this is and why they don’t choose to focus their energy on another topic. Something as simple as a sports rivalry, or liking a popular character would suffice in adding drama to a movie.

    Thanks for sharing,

  3. I enjoyed reading your post! I feel like this is a great topic and should be talked about more in today’s world. As a male, I don’t relate to it, but I see the problem. I don’t think its healthy how women are portrayed in the media about their body and others. The hardest thing is to see intelligent people be insecure about their body because of how the media portrays them. I think that everyone’s body type is their body type and there shouldn’t be a standard.
    Great Post!

  4. I like this topic! I found this kind of problem a lot on social media like Instagram. Women try to be skinny just to get a lot of likes on social media and because of peer pressure. I think everyone should be comfortable in their own skin because that what makes ourselves happy. I enjoy reading your post. Thank you.

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