The Media’s Definition of Female Beauty
Advertisements are the most influential media in our world. They shape our ideas and affect our look and behavior. People look at pictures and tend to mimic what they see. Nowadays, advertisements depict women in a passive/submissive, almost childlike manner. This implies that women are subdued, that they need to be controlled and dominated. Or that they are not beautiful unless they resemble the models. In other words, fat, short, stubby, too tall, too skinny, different ethnicity is not attractive.
Entering into adolescence can be one of the most stressful times in one’s lifetime. This is a time when they begin to discover who they are. They are becoming more independent and are establishing friendships. Venturing into the teenage years can be a very emotional, stressful, confusing time. By no means is it easier for males than females, though females tend to be bombarded with “perfection imagery” more so than males. Some make the change from childhood into adolescence with only a few minor problems, others however, may have a more difficult time handling the pressures and some look to our culture as an example. Many fear the weight that is gained during this time is permanent, will panic, and desperately try to take the weight off. Our culture portrays this excess weight as unattractive and in some cases, disgusting, leading to low self-esteem. They are not aware that once the physical changes during this time cease, their weight will usually stable off and will maintain their body’s natural set point. Once they start losing weight, they feel better, as if they are conforming to society’s set pattern. Complements and acceptance once not received can fuel the drive to look like the face in the magazine.
Teenagers are under a lot of pressure to succeed and fit in. Many spend a lot of time worrying about what others think and they desperately try to conform to society’s unattainable “ideal” body image. They are lead to believe that if they are thin, they will be accepted. Since many teenagers are constantly buying teen or fashion magazines, the images of emaciated models appearing in those magazines only reinforces their belief that in order to be happy, successful and accepted, they must be thin. Television shows like Beverly Hills 90210 also leads them to believe that they must be thin. They watch these shows all the time and many will do anything to try and look like the actresses on these shows. Many teenagers need a role model and someone to look up to. Unfortunately, too many of them choose fashion models or actresses as their role models, they paste pictures of them all over their rooms, and some will resort to dangerous methods of weight control to try and look like their idols. Can we honestly keep telling ourselves that these young women are not products of their environments? Our modern culture minimally addresses this issue using the defense that “beauty sells.” Once again we are faced with the paradox that beauty is portrayed and perverted by modern media.
We need to teach our teenagers that the images they face everyday, whether it is in television, film, or print are not the norm. If they are happy with themselves and love who they are, they will be less likely to try and attain society’s unattainable “ideal” body image, because they will accept their bodies just the way they are.