Market research company Nielsen reports that Americans bought 30.6 million cases of beer ($658 million) last year for Cinco de Mayo. "That's more beer than was sold for the Super Bowl or St. Patrick's Day," reports the NPR radio show Marketplace Morning Report. Indeed, Jose Alamillo, a professor of Chicano studies at California State University Channel Islands, says, "Beer companies have been largely responsible for the commodification of Cinco de Mayo. I mean, they spend millions and millions of dollar in Spanish-language advertising." That's mostly in the U.S., by the way. "In Mexico, we don't really do Cinco de Mayo," says Marie, a booth attendant (for Ford) at Los Angeles' massive Cinco de Mayo street festival this year. "It's more of an Americanized holiday." And "Americanized," intones the Marketplace announcer, means "commercialized." [marketplace.org, 5/2/14; NPR, 5/2/14 stats]
Teens who have ridden with drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs are far more likely to drive while impaired themselves, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. The study, which followed students from 10th through 12th grade, found that they were about 120 times more likely to drive while impaired if they'd previously ridden with an intoxicated or drug-using driver. "When you experience [riding with an impaired driver], it's a normalizing experience," says study author Bruce Simons-Morton, a senior investigator with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "It sort of suggests that that's just how people do it, so it's OK." [usatoday.com, 3/17/14 stats, c&e]
America's attitudes about tattoos are obviously changing. According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, in 1999 21% of respondents said someone in their household had been inked. Today that percentage has nearly doubled, to 40%. On the other hand, the country's attitude about newspaper ink is shifting in the opposite direction. In 1999, 79% said they read the newspaper in print at least three times a week. Now it's 47%. [nbcnews.com, 5/2/14 stats]
"I expected so much more hate. It was just remarkably positive, which is beautiful, because it's indicative of the change that's happening."
—actress Ellen Page, talking with Flare magazine about her recent experience coming out as a lesbian. Page went on to speak of her own internal conflicts, saying, "You think you're in a place where you're all 'I'm thrilled to be gay, I have no issues about being gay anymore, I don't feel shame about being gay,' but you actually do. You're just not fully aware of it. I think I still felt scared about people knowing. I felt awkward around gay people; I felt guilty for not being myself." [usatoday.com, 4/29/14]
According to a study by the New York Film Academy, more than a quarter of film actresses either got partially or totally nude in the top 500 films between 2007 and 2012. The same stat for men? Less than 10%. [relevantmagazine.com, 4/23/14 stats]
"Over the last century the camera has emerged and evolved as a popular art form, culminating, in this moment of the selfie. In our phones, the camera has become something other than it has ever been, demonstrating just how the technology and culture of the Internet has changed humankind. … Social media gives us each the power to share our selves with the world, and so we don't share our view of the world anymore—that would be pointless as any view in the world is merely a Google image search away. Instead, we share our view of ourselves."
—The Daily Dot contributor Nicholas White [thedailydot.com, 4/24/14]
A new study is reportedly the first to correlate high Facebook usage with poor body image in young women. Researchers from the University of Strathclyde, Ohio University and the University of Iowa surveyed 881 college women in the U.S., asking them questions about their Facebook usage, exercise, eating habits and body image. They found that the more selfies women were exposed to via social media, the more likely they were to think negatively about their own appearance and bodies. "Spending more time on Facebook is not connected to developing a bad relationship with food, but there is a connection to poor body image," said Petya Eckler of the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, Scotland. "The attention to physical attributes may be even more dangerous on social media than on traditional media because participants in social media are people we know. These comparisons are much more relevant and hit closer to home. Yet they may be just as unrealistic as the images we see on traditional media."
One recent example: Triana Lavey, a 39-year-old talent agent from Los Angeles, had $15,000 of plastic surgery done to improve how she looks in her selfies. She says, "Social media has really changed so much about how we look at ourselves and judge ourselves. … I now have the face that I always thought that I had. I look like myself, but Photoshopped." [bbc.com, 4/10/14; nydailynews.com, 4/25/14 c&e]
A great deal of attention is paid to how entertainment impacts girls' perceptions of their body image. But movies and magazines can have an unhealthy impact on boys, too. The latest example of that influence, some experts say, can be connected to the recent movie 300: Rise of an Empire. When its predecessor, 300, came out, an exercise regimen called the 300 workout (reportedly based on techniques the movie's stars used to get bulked up for their roles) swept through health clubs—even though most of 300's stars were unable to follow the program's daunting requirements. (Gerard Butler said that after 300 he was unable to work out for a year because the program exhausted him so much.) So what about those images' effects on impressionable young males? "Ripped male bodies that grace our movie screens have boys thinking they're inadequate," writes Eliana Dockterman. She cites research indicating that a quarter of men today think they're underweight, and more than half say they feel insecure about their bodies at least once a week. Some spend unhealthy amounts of time working out, use unregulated substances to pack on muscle and even can resort to steroids. "Instead of wanting to [do] something unhealthy to get smaller, they're using unhealthy means to get larger," says Dr. Alison Field, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital. [time.com, 3/11/14]
Even though dramatic media reports might have you thinking that school bullying and abuse is running rampant, a new analysis of existing data indicates that bullying and youth violence may actually be on the decline. The findings are based on a series of surveys taken in 2003, 2008 and 2011 of children and teens between the ages of two and 17 years old; of the 50 types of violence collectively measured, 27 types declined in frequency during the study period. Assault and bullying both dropped by about a third, and sexual violence declined by a quarter. Researchers suggest, however, that these numbers may be partially attributable to fewer face-to-face interactions because of the increased use of electronic media.
Andrew Halls, the head of the prestigious King's College School, Wimbledon, a school for seven to 18-year-old students in London, contends that the online environment children grow up in today can be witheringly critical. "Social networking sites require every 21st-century teenager to live his or her life under the eye of an electronic adjudicator far more cruel and censorious than any examiner, school teacher, or parent," Halls says. "No previous generation has spent so long online, 'liking' and being 'liked', or devastatingly ignored, in the OCD world of never-ending updates, status change, Instagram, AskFM, Little Gossip and Facebook. No wonder that every teenager can feel like the hopelessly inadequate star of his own second-rate biopic." He adds that today's teens live the "tortured drama of their adolescence under the scrutiny of hundreds or even thousands of others," a way of life that can make them feel "small and vulnerable." [nbcnews.com, 4/29/14; dailymail.co.uk, 3/18/14 stats, c&e]