Body image is drilled into us with force, through the media likes of magazines, Television commercials and billboards. They constantly challenge our current perceptions of a healthy body. Our perceptions of our own bodies are being manipulated by the media and have damaging effects on the women, men and adolescents of society. It has come to the point where we are unaware of what the ideal healthy body looks like, as our doctor’s opinion is juxtaposed to that of society. Society further challenges medical professionals by advertising products through the power of ‘thin’.
Jean Kilbourne argues that the overwhelming presence of media images of painfully thin women means that real women’s bodies have become invisible in the mass media. The real tragedy, Kilbourne concludes, is that many women internalize these stereotypes, and judge themselves by the beauty industry’s standards. Women learn to compare themselves to other women, and to compete with them for male attention. This focus on beauty and desirability “effectively destroys any awareness and action that might help to change that climate.” – read more on Kilbourne’s article and the correlation between media and body image here.
There is a widening gap between girls’ self image and society’s message about what girls should look like. This is particularly true of fashion magazines which are rife with headings which negatively influence our perceptions of body image and set impossible standards for the ‘perfect body’. Some confronting headlines such as “Be the girl everyone wants you to be” further emphasises the correlation between exposure to mass media and eating disorders. Another confronting issue, is the effectiveness of ‘thin’ advertising and the unsuccessful nature of selling products using ‘plus size’ models.
We now find ourselves in a society where ‘cover girl’ models, do not reflect the mainstream women in society and are as far from reality as our dreams to be a size 6. If we constantly continue to compare our bodies to the beauty industry standards, severe consequences could emerge in future years. Children will be brought up in a society, which has no norm, constantly striving for a thinner body and will never learn to respect their own.