Body Image in Media

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Beauty…it poses the age old question, is beauty in the eye of the beholder or is beauty only skin deep? What affects the way we determine the level of someone’s beauty? It’s very easy to see that this world is infatuated with beautiful people, but how do you become one? Who determines if you are one? Who decided what was beautiful? Where does the obsession to be beautiful come from? Body image is a pressing issue that plagues women and men alike. The problem can start at a very young age and grow into a deadly obsession that can cause eating disorders that can in turn become fatal. A large amount of body image standards come from the media. The media constitutes a large outlet that has the ability to make people believe it is a mirror of society and not that viewers are killing themselves to mirror the media. Magazine articles show emaciated models that tell young girls that thin is in or women that losing weight can be quick and easy with fad diets. These images develop unhealthy thoughts that continue to grow. Young girls are very impressionable and yearn to be beautiful and popular and hope to be one of the girls that get asked on dates like the girls they see on television. This does not change for adult women; they long to be desired like celebrity women and women in the magazines. The images portrayed in the media give the false sense that being skinny is what men want, and drive people to strive to become skinny.

Plastic surgeries conducted in the United States in the past seven years have increased 72 percent (Author, Date). This figure shows that the obsession to obtain perfection in body image has become more of a problem then society would like to admit. Now if a young women wishes to look like the supermodel she sees in a magazine, she can implant her breasts, suck out her stomach, and have her legs liposuctioned. These procedures can be very painful and cost thousands of dollars, and yet the end to the trend seems to be nowhere in sight. In fact with the advances in cosmetic medicine, so many more medical procedures are coming more and more readily available (Author, Date). Today’s youth are not excluded from this trend. Young girls are asking for breast implants for graduation, and saving up to have their liposuction procedures (Author, Date).

Self esteem is easily crushed with each page turn in a magazine, or each minute of a television program because the characters that people are watching or reading are developed based on their size. This goes beyond age level in programming. Size discrimination is seen in youth shows as well as adult programs. There are large women in television, but they are most commonly portrayed as the “funny fat chick”, that is allowed to stay in social circle for comedic relief. The true view of those healthier women in society at times become social outcasts that need to be pumped, drugged, and tampered with to be accepted (Author, Date).

Men are not exempt form these social anxieties. Many men develop obsessive behavior over body image. The need to be in shape, muscular, and desirable are all stresses that society puts on men, because media tells women that those are the qualities that an attractive man should have. Men struggle to obtain this image by obsessive workout regimens, and even going as far as turning to drug supplements to see results quicker. Some men have even developed eating disorders like bulimia in order to maintain their “perfect” body image (Author, Date) Men have gone as far as plastic surgery to achieve perfection. Men’s procedures have ranged from liposuction, to nose jobs, and even as far as calf implants (Author, Date).

These steps show that the United States is facing a very unhealthy body image problem, and it is not a problem that is only plaguing women. Why have people become so consumed with beauty? Is it the programs that are being aired? Is it the Magazines that are flying off the news stands? Milkie argues that it is a subconscious...
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