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Media Without Make Up

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Submitted By aylinleyla
Words 2942
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The Media: Without Make Up
On December 4, 2012, 10.3 million people impatiently gathered together to watch a very important event aired on CBS. Were 10.3 million people participating in a revolutionary debate? Or were they watching Obama give a speech about the progress of a ten-year fiasco in Afghanistan? Neither, in fact they we were gathering together to watch the 2011-2012 Victoria Secret Fashion Show. The sixth floor lounge of Day Hall, here at Syracuse University, was packed with girls ready to watch rail-thin models strut down the runway, as they eat away the pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Facebook and Twitter had millions of people updating their status about this worldwide-recognized show. Such as, “Not eating for the rest of the week,” “She is not real, how is she so perfect?” or sarcastic comments such as “I’m glad I look exactly like all those Victoria Secret models” (Profitable Objectification). This show is a perfect example of how the media negatively affects our society. Not only does the Victoria Secret Fashion show cause women to question their beauty, but it also instills unrealistic expectations of what women should look like to all the men.
The media has a great influence on our view of beauty and has created a false perception of what females should look like. This has made it difficult for anyone that does not fit this ‘ideal’ body to accept themselves the way they are. Celebrities and models have become a representation of the ‘perfect’ body image that our society emulates. The negative affects of media today on our image of beauty are often underestimated; this false perception causes females to feel self conscious and more dissatisfied with their weight and appearance. The media has distorted the definition of beauty and the ‘perfect’ body image; which causes women serious health problems concerning their weight.
The definition of beauty and the body image that is idolized has revolutionized and continues to do so. Despite these negative influences, there are campaigns that have goals to help girls and young women widen the definition of beauty, one of many examples being the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.
Throughout history, the standard of female beauty has been unrealistic and difficult to attain. People with high socioeconomic status’ and those who were wealthy had a higher capability to conform to these standards, and to this day this is still true. Women typically were willing to forgo comfort and even tolerate pain to achieve them. The definition of beauty has revolutionized simultaneously with the world of beauty. During colonial times, society valued fertile, physically strong and able women because of their harsh environment and lack of comfortable surroundings. However, once the 19th century started, beauty began its journey to conform to what it is today. Standards shifted and women with tiny waists and large bustles came to be idolized. The AP Psychiatry online article states that it was desirable for an upper-class man to be able to span a woman’s waist with his hands. Women with the financial stability would have their ribs removed to decrease their waist size. This caused several health problems such as shortness of breath and dislocated visceral organs, which is why corsets became the “height of fashion.” “Some have said that the invention of the corset was the main impetus for the feminist movement at the beginning of the 20th century. Women turned up their noses at complicated dresses, instead favoring pants, which were comfortable and did not restrict movement. They cut their hair short, bound their breasts, took up cigarette smoking, and fought for the right to vote. At this point, it was fashionable to be angular, thin, and boyish-looking, and manufacturers routinely featured pictures of “flappers” in their advertisements” (Psychiatry Online).
Yet again, standards for beauty changed during World War II. Because spouses were overseas, therefore young women went to work so that industry could thrive. Some women even formed professional sports teams. Again, society valued competent, strong, and physically able women. After the war ended, societies standards changed again. When the men were home, cultural values shifted with greater emphasis on gender roles and traditional family. This time of period became known as the Baby Boom era, which altered the population to favor more curvaceous bodies, for example Marilyn Monroe’s (Psychiatry Online).
In the article “Body Image, Media and Eating Disorders,” written by Jennifer L. Derenne and Eugene V. Beresin, it states that there is a big gap between the average women and super model measurements. Twenty-five years ago, the average fashion model was 8% thinner than the average woman. Shockingly, today that number has rise to 23%, likely reflecting a combination of rising obesity rates in the general population and progressively thinner ideals. The average U.S. woman is 5’4” and weighs an average of 140 pounds; as oppose to the average U.S. model whose height is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds (Psychiatry Online).
An average women’s body image is not fully represented by many forms of media. The media has been displaying beauty thinner and thinner as the days go on. There are many forms of media that have molded our perception of beauty to a stereotypical and unrealistic body image, such as magazines, toy manufacturers, and TV shows. The current media culture is complex and manipulative. Women are told that they can and should “have it all.” Martha Stewart tells women how to have the perfect family, career, and home. The media inundates women with messages as to what is sexy, beautiful, perfect, or the type of role model. The celebrities that are used to define beauty are no less susceptible to eating disorders than the rest of the population. For example, Mary-Kate Olsen was hospitalized with anorexia nervosa. The media has also speculated frequently about the health issues of celebrities Lindsey Lohan and Nicole Richie. Women in our society today are faced with unrealistic expectations every time they open a magazine because of the increased availability of plastic surgery. Celebrities have conformed their body with plastic surgery to make it as close to “perfection.” Although it is unrealistic for a rail-thin woman to have natural DD-cup size breasts, toy manufacturers set this expectation by developing and advertising the Barbie doll. It is difficult to disregard the superficial and unrealistic thoughts of a perfect body and lifestyle, when in reality we are thrown into a bubble that consists of role models, for instance Barbie, that portray this message at such a young age.
If one analyzes the effects of the media, and thinks out of the bubble, they will realize that the affect of the media begins at early ages. There have been several studies on the influence of the media on children, and a number of studies have established that children exposed to excessive TV viewing, magazines, and movies are at higher risk of obesity. According to a study from the University of Central Florida, nearly 50% of girls aged three to six were already concerned about their weight (Eating Disorders and Media Influence - Body Image from Anorexia Celebrities to Athletes - Rader Programs). TV exposure independently increases the odds of overweight issues by 50% for both genders. Specifically the exposure to soap operas, movies, and music videos is correlated with negative body image and drive for thinness (Psychiatry Online).
Health and fitness magazines are another form of media that is deceiving to the public because even these magazines are not above scrutiny. There are several articles published online and in magazines that tout the importance of moderate diet and exercise, none the less are filled with advertisements for appetite suppressants and diet supplements. The multibillion-dollar diet industry and the media go hand in hand to give women the message that they are not pretty enough or thin enough. Television shows that feature plastic surgery and major makeovers, such as “The Swan” and “Dr. 90210,” continue to feature impossibly thin actors in lead roles. These more recently aired shows have been criticized for promoting unhealthy body image. In the show “The Swan,” young women are separated from family and friends for a substantial period of time to undergo a rigorous diet and exercise plan. Not only do these young women experience intensive physical hardships, however they have stylists recommend changes to their hair and plastic surgeons perform breast augmentation, facelifts, and Botox and collagen injections. The end results of these major make over’s are showcased in a beauty pageant, where once an “ugly duckling” competes other candidates for the title of “The Swan”. It is inevitable for shows such as these to not affect one’s health, both physically and mentally.
“Our nation’s health has reached a point of crisis. According to the American Obesity Association, 65% of adults and 30% of children are overweight, and 30% of adults and 15% of children meet the criteria for obesity. Rarely playing outdoors, children spend their days chatting online or watching TV while snacking on nutritionally empty foods. The average child spends 4 hours per day watching TV, and only 1 hour per day completing homework. Similarly, the adult workplace has become more and more sedentary” (Psychiatry Online). Simultaneously, the rate of some eating disorders in women, such as anorexia and bulimia are on the rise, and increasing numbers of men are seeking treatment as well. Patients diagnosed with these eating disorders are progressively younger ages. There is a significant dichotomy between society’s idealized rail-thin figure and the more typical American body; a reason for this involves the interplay of media pressure to be thin. Dietary restriction leads to a repetitive pattern of self-deprivation, which can result in bingeing, weight gain, and worsening self-image (Psychiatry Online). Women are constantly self-conscious of their weight and focus on imperfections. However, people do not realize the amount of photo-shop, airbrushing, and lighting effects that are applied to a picture. In 2002, Jamie Lee Curtis, an actress who posed for More magazine, both in “glammed up” attire as well as her sports bra and shorts exemplifies how the media sends the wrong message to women in our society. In fact, in Jamie Lee’s own words, she has “… very big breasts and a soft, fatty little tummy … and … back fat.” She felt that women should know that the figures portrayed by the media are rarely real. In reality, most magazines airbrush photos and use expensive computer technology to correct blemishes and hide figure flaws. It does not just end with deceiving ways to hide flaws; people that can afford to do so, hire personal trainers and nutritionists to assist in their desire for weight loss. Celebrities have stylists whom select outfits and tailors whom wait on standby to ensure that clothes fit like second skin. All the young ladies eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as they are watching an awards ceremony think to themselves: “wow, she is beautiful, has an amazing body, she is perfect.” Little do they know, before every awards ceremony, celebrities and other attendees routinely fast and endure tight-fitting undergarments to flatten their stomachs for the luxurious evening gowns.
Evidently, the media causes complications in our society and there are no easy solutions. However, there are several people that can take baby steps together towards change. To begin with, parents and health care providers have a responsibility to talk with children about media messages and how to pursue a health lifestyle. By limiting exposure to television and discuss with children the false messages portrayed by the media, is a way that parents can initiate a step towards change. “The American Academy of Pediatrics’ current guidelines suggest that children watch no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality television per day and that parents watch programs with their children so they can discuss the content together (Psychiatry Online). Families can also have dinner together and engage in activities that will create a healthy environment for a child to grow up in. Aside from families, the government needs to take certain actions; for example allocate funds to produce exciting, media-driven advertising campaigns to provide information to kids and families about good nutrition, exercise, and healthy self-esteem. Messages need to be visible at school, on TV, and online. Magazine editors need to find ways to incorporate images of average-sized adults and teenagers into their publications as oppose to emaciated models.
The Dove campaign is amongst one of the most widely recognized a movement that has the goal to bring awareness to women in our society. The Dove campaign is “committed to building positive self-esteem and inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential” (Dove). It promotes the truth about beauty, and that the models that are portrayed to be “perfect,” are not realistic and a proper representation of the female population. Dove continues to build a movement in which woman have the tools and resources to take action and inspire each other and the girls in their lives.
In September 2004, the Campaign for Real Beauty was launched with an ad that was widely known because it featured real women whose appearances are outside the stereotypical norms of beauty. The ads asked viewers to critic the women’s looks (oversized or outstanding? And wrinkled or wonderful?), and casted their votes at their website campaignforrealbeauty.com. The following year Dove kicked off the second and most iconic phase of the campaign. In June 2005, the Campaign for Real Beauty advertised six real women with real bodies and real curves. This was created to break down the stereotype that only thin is beautiful. This attracted thousands of women to get involved and discuss beauty issues. In September of 2006, the news and media was overflowing a “mini” revolution that had taken place in Spain: overly thin models were banned in Spain from its fashion runways. The debate spoke to the heart of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty mission, and in response Dove produced a short film, Evolution, depicting the transformation of a real woman into a model and promoting awareness of how unrealistic perceptions of beauty are created. In short time, Dove established the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, which was created to act as an agent of change to inspire and educate girls and women about a wider definition of beauty. In 2006, this company released a commercial called Little Girls, reaching an estimated 89 million viewers, during a very important event of the American culture: the Super Bowl. Everyone participating in this campaign devoted great effort and commitment to reach their goal. Beauty Comes of Age, a global study, revealed that 91% of women ages 50-64 believe it is time for society to change its views about women and aging. The campaign celebrated the essence of women 50+—wrinkles, age spots, grey hair and all. It was brought to life through a communications campaign created with internationally renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz (Dove).
The affects of the “thin ideal” are reaching a new extreme. The number of diet and exercise articles in magazines has been on the rise with every new year, the Body Mass Index (BMI) of models on the cover of prominent magazines have been decreasing; and the affects of the media on women’s mental and physical health is rising. If this trend is not brought to an end, more and more cases of eating disorders are going to spring up. The media has distorted the perfect body image leading to not only women to serious health problems concerning their weight and body dissatisfaction, however also the health of the models who are at risk for eating disorders. From children to senior citizens, image is an issue. Negative body image is being taught to adolescents in our culture by the media and is supported by our society. The process to fight against the negative affects of the media will be a slow one, nonetheless if we come together as a society we can change the way we perceive beauty and help bring an end to the serious health consequences. Not only are these serious health consequences are of a physical sense but also the mental sense. Can you imagine a society where being skinny and tall isn’t the only definition of beauty, or the day where beauty does not come with anxiety but with confidence? With the help of all, parents, government, advertising campaigns such as The Dove Campaign, change can be achieved.

Works Cited
"Dove Social Mission | Our Partner." Dove® Skin Care, Hair Care, Body Cleansers, Lotions & Beauty Tips. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <http://www.dove.us/Social-Mission/Our-Partners/default.aspx>.
"Dove Skin Care, Hair Care, Body Cleansers, Lotions & Beauty Tips." Dove Skin Care, Hair Care, Body Cleansers, Lotions & Beauty Tips. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2013. <http://www.dove.us/default.aspx>.
"Eating Disorders and Media Influence - Body Image from Anorexia Celebrities to Athletes - Rader Programs." Eating Disorder Treatment - Anorexia Treatment, Food Addiction, Bulimia Treatment, Compulsive Overeating. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <http://www.raderprograms.com/causes-statistics/media-eating-disorders.html>.
"Profitable Objectification: The Victoria Secret Fashion Show | Change From Within." Change From Within | Musings by Jamie Utt. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2013. <http://changefromwithin.org/2011/12/01/profitable-objectification/>.
"PsychiatryOnline | Academic Psychiatry | Body Image, Media, and Eating Disorders." PsychiatryOnline | Academic Psychiatry | Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <http://ap.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=50181>.

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Eye of the Beholder

...beholder’s vision is blurred? The media today dictates what is beautiful, and these standards are so high that they are impossible to reach. Both Camille Paglia and Daniel Akst point this out in their essays about the effects these standards have on the general population. Paglia uses an appeal to the emotion of her upper-class middle-aged women audience who may choose plastic surgery as a method to stay beautiful whereas Akst uses all forms of rhetorical devices to appeal to everyone in defining what beauty truly is. Camille Paglia, Yale graduate and professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, says in her essay “The Pitfalls of Plastic Surgery” depicts the belief in the beauty of uniformity. Women have a belief that if they don’t look a certain way, then they are not beautiful, so they turn to plastic surgery. In an excerpt from her essay, Paglia shows us this example of a media sex icon “...Amazonian superheroines like Lara Croft: large breasts with a flat midriff and lean hips, a hormonally anomalous profile that few women can attain without surgical intervention or liposuction” (793). What Paglia attempts to accomplish with this essay is to appeal to the emotions of these women, so that they will not lose identity in this sea of uniformity. But woman are constantly having to compete with the young and sexy media icons and turn to things like botox. However, the need to be forever young will make it so “We will never......

Words: 703 - Pages: 3