Beauty and the Media

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Television is a rising source of entertainment and information. Many people use it as a fashion guide- a way to determine what is "cool" to do, or how one should look. Even seemingly innocent shows such as America's Top Model, Family Guy or One Tree Hill reflect a certain image of how a gendered individual should look or act. Yet media would not have such a huge impact on society if the people did not support it. Peers have a lot of influence over the people they come in contact with. The desire to be loved and accepted often outweighs one's sense of respect for themselves. In order to fit it, many people go to extreme lengths to make themselves fit the ideal image society places on a gendered individual. Media's influence on American society has lead to a generation ruled by peer pressure and a never-ending desire to be more beautiful by society's standards. This feeling of never being good enough leads to many problems emotionally and physically with a rising number of individuals. American society needs to recognize that uniqueness should be treasured, and stop pressuring everyone to conform to a very rigid and unrealistic body and gender image.

American Media has had a rising say in the ideal image of a gendered individual for the past fifty years. Now it has developed into the only real place that American's look for their sense of the ideal image for a male/female. Fifty years ago, the ideal woman was slightly plump, big-breasted, and rosy. In fact, "the dominant ideal of female beauty was exemplified by Marilyn Monroe- hardly your androgynous, athletic, adolescent type. At the peak of her popularity, Monroe was often described as ‘femininity incarnate', ‘femaleness embodied'" (Susan Bordo 127). Marilyn Monroe was the 1950's ideal woman. She did not feel the need to maintain a child-like appearance or be overly athletic like we feel the need to be today. When she was most popular people took her to be their ideal image, not because she was the original image ideal for a woman, but because she set the standard. Her influence was also a positive one, with her healthy weight and size. Yet today's society uses the influence of media and celebrities to set a very unrealistic standard. Women are actually taught that there is something wrong with there bodies if they are not what society wants them to be. While, "In actuality, there is nothing wrong with women's bodies. What is wrong is that unrealistic and unnatural standards are set up for women, standards that define beautiful women as unnaturally thin, with narrow hips, large breasts, smooth skin- and a society that values what a woman looks like more than who she is or what she does, These are not characteristics of most women's bodies. They are characteristics of prepubescent girls' bodies"(Christine A. Smith 7). The ideal woman as presented by media is one who is abnormally thin- like the body of a young child, with breasts. Media also teaches American's to value women by their appearances, not by who they are or what they do. Television has set the ideal image not for the good of others, but for the good of their business; "On television, ‘info-mercials' hawking stomach flatteners, miracle diet plans, and wrinkle-dissolving cosmetics have become as commonplace as aspirin ads" (Bordo 126). Television takes every chance it can get to take advantage of Americans desire to be more beautiful. Commercials pose the idea that if you use their products you will become desirable and accepted in society, yet these products often promote the use of unhealthy diet pills, cosmetics that don't work, and even the consumption of food that is not good for you. Commercials also tell you what you want to hear. As Diane Barthel shows in her article, A Gentleman and a Consumer, "Men's products connect status and success" or "promise that female attention will follow immediately after purchase" (135). Advertisements present the illusion that if you use their product, you will become...
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