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Exploring media influence on African female university student’s perceptions of themselves.

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Date

2021

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Abstract

Young women are the most impressionable demographic globally. This group of individuals is still in development and on their way to becoming adults. Much of how they are developing relies on their relationship with the outside world, as well as how they perceive themselves. Media plays an enormous role in the life of this demographic as they are continuously learning. Significantly, media can be influential in determining how a young woman sees herself. This study aimed to determine how media influences young African female students’ perceptions of themselves. The research explored female students’ selfperceptions in relation to the media’s presentation of beauty. In this study, eight participants were chosen using the non-probability random sampling strategy. The participants were African female students from the Howard College campus, ranging between their first to fourth year of study. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data collected by using semistructured interviews. The major findings of this study were that African female students were influenced by media’s standards of beauty and felt pressured to adopt the characteristics of that standard of beauty. The participants revealed that they perceived themselves as not meeting those standards of beauty and have experienced psychological problems due to a lack of inclusivity in beauty as represented by the media. Based on the study results, it is recommended that it may be useful to conduct a broad quantitative study to enable the generalization of results to a large population. Secondly, it might be interesting to explore the influence of the media on male university students and their self-perceptions thereof. Finally, the study results indicated a high use of social media as compared to the other withstanding media platforms (television, magazines, billboards, radio). Therefore, it is recommended to specifically explore the psychological implications of the excessive use of social media.

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Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

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