I’m going to explore the possible reasons why perceptions of body image has changed over the last ten years, and what impact this has had; if any on society. Why having the “perfect body” is being portrayed by the media, and at what lengths do people go to too achieve this? Also what pressures this creates to our younger generation; even children, and what impact this has.
Body Imaging has never been a problem, until now; or has it? Marilyn Monroe (1) and Bette Davis (2) were both glamorous movie stars back in the day, both were hugely successful and both had curvy figures; something that seems to be frowned on today.
It wasn’t about what dress size they were, as long as you were healthy, fit and happy. But it appears that even during the 20’s body image and airbrushing has played a huge part on the golden screen, and has deceived the public for decades; Hollywood’s biggest secret.
Beautiful people are those who signal to have a high mate value. Youth, facial proportions and sexual maternity are all qualities that women should possess. (Cunningham et al, 1986). Where’s in men, woman look for strong features; such as a chiselled chin, dominant but friendly, and are able to provide for his off spring. (Cunningham et al, 1990) cited in Hassebrauck. M. (1998). The visual process method: A New Method to Study Physical Attractiveness, Evolution and human behaviour, 19, 111-123, doi: 10.1016/S1090-5138(98)00002-6.
This study seems to focus more on visual attractiveness, rather than looking at what is attractive in people. Attractiveness cannot be measured just by looking at someone. I have known visually pretty people in my life time, but have hearts so cold you could freeze ice. What is attractive isn’t your appearance but your soul. “The best and most beautiful thing in life cannot be seen, not touched, but are felt in the heart” [Hellen Keller (1880-1968)].
Is the Media enforcing the perception of beauty to society, or are they products of our own expectations? Regardless of who should get a slap on the wrist, we all need to realise that this projection of perfection isn’t natural and believe me certainly isn’t Normal.
We are unknowingly creating a social normal that this is how you should look. No wonder why eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are on the increase.
In the US a survey was completed on 2,500 school girls aged between 13- 18 which found that over three quarters wanted to lose weight, and two thirds had dieted in the last year to lose weight. (Whitaker et al., 1989., cited by Wykes. M., Gunter. B., The media and Body image: if looks could kill. Retrived from http://books.google.co.uk). There is a misconception that only females are suffering from eating disorders. Between 10-25% of people who suffer from eating disorders are men, and the numbers are rising. (Retrieved from http://mengetedstoo.co.uk/about-us/about-the-charity (20/10/2011).
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) showed guidelines on eating disorders, that 1.6million people in the UK were affected by an eating disorders in 2004 and 180,000 (11 per cent) of them were men. (Retrieved from http://mengetedstoo.co.uk/information/the-facts (20/10/2011)
I personally blame TV reality shows such as “The only way is Essex”, and glossy magazine’s which advertise beauty to sell their product. Young kids idealise these people. We should be inspiring our children to know individuality is unique and beauty is from within; not out of a bottle. It’s learning to love ourselves for who we are, not what we pretend to be. The media needs to be penalised for printing foggy perceptions, and as a nation we need to realise the truths and stop being so self obsessed with image.
To finish two quotes, sourced from: http://maddieruud.hubpages.com/hub/Quotes_on_beauty.
Beauty?… To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to. ~Pablo Picasso.
Plain women know more about men than beautiful ones do. But beautiful women don’t need to know about men. It’s the men who have to know about beautiful women. ~Katharine Hepburn.