Many factors influence the so-called “ideal” body shape and image (Willet, 2009). According to various articles, the culture of teen consumers began to be influenced by the female body image of cosmetics, fashion, media and advertisements (Willet, 2009). These advertisement influence teen consumers on dieting and exercising to enhance their bodies to be like models and stars (Willet, 2009).
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Through the years, media promotes the culture’s ideal body shape and image. Phrases such as “thin is in” and “the perfect body” are two examples of “eye-catching” headlines in many fashion magazines (Levin, 2009). Fashion industries, magazines and other media convey the image of having an ideal body equates to being happy and successful (Homeier, 2006). With the kind of advertisements portrayed by ultra-thin models, does fashion influenced the kind body shape and image of men and women today? Indeed, it can be said that with the continuing bombardment of media advertisements regarding “ideal” or “perfect” body results to increase in disorders and negative messages.
Description of “Ideal” Body Shape and Image
Body shape presents on a wide range of human activities and widely different ideals of it in different cultures over history (Williams, 2009). Body image on the other hand, is the dynamic perception of one’s body by how it looks, feels, and moves. It is shaped by perception, emotions and physical sensations, but can change in relation to mood, physical experience, and environment. It is influenced strongly by self-esteem and self-evaluation, more so than by external evaluation by others. It can, however, be powerfully influenced and affected by cultural messages and societal standards of appearance and attractiveness (Willet, 2005).
Many elements of society promote the idea that having an Ideal Body is a guaranteed way to command others’ admiration and approval. For many teen girls, having the ideal body will be their key to attract a romantic partner, to land a dream job, to have good health and to have popularity, or to maintain success and self-confidence (Willet, 2009). In short, it has been continuously believed that having the ideal body will lead to a good life.
“An ideal body for women is either a very thin supermodel/waif look, or an impossibly voluptuous figure. Men, on the other hand, may have to contend with ideals that demand muscularity or extreme thinness or both” (Willet, 2009).
Factors that may Influence “Ideal” Body Shape and Image
Body shape and image are generally influenced by media. There are a number of factors that define body shape and image as ‘targets for regulation and control’ (Homeier, 2006). Ironically, majority of women with perfect bodies are enhanced by modern technology to achieve the effect, or portray women who may actually be seriously underweight (Homeier, 2006).
The media promotes the widespread belief that attractive people are lean people. Celebrities, such as fashion models, actors, actresses, and television journalists, are generally thinner than average American. These media personalities project an image of confidence, beauty, and success which may seem to be inextricably linked to the thinness of their bodies (Homeier, 2006).
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From childhood to adulthood, television, billboards, movies, music videos, video games, computer games, toys, the Internet, and magazines convey images of ideal attractiveness, beauty, shape, size, strength and weight. These advertisements promote poor body image through their “beauty” ads and provide mixed messages regarding lifestyle (Homeier, 2006).
In childhood, popular toys such as action figures and dolls have similar body shapes for female having tall and slender figures and for male tall, slender, and muscular figures. The body shapes advertised by these toys, dolls and media sources are not realistic. For instance, if Barbie were real, her neck would be too long and thin to support the weight of her head, and her upper body proportions would make it difficult for her walk upright. If Ken were real, his huge barrel chest and enormously thick neck would nearly preclude him from wearing a shirt (Willet, 2009).
From Barbie to Victoria’s Secret, women are exposed to media images of “the thin ideal” from a very early age. Television, movies, and magazines all perpetuate the idea that an ultra thin woman is the ideal. Moreover, that GQ digitally morphed actress Kate Winslet’s body into a much thinner, shapelier form for the cover (Willet, 2009).
Magazines targeted at female adolescents are full of images of young, slim, attractive, blemish-free females with small waists, large chests and only ever-so-slightly-rounded hips, while magazines produced for males are full of strong, lean, attractive, blemish-free males, frequently displayed with the aforementioned females in close proximity. Beauty pageants continue to be a popular and avidly watched showcase of ideal body beauty (Levin, 2009).
It is often emphasized in different TV, radio and magazine advertisements that having a highly desirable body is very important as this will cause for their products being sold. However researchers are concerned that this places undue pressure on women and men to focus on their appearance (Levin, 2009).
“In recent survey by Teen People magazine, 27% of the girls felt that the media pressures them to have a perfect body, and a poll conducted in 1996 by the international ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi found that ads made women fear being unattractive or old” (Levin, 2009).
“Researchers suggest advertising media may adversely impact women’s body image, which can lead to unhealthy behavior as women and girls strive for the ultra-thin body idealized by the media. Advertising images have also been recently accused of setting unrealistic ideals for males, and men and boys are beginning to risk their health to achieve the well-built media standard” (Homeier, 2006).
Fashion can be seen in many different ways. In the past, female that have big breast, small waist and big buttocks is an ideal perfect body. The changing world of fashion shifts the concept of ideal body from voluptuous to ultra-thin body. Maintaining a thin and perfectly toned body is beautiful. These are messages usually conveyed by media and fashion industries to influence the ideal body shape and image. Advertisements, fashion magazines repeatedly show ultra thin images of models, actors and actresses influencing the viewers to be beautiful and accepted the ideal look is to be thin. The power of media and advertisements bombard viewers how men and women should look. Studies show that advertisements not only sell products but also influence viewers unconsciously to have ideal bodies. However, these negative messages of fashion industries are slowly turning to end. Fashion no longer advertises just for the so-called ideal body of thin people, but the whole line of body shapes and sizes. Fashion designers make fashion clothing based on options and choices because the real beauty of body image is seen in the real body shape of the person. Hence, body shapes and images are no longer dictated or influence by fashion rather these body shapes and images influence the kind of fashion style of today and the future.
Homeier, Barbara. 2006. “Self-Esteem and Body Image” Web.
Levin, Judith. “Obesity and Self-Image.” Teen Health and Wellness: Real Life, Real Answers. 2009. Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. Web.
Willett, Edward. “Negative Body Image.” Teen Health and Wellness: Real Life, Real Answers. 2009. Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. Web.
Willett, Edward. “Weight and Depression.” Teen Health and Wellness: Real Life, Real Answers. 2009. Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. Web.
Williams, Kara. “Food and Physical Activity.” Teen Health and Wellness: Real Life, Real Answers. 2009. Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. Web.