For example, in the sass and sass, American society’s stereotypically ideal measurements for a woman’s figure were a 36-inch bust, 24-inch waist, and 36-inch hips. The full-figured woman was thus deemed attractive. This changed in the late twentieth century when the slim, slender, and “fit” body became the ideal figure for both men and women. For women, the “ideal” female body grew slimmer over the decades starting with the sass (Sorrow 55). American society moved slowly from admiring female figures like Marilyn Monomer’s and Susan Worthy to obsessing about increasingly thinner figures.
Research has in fact “demonstrated that the women who embody the ideal of feminine beauty in the American culture (beauty queens and models) have become thinner over the last decades to he point that the ideal figure is actually below the actuarial norm” (Straight 19). The initial change in perception is often traced back to the late sass when an English teenager nicknamed Twiggy (who at 5. 7 feet weighed around 90 pounds) became a popular model(Sorrow 55).
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The staggering amount of images in mass media of increasingly thinner, and often pale-skinned and blonde females, have in their turn affected the perception of the ideal body image among women, particularly amidst those who do not fit these standards. Today, the mass media has become a powerful force in disseminating cultural attitudes about what is attractive. The standards of beauty affect not only women as images of muscular and incredibly toned men have come to fill the magazines and television as an example of what the ideal man looks like.
Men as well as women have been noted to be affected psychologically by the pursuit of an unrealistic idea of beauty as propagated in the media. This is for example clear by the growing numbers of plastic surgery procedures. However, the number of plastic surgeries and eating disorders remains higher among women who, regardless of age or social status, are choosing extreme measures to reach the desired body standards or looks seen in the Edie. This pursuit of the “ideal” beauty is very psychological in nature.
The media namely constantly reinforces the idea that women who lose weight can have the perfect family, career, and sex life. This makes women who do not have the desired thin figure feel inadequate. The National Eating Disorder (NEED) has for example noted that the primary cause behind the development Of the problem among women is related to the imitation Of a model or star who possesses the thin figure. NEED has therefore pleased with the media to try and present more diverse and realistic images of what he majority of women look like in order to reinforce self-esteem and follow a healthier lifestyle (Getter).
In relation to this observation about media’s stimuli lotion of eating disorders among women through its dissemination of unrealistic images about beauty is the noted conclusion among researchers that the thinner women grow in the media, the more prevalent problems like anorexia and bulimia become socially. The Playboy data demonstrates for example that measurements have moved to a more ‘tubular’ body shape. The movement towards a thinner body in Playboy and Miss America Pageant winners stands in sharp entrant with the increase in weight of the female population norm as given by the Society of the Actuaries.
Thus while the magazine centerfolds, Pageant participants, and presumably the prevailing female role models have been getting thinner, the average women of a similar age have become heavier” (Straight 18). These figures suggest that women deal with beauty standards through developing problems like disordered eating, which can include problems other than bulimia and anorexia. Disordered eating may refer for example also to emotional or stressful eating and “you-you’ dieting.
As the “the size preference gap between what is being shown on the run ways and catwalks and what is reality for most women in America grows deeper and wider with each passing fashion year”, cycles of unhealthy fad dieting, starvation, laxative and diet pill abuse, you-to dieting. Over exercising, and other desperate measures to achieve the unobtainable goal and fit in the unrealistic and culturally imposed standards of beauty grow more problematic (Pratt, Pratt 67-68). The National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders estimate that one out of every four college-aged women is relying an unhealthy method to lose weight.
This often includes diet pills, which have become more easy to obtain over the years an can be now simply ordered online. For many of these affected individuals, concerns about appearance contribute to psychological difficulties such as depression and graver forms of eating disorders, which is disconcerting as these women have also the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. As noted by the National Institute of Mental Health, the morality rates associated with anorexia nervous are 12 times higher than the death rate for all other causes of death for females between the ages of 15 to 25 (Pratt, Pratt 68).
The anorexia antenna disorder occurs when people, especially women, tend to excessively worry about increasing their weight which ultimately leads to self starvation. Bulimia nervous is yet another eating disorder which is closely related to anorexia nervous. Bulimia nervous is characterized by binge eating which involves a situation where people overindulge in eating, only to punish themselves after through excessive exercise, vomiting and/or fasting.
The problems of anorexia and bulimia occur among people who are troubled with their images and wish to embrace any method that would help them reduce their weight. These individuals seek often to realize the ideal figure as observed in the media (Bryant, Peck 59). Of course, media images alone are not responsible for individual cases of anorexia or bulimia. Also, women do not become anorexic “on oppose” simply to comply with the specific standards of beauty observed in the media. The problem is much more complex.
Yet, when examined, each type of eating disorder can be traced back to the influence media exercises in females’ lives. Recent studies have for example demonstrated that many anorexic girls develop the disease after starting a diet in order to lose weight to look like an admired star or model. From then, these girls became addicted to the attention and envy that others endowed them with. Dieting is thus a gateway to anorexia nervous and bulimia (Silver 7). This conclusion is further confirmed by L.
K George Hush when he states: The evidence suggests an individual who embarks on a diet is more likely to develop an eating disorder if she is experiencing significant adolescent turmoil, has a low self-concept and body concept, and is having difficulty with identity formation (Silver 7). The discussion so far might appear to be biased against media. However, fore making this argument one should take into account that while cultural standards of beauty are conveyed through different channels, media remains the most effective in conveying one uniform message about the qualities needed to be deemed a beautiful woman by society.
It is not without reason that higher rates of eating disorders are reported in nations which adopt a slender and Western standard of beauty. The strength of media’s influence has been demonstrated in research where college women report greater pressure to be thin from the media than from their family or peers. Also, tidies conducted among college women have confirmed that negative self- evaluations and lower- self-esteem result from exposure to photographs Of think models.
In short, the thin idea of beauty and the stigma surrounding obesity in the media have created a culture where thinness is not only an indication of one’s outward beauty but also of one’s strength of character, success, and desirability. This makes thinness highly desired and often pursued (Snyder 265). The case of the famous model Kate Moss, and her effects on young women’s behavior, is probably the most suitable example to provide to underscore the aforementioned regarding media’s effects on women’s self- esteem and perception of their own beauty.
Photographs of Moss snorting cocaine became iconic of what models would do to stay awake, work, enhance their performance, and lose weight. As noted by the model Sophie Anderson, who dropped six and a half stone as a result of her addiction to cocaine, “The enormous pressures to Stay thin in the industry almost lend themselves to take a substance well known for suppressing appetite” (Independent News). The use of drugs by models to stay thin is however not the most shocking element in this scenario. What is disturbing is the use of drugs like cocaine by average women after the Moss incident to accomplish the ideal figure.
It is for example estimated in Britain that one in seven women use drugs like cocaine or speed in a desperate attempt to lose weight. Other rely on slimming pills or laxatives. The decision to use drugs to shed the pounds underscores the great obsession with thinness that has swept society due to the dominance of the image of the thin women in photographs, TV shows, movies, advertisements, and other media outlets (Hope). Women are thus held to impossible beauty standards in the media; tankards which in fact can be only achieved by a tiny minority of real, live women.
Yet, millions and millions of women torture themselves every day trying to achieve that perfect thin figure, not realizing in the process that even the women in the media who appear to conform to the standards are not presented to the viewer as they really look. Thanks to Photos, “those impossibly beautiful women really are impossibly beautiful” (Harding, Kirby). When they are finally included in the magazine, they have already had inches shaved off their thighs and arms, their necks lengthened, their laugh lines moved, their eyes enlarged, their breasts elevated, and their teeth extremely whitened, among others.
This is however generally overlooked by the average women who continue to judge herself by the impossible standards these “role models” propagate (Harding, Kirby). To understand the effects of the media on the self-confidence and self- esteem of women, especially young women, it is interesting to examine specific media coverage of the issue. An interesting example is “What a Girl Wants”, which documents, through the thoughts and feelings of eleven young girls, the impact of the media on their lives and development of their resonantly.
The great influence the media plays in the growth of their ideas, needs and ambitions becomes evident through their answers. Several examples are provided in the movie regarding the impact of movies, images and songs on their perception of their own beauty and therefore the consequent growth, or absence, of their self-esteem. This in turn plays a crucial role in the way the two sexes interact in addition to influencing the girls’ lifestyle, which includes their eating habits, their attitude towards cosmetic surgery, usage of make-up and decision to engage in sexual intercourse or even a relationship.
What a Girl Wants” illustrates how the media defines the notion of beauty itself and consequentially shapes the thoughts of young women about what they need to do, sacrifice or purchase in order to correspond more to the generally accepted idea about beauty. This does clearly enough play a crucial role in the growth of the self-confidence of girls from a young age. The research documented in the movie highlights for instance how 30% of nine year old girls are already concerned with their weight.
The girls themselves display signs of dissatisfaction with the extremity of thinness associated with tatty but oblige nevertheless and narrate stories of attempts to diet or concerns about their body. This deep concern with one’s external image from a young age impacts without doubt the eating habits of the girls and could lead to the development of eating disorders and problems in their interaction with the other sex- Joanna Popping draws more on the causes of eating disorders and their link to the problem of self-esteem and perception of one’s own beauty from a young age among females.
Her article “Number One Reason For Developing An Eating Disorder” highlights how neglecting one’s own boundaries during he early teen period could lead to the development of feelings of hopelessness and despair as a result of what she describes as a loss of creativity that inspires people to gain confidence in their own potential.
This relates also to the aforementioned movie’s idea of being mentally manipulated by the media to focus all the energy, from a disturbingly young age, on the achievement of unrealistic images of beauty leading with that to the dismissal Of what is personally important to embrace what is socially considered to be “cool”. A perfect example that sheds light on this is the ginning of “What a Girl Wants” that provides glimpses of the girls’ personal ambitions which revolve around a general desire to be famous and well-loved by a large mass of people.
Interestingly, each of the girls believes the road to accomplish this is to become like someone who is very thin: e. G, Christina Agiler, Andy Moore and Brittany Spears. This fascination with the glamorous and culturally commercialese aspects of pop culture could lead to an excessive focus, among young girls, on following what is considered good rather than listening to their inside voice and inner personal and unique desires and needs.
This is thus a cause of the development of eating disorders according to the aforementioned author. It is also the primary cause of the fascination with the material and the development of the consumer-culture in the United States; an idea that is referred to in the movie through the several examples provided of the stars’ contribution in popularizing a product among easily influenced young teenagers.
It is in this manner that the media manages to impact both the psychological development of this segment of the general public in addition to shaping their consumer behavior and beliefs of what they want or need erecting with that the course of their personal creativity and confidence in their potential as well as their overall role In society. Margaret L. Andersen’s Thinking about Women deals with similar topics.
The author’s concern with the contemporary problems of females sheds thus light on the way gender operates within society. The problems of self-esteem in the way topics as transgender identities or disability are handled among females is important to refer to as it illustrates again how the social perception of what is acceptable and beautiful could lead to the development of a rejection of one’s own true identity.
This problematic refusal to acknowledge who you really are, whether on a creative or sexual level, leads either to the already mentioned eating disorders and problems in gender interaction, or could also cause the development of an unhealthy growth of self-loathing as a result of an unhappiness with one’s own looks and physique when compared to the socially and culturally accepted version. Self- perception and self-respect and thus the love of one self is therefore directly and indirectly related to the role society plays in determining what is acceptable and what is not.
To consider the great role the media plays in the rumination of the socially acceptable is to link the whole discussion again to ‘What a Girl Wants” illustrating with that that the media plays and will continue to play a vital role in the lives of young girls in a generally negative manner that promotes more fear and lack of confidence than vice versa, impacting with that every aspect of their lives including their romantic relationships.
Regardless of the amount of research which has sought to underscore the link between media and women’s problems, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness with themselves today, most people believe that they are not influenced by he media. This fact is confirmed by studies conducted to investigate the subject. Yet, at the same time, according to the studies, these individuals believe others are influenced by the media. This perception is known among scholars as the third person effect.
The undeniable influence of media in persuasion and social critical theory which sheds light on a rich variety of persuasive techniques embedded in media advertising and communications, which combined shape the viewer or reader’s perception regarding a number of issues, including their own beauty and self-worth as individuals due to their secession, or lack of, thinness (Durham). In conclusion, it has become clear so far that the media exercises an undeniably strong influence on women’s perception of their own beauty.
This is only understandable given the prominent role that media plays in people’s lives on a daily basis. The effects of media’s beauty standards on women is most evident in the figures which underscore that as models and other type of celebrities got thinner over the years, average women grew heavier and college women and adolescent girls developed a variety of eating disorders ranging from bulimia, to anorexia, and you-you dieting. In a society where tatty is everything being perfect in every way like the celebrities seen in the media has become an overwhelming and psychologically stressful goal.
Women who pursue this goal often overlook the unrealistic aspects of it and the fact that even the stars they worship as perfect only appear as such after hours of work on their make-up and hair. Unusually, these stars’ pictures are also photo-shopped on magazines to conform to the ideal of female beauty. These negatively unrealistic standards of beauty in the media are affecting more women at younger ages, as is confirmed by the fact that girls as young as 9 years are dieting today.