Womens Beauty Essay

Women’s Beauty
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In the eyes of society, women like Pamela
Anderson, Tyra Banks and Carmen Electra are the epitome of perfection. What girl
would not want to look like them? Unfortunately, a number of girls want to be
just like them. Every year, millions of people are hurting themselves trying to
be carbon copies of these sex symbols. The media presents society with
unrealistic body types promoting people, especially women, to look like them.

Through TV shows, commercials, magazines or any form of advertising, the media
enforces a certain body type which women emulate. The so-called perfect body
type causes many negative effects on women in the US. Women who focus on
unrealistic body images tend to have lower self-esteem and are more likely to
fall prey to eating disorders. The media has a dangerous influence on women’s
health in the United States. The media is a primary factor in the development
and maintenance of women’s body image problems. Women start to feel insecure
about their bodies by looking at media images. This would not be such a problem
if these images were not reinforced daily. This provokes women to diet more
because they feel more pressure to be slim. “But advertisers are not
particularly wicked people who set out to delude and mislead us. They simply
provide images that we find seductive. Advertisers are the voice of society
projected on a billboard or a TV screen” (Buckroyd 52). The magazine racks
in any local store are saturated with magazines highlighting beautiful women
adorning the covers. Commercials on TV feature tall, thin women promoting a
certain product. The media presents and unrealistic body type for girls to look
up to. They do not reflect on images from everyday life. When walking around in
any place, very few people look like the women in commercials, most of them
thin, but not overly so. Because flawless images appear so often in daily life,
its hard to remember their not real and often many girls don’t. They hold
themselves up to these images and feel the only was they can live life to its
fullest is to look like these people. Even if someone as at their perfect
weight, it’s easy to feel like a failure when comparing to a movie star or to
Seventeen’s cover girl. The line between fantasy and reality is skewed by mass
media. The media places much stress on obtaining the so-called body image.

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Society pays a significant amount of attention to body image, physical
attractiveness, youthfulness, sexuality and appearance. “The minimum
requirement for the sort of model who appears on advertising hoarding is a
height of 5 ft 9 in and a size 8 to 10″ (Buckroyd 55). No matter how hard
someone tries, they will never achieve the look and figure of the supermodels.

“The problem of girls and women comparing themselves to ‘ideal women’ has
gotten more difficult in recent years. A look at the measurement of Playboy
centerfolds and Miss America finalists over the past 20 years shows that,
although these women symbolize beauty have been weighing less and less. In other
words, society’s ideal women keeps getting thinner and thinner and much more
difficult for people to imitate” (Maloney 2). There is a right way for the
female body to look and that way is thin. “But what we see on television is
a special kind of thin. Most of us could starve our selves down to slivers and
still not look anything like those sleek bodies that flit across our screen day
and night” (Valette 4). “You can’t get away from TV, it’s
everywhere” (Brew I). Leading characters in the current crop of TV shows
are all thin. The TV shows with the highest ratings, such as Friends and Ally
McBeal, have tall thin lead actresses. In Friends, there are three young, tall,
and thin leads. They are outfitted in tight shirts and mini-skirts. They all
live good lives and have fun. In Ally McBeal, Ally is played by a young tall and
extremely thin actress. She plays a successful lawyer. The message that this is
sending across is that the key to success in today’s society is to be young,
tall and thin. Characters that are heavier are usually elderly , matronly, in
low-status occupation or on the wrong side of the law. In the TV show Roseanne,
she played an overweight mother of a low-income family. The show related with a
lot more people, but the message was fat people can’t be successful. The media
biggest target is children. They are young and easily influenced. “Oh,
nobody takes stuff on television that seriously”, (Valette 31). But
psychologists who study the effects of television on children’s learning do not
agree. The have shown that television images have a unique power to mold
children’s attitudes. “These attitudes are established at a very early age
in America. Preschoolers who are given a choice of thin dolls or chubby ones
tend to choose the thin ones. By the second grade, youngster describe overweight
classmates as ‘lazy’ and ‘stupid,’ even though these labels and inaccurate and
unfair” (Erlanger 5). Consciousness about body image can start as early as
six. Children look at TV characters as what society expects of them. Through
television images, they can already start to stereotype if heavy people are seen
in low-class or low comedy roles, children will look down upon them; if thin
people show up in high roles, children assume that they play and important role
in society. “Television is the most powerful communication medium in our
whole visually oriented society” (Valette 32). Hollywood makes people feel
inadequate if our bodies aren’t like the ones seen in movies. “Stars have
personal trainers, stylists, make-up artists and people to airbrush the wrinkles
and cellulite out of their magazine covers – all of whom create an image that is
meant to be frozen in a photograph or presented in a two-hour snippet”
(Brew I). The bodies we see on TV are perfect. They are bodies of athletes,
models, and weight trainers. These people keep themselves in showroom condition
all the time and are expected too. For example, Pamela Anderson’s contract for
Baywatch strictly forbade her to gain weight. She had a fitness regimen, even
during non-working months. “Anderson keeps to a rigorous program of 25-mile
mountain bike rides or one to two hour athletic walks, plus 50 lap pool swims or
more strenuous ocean swims” (Zimmerman I). Pamela Anderson isn’t the only
one with such a vigorous routine, other stars have followed the trend too.

“The REDBOOK article ‘Take it off like a star’ described Oprah Winfrey as
having ‘a maniac exercise routine’ that includes two daily four mile runs, plus
45 minutes on the Stairmaster and 350 sit-ups. Bette Midler reportedly eats
nothing but vegatable;es after 5:00 pm. Demi Moore’s workout ‘stresses
cross-training: road cycling, ocean and river kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking,m
skiing, plus daily-weight lifting’ She also has a live-in nutritionist/cook and
a personal trainer” Zimmerman I). No one realistically is supposed to go to
those lengths to keep themselves in shape or look like them; their body image is
unrealistic to attain. “We pore over magazines that show us the newest
fashions in tandem with articles detailing how to hide your figure flaws”
(Brew I). Magazines have no mercy on teens. “I’ve always found it
fascinating that some of the loudest voices touting the ‘super thin equals sexy’
message comes from magazines written for pre-pubescent girls and teenagers”
(Zimmerman I). For generations magazines encourage dieting and worrying about
weight. “In the 1960’s MADEMOISELLE and SEVENTEEN magazines became
saturated with columns and features with diet strategies and exercise habits of
models– a practice that still continues to this day” (Jill I). Magazine
covers display pictures of men and women whose images are offered as near
perfection in society’s consensus. People are drawn to magazines with
weight-loss exercise articles. Women’s magazines contain 10.5 times more
advertisements prompting weight loss than men. In 1992, there was rise in eating
disorders and advertisements promoting weight loss in in women’s magazines Body
image has certainly changed over the decades. In the twenties, the tubular
“flapper” body was the feminine ideal. “Big-breasted, curvaceous
women like Marilyn Monroe and Doris Day were certainly idolized in the fifties
as epitomes of sexiness and cuteness, but the ideal mother and housewife was not
expected to look like Marilyn; the more fashionable attractive women was
supposed to be more Audrey Hepburn-esque in physique” (Zimmerman I). In the
sixties, British model Twiggy set the standard for British models. She was the
icon of Mod at five feet, six inches, and 89 pounds. The media keeps dispenses
these images, but they don’t realize the negative effects its causes on women
and girls. “Time and time again, I hear this confession in he conversations
i have with young women. They want to look good in a bathing suit. They want a
tight butt. They go on diets and work out everyday. They’re never thin enough,
so they go to unnatural extremes. All they want to do is feel good about
themselves in a sea of doubt and turmoil encouraged by a
multi-billion-dollar-a-year beauty industry” Zimmerman I). Women feel they
must look like supermodels in order to be accepted in today’s society. “And
they think the panacea is to look like a supermodel: perfectly thin, tall,
sculpted and commanding– our cultural epitome of feminine success”
(Zimmerman I). All this can happen from just seeing a billboard or a couple of
commercials. These media images make women feel less about themselves, they want
to look like supermodels: tall, thin, sculpted. “I like the sweater on this
model and she’s not a supermodel.She doesn’t starve herself, you can just tell
I’d be happy with that, That should be the kind of model that people should put
in magazines, because its just getting out of hand with people not eating. The
models aren’t eating and girls look at them and think. “look how pretty
they are. Look how skinny they are. Maybe if i don’t eat and ill wear those
clothes, I’ll look like just like them. Girls won’t’ eat then they make
themselves throw up” (Neumark I). They have low self esteems and feel this
is the only way to be accepted into today’s society. This often causes eating
disorders. “A person who has an eating disorder is someone who uses food to
work out her emotional problems” (Maloney 3). Instead of expressing
feelings a person with an eating disorder thinks the only thing that will help
them is eating. “Someone with an eating disorder is addicted to food or
dieting, like and alcoholic is addicted to liquor or a drug addict to
drugs” (Maloney 3). Food becomes their whole life. “Anorexia has been
known and recognized by doctors for at least 300 years. Initially the
characteristic that was described was the striking weight loss and emaciation
resulting from failure to eat. There are, however, a number of organic illnesses
that result in loss of appetite and consequent weight loss, and so from the late
19th century doctors tried to describe more exactly what anorexia was and began
to exclude organic causes and to identify it as a psychological illness.” (Buckroyd
3). Girls suffering from anorexia show a refusal to maintain body weight over a
minimal normal weight for age and height. They are disturbed by their body image
and are always claiming to “feel fat”. They have intense fear of
gaining weight. (Buckroyd 4) Bulimia is another psychological illness similar to
anorexia. It is the practice of consuming enormous amounts of food then throwing
them up to avoid weight gain. Girls suffering from bulimia have recurrent
episodes of binge eating and regularly engage in self-induced vomiting an
average of 2 times a week. (Buckroyd 21)These girls have a persistent
overconcern with body shape and weight. (Buckroyd 21) Some characteristics that
may occur with bulimia are damage to tooth enamel, digestive disorders,
irritation of throat and mouth, mineral imbalance, loneliness, social isolation,
low self esteem, shame and self disgust. (Buckroyd 21) Today’s culture places
great emphasis on outward appearances. Society is very weight-concious, and the
value placed on thinness has grown in recent decades. Admiration goes to people
who are thin and heartlessness goes to the obese. The media should give us a
more realistic body type for girls and women to look up to. “But how do
work on our self-image? How do we change our thinking and feeling habits in
order to unite our various parts and neutralize the negativity that out culture
blasts our way via the media? Unfortunately, we can’t wave a magic wand to make
our culture more sensitive to our needs. But we can change our attitudes: we can
refuse to take the media so seriously and we can challenge the images and their
devaluing messages. The only way our culture will change is if we stop believing
in the social attitudes which make us fell not good enough and start believing
in ourselves and our right to OUR individual body– even if it isn’t a body type
currently worshipped as fashionable” (Zimmerman I).


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