American society, most commonly women within the United States, have a rather unhealthy obsession with their personal looks, the physical strive and determination to be acceptingly beautiful, and the idea of looking as flawless as humanly possible.
The common perception of beauty is falsely created for women to believe that the ultimate ‘perfect’ image is obtainable. However, it is indeed an impossible standard for most women in American society today. This idea of impossible ‘perfection’ is mostly driven by the beauty industry who work to sell their products to those women who are insecure about their image. The media alone is at war with body image. Women in today’s society are viewed as being digitally transformed, airbrushed, surgically improved, or suffering from various different eating disorders. These are just a few of the many different difficulties facing women in American society today due to the largely exaggerated media influence.
Teenaged girls especially learn what society considers an ideal physical appearance generally from the media and the images that they are crowded with in magazines, movies, television, and also in music which in turn manipulates what is truly fashionable and attractive. Recent studies have found that “by the time a women is seventeen years old, she has received overs 250,000 commercial messages through the media.” (“Body Image and Advertising”, 2000) Women tend to see multiple different images throughout their lives which impacts the ways they think of themselves and their own self-worth within American society. “Today, models weigh about 23 percent less than the average woman.” (“Weighty Matters”, 2007) “According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the average American model is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 117 pounds. The average American woman is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds.” (“Body Image: Loving Your Body”, n.d.)
“All too often, American society associates being “thin” with “hardworking”, “beautiful”, “strong”, and “self-disciplined”. On the other hand however, being “fat” is usually associated with being “lazy”, “ugly”, “weak” and “lacking willpower.” (“Body Image: Loving Your Body”, n.d.) Similarly to this idea, “a life-sized Barbie doll would measure a thirty-eight-inch bust, eighteen-inch waist, and thirty-four-inch hips.” (Ojeda, 2003, p.14) “The average American woman measures a thirty-seven-inch bust, a twenty-nine-inch waist, and forty-inch hips.” (McDowell, 2006, p.48) What is the media trying to teach women within the American society? Some critics in the American society believe that the unrealistic ideas of physical looks and personal flaws may cause young children to face insecurities and lead to poor health choices later on in life.
What most people don’t realize is that every image of a model or actress in a fashion or beauty magazine has been touched up using the latest computer enhanced technology to remove flaws that are most commonly faced by women including pimples, bumps, stretch marks, wrinkles, and various other different imperfections. Advertisements emphasize thinness as a standard for female beauty, and the bodies seen in the media are frequently not typically normal, healthy women. In fact, “69 percent of girls in one study said that magazine models influence their idea of the perfect body shape”, and the acceptance of this impractical body type forms an obtainability that is rather unrealistic for virtually all women in society today. (“Body Image and Advertising: A Thin Ideal”, 2008) This concept pushes forth the idea of vast concern for the rise in eating disorders and other topic related areas. Many Americans attribute eating disorders to society as a whole.
Hollywood and the media demand an impossible standard of thinness, and young people feel that in order to be attractive to those around them, they have to look like celebrities in the spotlight which is what many media outlets are influencing generation after generation with. “With approximately six billion people in the world, and ten million of them suffering with some type of disordered eating, the media obviously doesn’t cause everyone to develop anorexia, bulimia, or compulsive overeating. Current statistics have indicated that approximately one in every one hundred teenage girls may develop an eating disorder.” (Re: “What Are the Causes of Eating Disorders”, Pitso, 2008)
Diet advertisements are also another source of problems. Whether it be on television, in health journals, magazines, newspapers, and other media sources, society is continuously influenced with the concept that losing weight will make an individual more confident and reliable to stick to a specific diet plan. Often times, many Americans are persuaded with the idea that by sticking with a certain diet plan, individual success is a guarantee however, it has been proven through various different general studies and statistics that most diet plans do not indeed show results or in many cases do not even work. As long as society continues to buy into diet companies and their fabricated claims by purchasing these products, the more the diet industry will keep pushing forth their mottos on American consumers.
With a distorted view of foods role in life, some teenagers mistakenly expect that losing weight will make everything in an individual’s life better and more sufficient. People naturally have different shapes and body types. There are a numerous variations in height, skin tone, eye color, hair color, height, weight and other physical features which make up the incredibly large diversity of America. The millions of messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tell “ordinary” people that they are always in need of adjustments, that that the female body is an object to be perfected.
“Researchers report that women’s magazines have ten and one-half times more ads and articles promoting weight loss than men’s magazines do, and over three-quarters of the covers of women’s magazines include at least one message about how to change bodily appearance, whether it be for dieting, exercising or cosmetic surgery.” (“Beauty and Body Image in the Media”, 2010) Even the average woman is said to fit into anywhere between sizes ten and above, whereas the average model fits into a size two or three.
Knowing that today’s ideal body is another passing trend does not lessen the desire teenage girls and younger adult woman have to adhere to the current ideal and be considered attractive. “However, it is important to remember that the current standard of extreme thinness is unrealistic and impossible for most women to achieve.” (Ojeda, 2003, p.16) “In 2003, Teen Magazine reported that approximately 90 percent of women are dissatisfied with their appearance in some shape or form.” (“Women’s Body Image in Canada and the Facts”, 2008-2010) Rather than striving for the ideal image, keeping the body healthy by exercising regularly on a routine basis and eating nutritious food is beneficial in more ways than one and create strong and fit lifestyle habits for the majority of women in American society today. Naturally, “feeling healthy can boost your self-esteem and your body image.” (Ojeda, 2003, p.16)
In today’s society, the problem that we, as Americans, are faced with is rather complicated and as a result, there are no real easy solutions. Many individuals tend to lean towards a more active approach mostly by watching out for themselves and being conscious of what is going on in the media however, taking appropriate responsibility for one’s self and limiting the exposure of the vast media will propose a healthier lifestyle. Distorted and unattainable images are the inevitable consequences of a social system that face many downfalls. As a society, Americans have created an environment so obsessed with the bodily image that those with power give approval for being thin and disapproval of being fat, creating a generation of individuals so self-conscious about their bodies that it in turn most often, negatively affects their health. Everywhere an individual looks, this situation seems to be a fab that one cannot get away from, the concept it simply too overpowering.
Today’s pretty faces represent a new kind of people, female figures and displays in stores are revealed with a large amount of sex appeal. With a stressed importance on the ideas of absolute beauty and flawlessness, television commercials, magazines, billboards, and various other mass media sources across the country are just a small, insignificant consideration and excuse of just how warped American society’s view is of beauty and real body image. “According to the narrow minded society in which Americans live, there just doesn’t seem to be a limit on how beautiful an individual can become, especially for women. Most of us are aware of our society’s emphasis on the importance of appearance, and we know what the socially sanctioned standards of beauty are. But not all of us accept or ‘internalise’ these standards:
strong-minded individuals who reject current standards are more likely to have a positive body-image.” (“Mirror, Mirror”, 1997)