Constructions of Beauty

Kaylyn Boccia, Staff Writer

image courtesy of
image courtesy of

Starting at an extremely young age, girls are overloaded with hard, and sometimes unattainable, body and beauty expectations promoted through all forms of media. Advertisements are displayed on TV, and in magazines, showing products to women that are supposed to help make them more “beautiful” or help them lose weight. All kinds of products are filling the minds of women with the idea that they need these items to help themselves reach this image of the “perfect woman” created by the media. In addition to the image-changing products being shown, commonly perceived beautiful, tall and skinny women are the ones advertising these products.

It is becoming more normal for females as young as ten years old to be weight conscious and develop a fear of being or becoming fat. Considering that these children have yet to even hit puberty, this fear and self-consciousness is completely irrational and worrisome. Girls and women strive to be fit, skinny and have the body of celebrities and/or models. However, what these females do not realize is that many celebrities themselves do not look the way they are portrayed in photographs or ads. Also, what women are trained to think of as desirable, model-esque bodies are many times obtained by extremely unhealthy diets.

Due to societal pressures women have become so obsessed with being skinny that most of us would claim that being skinny is in fact something we want more than anything else. As if to say that women cannot be happy without being skinny, and if they are skinny they must be happy. This is an extremely sad, yet true, statement and helps to solidify the idea that image has become one of, if not the most important thing, in our society. Females have become obsessed with calorie counting, exercise and depriving ourselves of food we enjoy. Countless women can tell you exactly how many calories are in a certain food item without even looking at the label. This obsession, to many, has become an exhausting daily routine. In other cases though, it has become more serious and has resulted in starvation, or purging.

As stated by the American Psychological Association, it is estimated that seven million American women have an eating disorder, and 85-90 percent of all people who have an eating disorder are women. According to PBS’s “Perfect Illusions: Eating disorders and the Family,” the average model is 5’ 11” and weighs 117 lbs, whereas the average woman is 5’ 4” and weighs 140 lbs. This is the reason why many of these “average women” have such a poor body image, and why so many suffer from eating disorders. In reality the healthy, target weight for a 5’ 11” woman is 156 lbs. Therefore, an average model is about 40 lbs underweight, and some even more.

What women need to realize, and try to focus on, is the fact that many of these images we see in media are photo shopped and/or fixed. The advertisements in all magazines are always enhanced; it is like plastic surgery for photos. “Fat” is always shaven from the women photographed, as well as fixing their complexion, hair, or face shape, and covering them with tons of makeup before the photo shoot. This image that we strive to imitate is not even attainable by the celebrities, or models themselves. So why is it that we still obsess over trying to be as skinny as the model in an ad, or walking down a runway? No matter how aware women are of this fact, it has been proven that constant exposure to an idea, can distort the mind and its image of reality. This pressure felt on a daily basis has jeopardized the health of many women, and their body image, no matter how skinny they are or how hard they work, is at an all-time low. Females have had this idea that they will never physically be good enough ingrained in their mind for years. There is this delusion that there will always be some brand of makeup, some diet, or some weight loss pill that can make them better than they already are. The media is truly at fault and has succeeded in not only distorting reality in the minds of women, but the image staring back at them in the mirror.

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