We all recognize that the physical appearance of a person can affect her/his social or economic success in life. What is of major concern is the preoccupation with physical attractiveness and the questionable medical necessity of cosmetic surgery. The glamour for more regulation for cosmetic procedures, whether performed by medically qualified personnel or otherwise, need to be tempered by the public demand for freedom and self-expression. 5,16 Women, who are the major targets of endless efforts by the beauty, cosmetic and fashion industries, need not fall into the traps set by the sophisticated advertisements. Females should develop a more enlightened understanding of beauty and health by resisting the persuasive advertisements solely designed to stimulate consumption of the products they represent. To become discerning users of the information doled out by the mass media, they need to distinguish between sublimed advertisements that sometime camouflage as public education.
Television, as the dominant form of mass media, can and should provide a more balanced views concerning beauty and health. There Is currently under-representation of women in health campaigns shown on the television, thus perpetuating the misinformation that health problems are only prevalent in men. Documentary films projecting a positive aspects of health and a more culturally sensitive view of physical beauty are sorely needed. The potential health risks of beauty products and procedure are not well publicized.
On the other hand, many females prefer the quick route to weight loss by consuming slimming products rather than taking care of their diet or engage In more physical activity. For the obese, an appropriate level of body weight concern Is actually useful but preoccupation with body Image can be unhealthy In normal weight adolescent girls. In this regard, magazines targeting at this Impressionable group should not go overboard In giving Information on health, health risks, and health-related products. 7 Health education Is a life-long process, It Is therefore crucial that It should be started early In life. How can we as parents and concerned member of the community encourage a positive regard for health and beauty, In particular for the girls as they grow up to be women? There Is a dearth of publication that takes Into account our cultural context. More research should be done regarding how television and advertising are shaping opinions of the viewers and consumers, especially In relation to health and beauty.