Leah Langley brings us a discussion about the effects of reality TV.


Reality TV seems to be overtaking much of our television viewing time. With constant new shows emerging, the younger generation are being drawn in to watch ‘real people’ deal with ‘real situations’ live on air. Although they may provide entertainment and they seem to be constantly talked about, what sort of affect are these shows having on today’s adolescents? Are shows like Love Island, The Only Way Is Essex and Big Brother causing detrimental effects to their self-esteem and body image?

Many reality TV shows centre around women who idealise their beauty and body image, conveying the idea that their value is based on their appearance. These shows also portray the growing popularity of such stars, which seemingly escalates in relation to their physical beauty. Keeping Up With The Kardashians is an ever-popular show which is centred on a family who spend a massive amount of time and money on their appearance. With their newly altered appearances comes more fame and popularity, their social media frequently flooded with bikini and modelling shots. Although they have their own businesses because of their fame, it is still portrayed that beauty and popularity are needed for success.

The men of this created world are also portrayed in a negative way, with fame and TV time only being given to those who have the ‘perfect body’. Men in reality TV often must establish themselves as the best, and consequentially most “woman worthy”, to get anywhere. Younger boys watching such shows will perhaps be made to feel like their body is not as it should be, which could cause them to become insecure. They are also made to feel that without the perfect body, they won’t be able to get the ‘girl of their dreams’ or the lifestyle that they wish for, which in itself is an unhealthy message.

Reality TV constantly reveals inappropriate behaviour within peer groups and often endorses personal drama and bullying. Many shows see its stars display aggression towards each other, often in the case of women and girls as an attempt to secure their relationships with men. These sorts of displays give watchers the notion that gossiping is a normal part of all relationships and that being mean earns them the respect they want.

Perhaps the most damaging aspect of reality TV is that some people think it is real and do not realise that it is in fact far from ‘reality’, providing only a heavily edited and manipulated view of what is really happening. Although it provides us all with a good laugh from time to time, it is causing far more damage than what was once anticipated.


Featured image by: Amie Woodyatt


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