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Media Influence on Ideals of Beauty

Introduction

American media has brought a major influence to what is considered the appropriate look for beautiful women. Standards for ideal beauty have been presented by several forms of American media among them being televisions and magazines. The newly acquired roles devalue women and also deprive them of a great deal of respect from society. According to the description outlined by most American media, a woman is only considered beautiful if she has huge blue eyes, she is tall and slender, long hair of a blond color, and high cheekbones. Those women who fail to meet these standards are considered unattractive.

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These standards contradict the acceptable status of a healthy human being and striving to attain them makes women limit their value of humanity. American women tend to be careless of their well-being and become worried about how they appear to the outside world which makes them vulnerable to frustrations when they fail to attain the ideal standards of beauty. As a result of this influence, a large number of American women have been pressurized to alter their physical appearances to meet the set standards dabbed of Barbie-doll which has made them become more of entertainment images

Beauty and status

American media influence on how women should appear to be considered as beautiful has extended to society’s perception of beauty which now gauges the level of women’s status depending on how beautiful they appear. Those women who fail to meet the ideal standards of beauty are considered to have a lower status while those who meet the standards are considered to be of high status in society.

The roles of women are directed to the achievement of sexual as well as physical attractiveness to possess high status which overrides the attainment and application of their wisdom and experience in various fields that would be of great benefit to the society as a whole. American media has made women put less effort in upgrading their intellectual levels since they feel that intellect would be a secondary determinant in the attainment of high status. This makes ideal beautiful American women ignorant and manipulative, using their beauty to attract male bosses who in turn offer them good jobs.

The use of ideal beauty to attain high status also makes American women overly dependent as their main intention of improving their looks is to appear attractive to others who gauge their level of attractiveness and then attach a particular level of status to them. In instances where society attaches a lower status to women, they become helpless and devastated. “Ideally beautiful women with equally high status get access to well-paying jobs than those who do not meet the ideal beauty standards” (Kirkpatrick, 18).

Popularity also accompanies ideal beauty which is a very important element in the lives of American women who struggle to possess ideal beauty. “The nature of the requirements for American ideal beauty makes it hard for American women to raise their status since they have to show their unique attractiveness to achieve a higher status than other women” (Shepphird 93). However, it is very easy for women who have already acquired a high status to lose it. This makes them very careful while engaging in any kind of activity which makes them forego some important activities like athletics when they suspect that they might deprive them of their attractiveness as well as high status in society. (Worell 15-16)

The difference between men and women

American media has been found to provide messages regarding the attainment of ideal beauty for women which is normally very different from the messages directed to men. These differences are shown in the various types of diets suggested for women as well as the amount of emphasis put on shape transformation. Magazines designed for American women are mainly concerned with body shape where thinness is considered as an ideal which is normally reflected in the shape of underweight models portrayed in the various product advertisements. These female magazines also emphasize the need for American women to have slim bodies to become beautiful as well as valuable to contemporary American society. “Overweight-bodied women are considered to be unhealthy, disgusting as well as offensive” (Green 7).

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These magazines portray the concept of women to be based on ideal physical characteristics which is the main area in which American women’s roles are directed. On the other hand, American magazines designed for men are more concerned with intellectual as well as skill achievement. “Large bodies of men are portrayed as representatives of authority as well as greater power” (Taylor 15). According to (Steinberg 36), American women become preoccupied with activities that help them achieve what is presented in the magazines which expose them to several eating disorders like bulimia as well as anorexia. Extensive studies show that about ninety-five percent of reported eating disorder cases are those suffered by women.

The type of body sizes possessed by those models in American fashion magazines presents the picture of ideal slimness which is quite unrealistic for a large number of women. Mass media also constantly reminds women of how inadequate it is to be overweight which keeps most women insecure about the way they appear to society.

Analysis that has been carried out on information provided in popular magazines for women and those for men show that there are great differences in the advertisements as well as articles in the different sexes’ magazines. “Ten magazines designed for women contain more information on diets than the same number of magazines designed for men resulting in a ratio of one is to ten. This ratio is similar to that of reported eating disorders experienced by men as well as those experienced by men” (Drewnowski 630).

The intensive focus on this misleading information about weight control is likely to cause serious effects on young American women since late teens have been found as the age at which they start developing eating disorders signs. Mass media also provides contradicting information for the women were some articles encourage women to enjoy food consumption. Women are urged to consume food and also observe their shape and weight which is hard to manage.

Other than diet, aging is another aspect that is considered in American magazines where aging is regarded as a major cause of negative effects to women’s ideal beautiful body and plastic surgery is encouraged to improve the image of older women. This is contrary to the information provided on the effects of aging on men where they are considered to gain more power as they get older. (Levesque 69)

Although media gives different information on preferred standards of beauty, men can survive its influence when compared to ways in which women handle it. Mass media encouragement of maintaining ideal beauty is found to cause constant mockery to women who cannot achieve it. “Ideally beautiful women are provided with better opportunities by mass media like those of appearing in various advertisements than those who are considered “less beautiful” (Leiblum 20). A large number of women feel out of place when they watch advertisements where models display their ideal beauty as well as pictures of sessions during which plastic surgery is performed.

“The groups of American women who fail to attain ideal beauty get overpowered by women who have already attained it which makes them feel of a lesser value than the “beautiful” women. The media emphasizes this negative effect by presenting assessments of women’s worthiness where an evaluation of their physical appearances is carried out” (Martin 23). Most women use this information to conduct their evaluation and when they realize that they cannot modify their appearance to meet the ideal standards they apply more effort in devaluing themselves as they try to become perfect. “The highest level of mockery occurs when ideal beautiful women who are not learned get better jobs than those who are learned but have not attained ideal beauty.

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The disadvantaged category of women gets devastated since their only “weapon” to success which is intellectual achievement is overridden by “beautiful” women making them loose on both the economic as well as beauty prosperity.” (Worobey 51)Women who have not attained ideal beauty are also overpowered and feel mocked when they realize that they cannot get opportunities to advertise products that have ideal beauty as a requirement and also enjoy the benefits that come with such jobs. The lack of mass media to give this disadvantaged group of women an equal chance with ideally beautiful women also lowers the “less beautiful” women’s self-value. (Grogan 56-57)

Women bodies sexualizing

Other than discouraging women who are unable to meet standards of ideal beauty, a large number of advertisements presented by mass media show commercials where bodies of ideally beautiful women are used to increase the sale of various products like clothing as well as cosmetics. “Women’s bodies are used to advertise products that do not have any connection to their bodies like electronics and cars.

During the presentation of these advertisements, women’s images are taken as mere commodities, objectified and sexualized” (Giles 19). There is normally a link that is very clear on the pressure imposed on women to produce a certain appearance and the pressure exerted on them to make them act. The desired qualities for ideal beauty are used as symbols that represent desirable behavior for the women population.

“The value of products that are advertised is virtually gauged with the level of ideal beauty of women used in a particular advertisement” (Miller 16). However, even in these advertisements, those women who are not ideally beautiful are left out which leaves them with practically no representation in mass media (Shrum 44). The resultant effect is that the “less beautiful” women are deprived of their self-value and esteem while the ideally beautiful ones are empowered (Daniluk 18-20).

Conclusion

It is clear that; mass media has a great influence on how ideally beautiful women should look. Ideally, beautiful women are normally appreciated more than those who are not in a position to meet the standards of ideal beauty. This appreciation is normally accompanied by high status in the society which is accorded to ideally beautiful women. The messages provided by the media do not only suggest ideal beauty standards for women but also provide different ones for men with different kinds of information in them. For instance, male magazines present considerably fewer articles on diet and changes in body weight than women magazines.

Those women who fail to meet standards of ideal beauty are normally discouraged by presentations in magazines and televisions where ideally beautiful bodies are displayed. This results in situations where American women harm their bodies in their effort to achieve ideal beauty standards making them entertainment images which in turn devalues their presumed role in society.

References

Daniluk J. Women’s sexuality across the life Span: Guildford Press, 2003 pp 18-20.

Giles D. Media psychology Journal: Rutledge, 2003 pp 19.

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Green S. ideals pf beauty: Cosmopolitan magazine. Web.

Grogan S. body image: Taylor & Francis, 2008 pp 56-57.

Kirkpatrick J. Eating disorders Journal: Firefly Books, 2004 p. 18.

Leiblum S. Beauty: Marie Claire magazine, 2005 p.20.

Levesque R. Adolescents and media: Oxford University Press, 2007 pp 69-71.

Martin C. the frightening new normalcy of hating your body: Free Press, 2007 p. 23.

Miller L. Beauty up: University of California Press, 2006 pp 16-18.

Shepphird S. Answers about Anorexia Nervosa: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2009 p. 93.

Shrum J. The psychology of entertainment media: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004 p. 44.

Steinberg S. Contemporary youth culture: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 pp 36.

Taylor M. American Beauty: Essence magazine, 2001 p.15.

Worell J. sex similarities and differences: Elsevier, 2001 pp 15-16.

Worobey J. A multidisciplinary approach to Nutrition and Behavior: CABI, 2006 p. 51.

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