Perception of beauty in the eyes of the media

Introduction
This is a research based on the perception of beauty that has been portrayed by the media and whether or not it is right - Perception of beauty in the eyes of the media introduction. In this proposal, the different views and opinions of different experts will be argued and the media’s idea of “perfection” will be questioned.

Another issue that would be touched on would be whether or not images of “perfection” is healthy to the mass audience who is on the end of receiving and how these images affects many people from adults to teenagers and even young kids of age 5-7.

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1.Personal experiences and perspective
The reason I chose this topic to write on is because this is a problem that has been around for a long time and I believe many of us are faced with the same issue of whether or not those images we have been made to believe are “ perfect”, is really perfect.

As a young girl myself, I have been faced with the same questions that many girls out there faces. It has been hard to accept how I look and the size I am because of the images the media has been feeding me with. Fitting into size S from a size L is no longer enough to keep me satisfied, I yearn to fit into clothes which are marked XS or size 2/4.

As a researcher, this topic has always been on the top of my list. I had always had a keen interest on why people are the way we are. Why we get so affected by the images we are shown and why we aim to be “picture perfect” when we are not. That is why I picked this topic to write and research about.

2.Research topic and field
My research topic is: The perception of beauty in the eyes of the media.

And the field that I am researching on is: Communications and media.

3.Locating research literature
My emphasis is based on past studies regarding similar issues. I did my
research on past journals and newspaper articles on this issue. What I did mainly was content analysis on media and communication based mostly on the stereotype of the “ideal image” that has been portrayed. It has been more of qualitative texts that I have gone through in the process of coming up with this research.

4.Literature review
The perception of beauty through the eyes of the media
Men and women these days face a lot of pressure to look good due to the images portrayed by the media. It has been found by Kirkwood (2005) that our culture has become so obsessed with “the image”, so much that if “the image” is right, reality does not matter.

The media has stereotyped “the image” of perfection by portraying images of men and women whose pictures have been edited to look flawless. Women who look like they are of size 0, or men who look like they have been living in a gym all their life. Stereotyping of “the image” has been caused by the media’s belief in the myths of how a person is supposed to look. It has been shown through the countless advertisements on television and magazines that perfection is only when one is able to look like the stars or models that are on the covers.

Swinson (2006) examined the image of beauty that has been shown to us by the media and advertisements. She presented a portfolio of 172 studies to the Advertising Standards Authority. Many of her studies showed that over a long run, viewing pictures of these “perfect” bodies would leads to severe pressures in adults and even children. One of her studies reported on girls aged 5 to 7 who, when exposed to images of thin dolls like Barbie, said they wanted to look thinner compared with those who saw dolls with a healthier body shape.

Regarding people who are unable to achieve “the image” due to time constrains or lack of motivation, they turn to unhealthy measures to try and attain these “desirable” bodies, which we beg to ask, is it the right way? Mcferran, Dahl, Fitzsimons and Morales (2010) examined how the body type of
consumers actually affects the consumption of food of the people around them. They have found that consumers base the quantity of food they order on the people around them, but these portions are adjusted according to the body type of the other person.

These images that have been implanted in our minds have led us to become judgemental of those around us, to the extent that we actually watch what people eat and judge them on it due to the size that they are. Many people’s perception of themselves’ is out of touch with reality, because they choose to see what they believe was there and not to see what truly is there (Kirkwood, 2005). Has the media brainwashed us to not be able to see what we truly are? And only to see what they want us to see? Demuth, Czerniak, Krzykala and Ziółkowska-Łajp (2012) did a study which compared the subjective body image of middle-aged men and women with regards to their traits and physical activity. They found that 1) Women estimated their own bodies more critically than men. 2) Women with higher body mass and longer waist circumferences had a higher level of negative body perception, but not men. 3) Physically active men had more positive perception of their own bodies, but not so for most women. The question that we face now is whether or not these perfect images of models and stars we see are the reality of what is going on behind the scenes. Are the images that are shown to us the truth? If not, why do we aim to become like them? In August 2006, Teenage model Luisel Ramos died in Uruguay after resorting to a diet of lettuce leaves and Diet Coke. In November 2006, model Ana Carolina Reston – weighing only 88 pounds – died in Brazil (Gates, 2008). Wanting to look like the ideal image that has been portrayed to us has been proven to not be healthy.

Some people blame their size on genetics, some blame it on upbringing. Liechty and Zabriskie (2006) examined the relationships among body image, beliefs about appearance. They used sample of 116 female students and 76 of their mothers. The findings suggested that the mothers’ body image and beliefs about appearance were related to their daughters’ beliefs about appearance.

These days, beauty as a social issue has raised some very intriguing
questions for researchers in advertising and consumer aesthetics. While many see little evidence or use of beauty in art, something intended to be understood as “beauty” is being represented by advertisers in the media. This thing called “beauty” is being produced by advertisers and consumed by society in large quantities via the mass media, mostly in television and magazines. For example, upon the covers and in the pages of women’s and fashion magazines are faces and individuals intended to be understood as possessing beauty, in some manner (Vacker, 1993).

Are these representations really “beauty” or are they ideals which are impossible to be attained (Vacker, 1993)? These representations of “beauty” have led to many disturbing illnesses amongst many, including the models who portrays these images to us. Teenagers model themselves after unrealistic goals and strive for the perfect body by using unhealthy tactics. There are many studies which links fashion magazine reading to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia (Turner, 2010). Bulimia is one of the most common eating disorder making up about 40% of clinical cases and it is as severe as anorexia. But because most bulimics are above a BMI of 18 and bulimia is easier to hide, it is not as easy to detect as compared to anorexia (Gates, 2005).

In a study to help women see how beautiful they actually are, Dove organised for a former forensic artist from the San Jose police department, who met a series of women and asked each to describe the way they look. He had no way of seeing them behind a curtain. He then prompted them to detail everything about themselves and sketched an image of them based on their self-description. Each woman was asked before the study to get to know one of the other participants. The forensic artist then prompted each woman to describe the other’s face. When the sketches were compared side by side, it was found that women often critic themselves and make themselves out to be less beautiful than they really are ( Murphy, 2013).

It has been found that there is a need to make people realise that healthy bodies are ideal, and that good health is not defined by size; it is a state of physical, mental and social well-being (Kirkwood, 2005). The media is
sending too many messages to teenagers to change their body appearance, which causes widespread low self-esteem. More positive images of more realistic body types should be present in the media (Turner, 2010).

It has been said by Middleton (2013), “Why are we allowing advertisers and mass media to define beauty?” Our value as human beings has got nothing to do with how we look. Each of us can help to push back against these social pressures by teaching that the altered pictures of people in magazines make us long for what is unattainable. Although it may be true that these images makes us feel like we are never going to be “perfect” enough to fit in, we should never forget that these images are images of people who are going through illness and unhappiness to look good and make us feel bad.

5.Research hypothesis
The perception of beauty in the eyes of the media is attaining a form of “perfection”. However, the ways to attain this sort of “perfection” has proven to be harmful and unhealthy. Therefore, the media has been proven to be misguiding many individuals that such a form of “perfection” is beauty.

6.Research purpose and audience
The purpose of this reason explanatory, it shows us why the media is wrong is its perception of beauty. The final audience this proposal is for would be for people who feel that the media’s perception of beauty is right. This proposal has everything to show any individual that “perfection and beauty” lies in the eye of its beholder and that the media has no say in deciding who is perfect and who is not.

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