Standards Of Beauty In The 21st Century English Essay

1974 words - 8 pages

The Standards of Beauty in the 21st Century
At the point when girls are youthful, their brains and imagination illuminate at the sight
of Disney princesses, with their beautiful ball gowns, perfect hair, and dainty waists. In most
instances, they become the child’s first role model. As they grow up these young girls start
playing with Barbies, dressing the doll up for a beach date with Ken. Before long these young
ladies become young women while flipping through magazines and awing at the sight of a model
in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show who strolls through the runway with a glamorous outfit
that outlines her body perfectly. ​According to “The Dove Self-Esteem Fund” the organization
states “71% of girls with low self-esteem feel their appearance does not measure up, including
not feeling pretty enough, thin enough or stylish or trendy enough”(sircs.org). ​Young girls and
women are persuaded to buying fad products, getting eating disorders/anorexia and being bullied
by the media.
The Miss Belt, a weight loss product, claims to give women “the perfect waistline in
seconds and give her an hourglass shape” (DailyMail UK). ​This compression tool sucks
stomachs in and is marketed to be worn at work, during exercise, and while relaxing also adding
that the belt is a great tool for hiding a 'baby body. This is what the world has become today,
advertising products to make women look thinner so the company can make money. The Miss
Belt has many great reviews on Amazon and eBay giving the product a 3.8 out of 5 stars.
Therefore, many people think the society only bases girls and women on their look when really
what is on the inside matters most. "Girls are extremely desirable to advertisers because they are
new consumers, are beginning to have significant disposable income, and are developing brand
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loyalty that might last a lifetime" (Kilbourne 259). Girls of all ages get the message that they
must be flawlessly beautiful and thin. They get the message that with enough effort and
self-sacrifice, they can achieve this ideal. And the result is that young girls from the early start to
feel bad about themselves. A massive worldwide industry is eager to tell women that there are
products for sale which can improve their looks. The worst part is that identity is understood as
something that could be reworked, improved upon, and even dramatically changed. Advertising
is a powerful force in our culture that informs us but does not educate us. Economics is a
significant factor in the development of the ideal image. “There is a wealth of businesses that
depend upon the American desire for thinness to survive” (The Beauty Myth 64). In order to
create a market for their product, they attempt to make women feel inadequate about their own
bodies through advertisement. According to Wolf, the diet industry has tripled its income in the
past ten years from a $10 billion industry to a $33.3 billion industry. When the US compare
some results with UK, people can see that there is also a lot of profiting going on. The UK
beauty industry takes £8.9 billion a year by selling products to women. Magazines are financed
by the beauty industry. They start with young girls and teach them how to use the right product
and they establish loyalty that lasts a lifelong . The society all probably have one cosmetic
product that everyone use for so many years. Cosmetics for teenagers are relatively cheap but
within a few years more cultured market will persuade the most rational woman to throw her
money on the right product that promises to defend women from their own weakness.
“Wasted Away” is a story that is about on campus eating disorders and was on the front
page of​ People​ magazine. In Spring 1996, sandwhich bags went missing in a kitchen of a big
sorority house at a large northeastern house. The Sorority president became suspicious and went
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to investigate and she found hundreds of sandwich bags filled with vomit and stored in the
basement of the bathroom and later learned the building pipes were eroded with stomach acid
and would have to be replaced. Teenagers and young adults are not the only people that are
affected by body images. According to the “Mirror, Mirror” article, Swedish research stated 25%
of girls seven years old have tried dieting to lose weight because they did not feel comfortable in
their own skin and were suffering from “body-image distortion”. Studies from Japan showed
41% of six year olds have tried dieting because they thought they were too fat. So many
underweight and average-weight girls also tried dieting to lose weight. Every year,
approximately thirty million individuals suffer from eating disorders in the US and every
sixty-two minutes at least one person dies as a result from an eating disord​er. A former model
Nikki DuBose said she loved the success within the fashion and entertainment industry but
suffered from a binge eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia nervosa throughout her career. She
saw and experienced things, such as “sexual harassment, trauma, bullying, exposure to wild
parties, drinking, drugs and the daily pressure to lose weight by everyone around me, including
the agency [she] was working for” (DuBose). She states that in the beginning of her modeling
career she was curvy and healthy but when she decided to leave in 2012 she was even
unrecognizable by her agency. Leah Hardy, a former ​Cosmopolitan​ editor, admitted that many of
the stick-thin models in ​Cosmo​ were actually struggling with eating disorders. ​Cosmopolitan
also asked their readers if they were confident with their bodies. Of the 1,000 women surveyed,
over 60% revealed that they were not​. 131 beauty pageant contestants were surveyed and 89.6%
of the pageant finalists and/or winners have admitted to an eating disorder at about sixteen years
old. With all these stories and statistics, individuals can infer that understan​ding can grant us the
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power to discern between a normal body image and a distorted body image based on an
unrealistic illusion of beauty standards, and ultimately prevent the harm done by eating disorders
The 21st century is The Age of Technology. There are about 1.96 billion individuals
around the world with social media. Americans spend watching television for 250 billion hours
per year and watch on average of three hours everyday. Research from California State
Northridge states about 30% of all television time air time is advertisements so an aver​age child
watches 20,000 commercials per year. Television is not the only place humans see
advertisements, popular magazine especially women’s and teen’s magazines are filled with
advertisement and even spot pop-up ads online. The media and body image are closely related
due to the number of images an individual see in the media and the excessive amount of
exposure the society have, to those images. Many of the messages that the vast population is
bombarded with have to do with beauty, and the media images and messages about beauty are
usually unattainable. The purpose of media advertising is to make a profit. The way many
companies do this is they play with women's’ feelings dissatisfaction and insecurities about
things about their bodies and themselves. According to Roy A. Cui, a Photoshop professional,
“Anything that you see in print…all of these have been manipulated.” Media literacy is being
able to understand and analyze advertising in that context; that advertisers are trying to make a
profit, and they do so by creating dissatisfaction about ourselves using unattainable illusions
about body image and beauty. Thus understanding can grant us the power to discern between a
normal body image and a distorted body image based on an unrealistic illusion of beauty
standards, and ultimately prevent the harm done by eating disorders. Studies have also been done
concerning the influence of magazines on women, and the results make things perfectly clear:
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the media needs to stop promoting unrealistic body images. Turner, Hamilton, Jacobs, Angood,
and Dwyer conducted a study in 1997 in which thirty-nine college-age women were randomly
assigned to two different tasks: one group of women viewed a fashion magazine prior to taking a
body image survey, while the other group viewed a news magazine. The women who were
assigned the group that viewed the fashion magazine stated that they wanted to lose more weight
and viewed themselves more negatively than the women who read the news magazine.Two more
modern studies of women’s fashion magazines documented the striking changes in beauty
standards over time. Each focused on a different aspect of how beauty is defined within those
magazines. Sypeck, Gray, and Ahrens conducted a study examining the cover models of
Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Mademoiselle, and Vogue magazines from 1959 to 1999. They studied
changes in the size of the cover models, as well as studying the change in type of photograph
used (whether it was a full body image, or image of face and torso only). While changes in both
models’ size and type of photo occurred over the years of this study, the shift towards increased
thinness was found in this study to begin around the 1980’s . “Particularly striking is the finding
that not only are the models becoming thinner, but that the public has also been increasingly
exposed to depictions of their bodies” (Gane 346). Gane’s study focused strictly on the changes
made in the way Seventeen Magazine advertised over a period of sixty years.Starting in 1945,
Gane examined two issues (each six months apart from each other) of the magazine per year, in
five year intervals ending in 2005. Gane found that “as applied bodily-enhancement ads for
beauty increase over time, clothing/shoe ads appear to decrease… over time, ideals of beauty
changed from being defined by attitude “To be beautiful,” Gane proposed, “it is necessary to
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have an enhanced, non-natural face” (Gane 347). The augmented body has become the new
symbol of femininity.
The standards of beauty that most women and girls follow hast hurt them on the outside
and inside. Everyone is beautiful on the inside and that is what matters the most. Most of the
population of girls and women in the US and UK have been convinced to buying weight loss
products, in the process or have already developed eating disorders or anorexia and are
influenced by the media to being the most beautiful individual
Works Cited
"Adison's Blog." ​Adisons Blog​. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
"The Media And Body Image." ​RSS 20​. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
"Body Image – Advertising and Magazines." ​Body Image – Advertising and Magazines​. N.p.,
n.d.
Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
"Body Image – Film and TV." ​Body Image – Film and TV​. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
Dailymail.com, Carly Stern For. "'Destroying hundreds of years of women's history in one
infomercial':
Women are voicing disbelief at 'sexist' and 'unnatural' ad for a new waist-slimming corset
belt." ​Daily Mail Online​. Associated Newspapers, 21 Aug. 2015. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
"Eating Disorder Statistics • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated
Disorders."
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National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders​. N.p., n.d. Web. 11
Jan. 2017.
Klein , Kendyl M. ​Why Don 't I Look Like Her? The Impact of Social Media on Female Body
Image​. Rep. N.p., 2013. Web.
"Media And Body Image." ​National Eating Disorders Association​. N.p., 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 11
Jan.2017.
Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved January 10, 2017
O'Neill, Anne-Marie, and Christina Cheakalos. "Cover Story: Out of Control – Vol. 51 No. 13."
PEOPLE.com​. Time Inc, 12 Apr. 1999. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
Seeley, Bri. "Redefine Your Definition of Beauty." ​The Huffington Post​.
TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d.
Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
Wolf, Naomi. ​The beauty myth: how images of beauty are used against women​. New York: W.
Morrow, 1991. Print
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