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Body Image Standards

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    Perhaps no time in history have body image standards had such an enormous

    impact on society. With today’s mass media people can be subjected to thousands of

    images and messages daily, portraying the “ideal” body image. The people most often

    portrayed and effected by these messages are young women. Females can feel constant

    pressure to live up to these ideals which are most often unattainable. This pressure can

    cause detrimental physical and mental states.

    To fully understand this problem we must first ask ourselves, “Why?” Why has

    the female body been pushed to the forefront of society and media? It is undeniable that

    it is merely a marketing ploy. The beauty sector is a multibillion dollar a year industry.

    Companies such as Revlon, Cover Girl, Maybelline, L’Oreal insist that girls must look a

    certain way if they want to be anything. These corporations are only concerned with the

    bottom line. They take no responsibility for the negative image that they portray, in fact,

    that is what they thrive on. The worse self-image a woman has, the more beauty products

    she will buy to try and “improve” her looks. And there is no better way to make her think

    she is ugly than to subject her to thousands of unrealistic, airbrushed pictures of models

    to compare herself to. This way of thinking is further drilled into the female mind

    through women’s magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Vogue and so on. Never do you find

    an article entitled “Big is Beautiful”. More often you will find “How to lose 20 lb.. so

    your man will love you!” sprawled across the cover of the latest issue. Occasionally

    magazines will run a heart touching article about an ex-models fight with bulimia. They

    will often forget to mention, however, that the same model was portrayed as the pinnacle

    of health and beauty on the cover of last years April issue.

    The beauty industry and magazines are not the sole cause of the problem though,

    there is plenty of blame to go around. And so we look to Hollywood. The cardinal rule

    in movies and television: sex sells. When you tune into to watch Friends on Thursday

    night you will not see one leading lady (or any ladies for that matter) with a waist over

    size six. The only “imperfect” characters in the show are the “fat ugly guy and fat ugly

    lady” who live across the street and are the objects of constant ridicule. The same can be

    said for virtually all mainstream shows on television. It is a constant barrage of beautiful

    people that viewers are being exposed to. And, unfortunately, it is becoming accepted

    that society should look like TV. There is essentially no one in this medium saying that it

    is okay to be yourself, to look how you look and feel good about yourself at the same

    What are the effects of all this? Major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, social

    phobia, body dysmorphic disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa to name a few.

    The impact that today’s body image standard is having on women is immeasurable.

    Eating disorders and low self esteem are at an all-time high. The problem isn’t getting

    better either, in fact it’s getting worse. Girls are now being reached by these messages

    earlier in life. The younger they are, the more susceptive to the image they are. Women

    are essentially growing up from birth with this unrealistic image of what they should look

    like embedded into their minds. The evidence is in the fact that every year cases of

    anorexia and bulimia are occurring among in younger and younger girls.

    The number of women effected by these disorders may never be known. Most

    will never come forward and seek treatment, and many will die as a result. What society

    must do is tell the beauty industry, tell the magazines, and tell Hollywood that what they

    are doing is not acceptable. The image they portray is unrealistic, unhealthy, and

    irresponsible. There seems to be little hope though. It is unlikely that the beauty industry

    will loosen its grip on the minds of women and not try so hard to make them think

    they’re ugly. That would of course hurt sales and cause them to make only hundreds of

    millions instead of billions. It is also improbable that Hollywood will break perhaps its

    only rule, because that too would disrupt the bottom line. So, for the time being anyway,

    we are a society being told how to look, and trying to live up to an impossible standard.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Body Image Standards. (2018, Jun 21). Retrieved from

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