Celebrity Body Obsession

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‘In the world of celebrity, it is the body that is central to the individual’s success’ Critically explore this statement, using examples to illustrate your response.

Celebrity culture in the twenty first century gives the public a level of excitement and interest that seems, for one reason or another, disproportionate. Nowadays, culture privileges the momentary, the visual and the sensational over enduring, the written, and the rational. Celebrities are described by some as extraordinary individuals, with both natural and magical qualities and charisma (Turner, 2004). Daniel Boorstin says they are fabricated on purpose to satisfy our exaggerated expectations of human greatness (ibid.: 65) Celebrity culture is often superficial, based on looks and money, both of which are not in great supply for most of people. Celebrities dazzle the public with unattainable good looks and glamour, which turn dutifully into worship and/or envy. They’re supposed to be everything ordinary people are not: beautiful, thin and flawless. Celebrities are commodities in the sense that consumers desire to own them; their clothes, beauty projects and lifestyles. This is often why Celebrities bring out their own clothing lines. By becoming a brand, the public feel they have a slice of their chosen celebrity’s lifestyle and buy into this ideology. This celebrity obsession is one of the reasons why gossip magazines such as Heat or Hello have become such huge publications; their pages are filled with celebrity news and gossip. The public use these magazines to watch them and comment on their lives, as a form of escapism from their own. Mass media representation is the key principle in the formation of celebrity culture. Their presence in the public eye is comprehensively staged. “No celebrity now acquires public recognition without the assistance of cultural intermediaries. (...)This is a collective term for agents, publicists, marketing personnel, promoters, photographers, fitness trainers, wardrobe staff, cosmetics experts and personal assistants. “(Rojek, 2001) Why is appearance so important?

Why do people tend to pay more attention to the weight, dress and hair style of the celebrity, during Oscar Ceremonies, than to the movies themselves, or the actor’s performance? Why is body shape and weight becoming the key to success rather than talent alone? Why, as a nation, are we so obsessed?!

Researches report that women’s magazines have ten and a half more adverts and articles promoting weight loss (by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery) than men magazines. Television shows and movies reinforce the importance of a thin body as a measure of woman’s worth. Canadian researcher Gregory Foults reports that over three- quarters of the female characters in TV shows are underweight, and only one in twenty are above average size [www.media-awareness.ca]. Heavier actresses tend to receive negative comments from the public. Images of female bodies are everywhere; beautiful models are used to sell anything from food to cars. Popular film and television actresses are becoming younger, taller and thinner. Women’s magazines are full of articles promoting weight loss as the key to achieving “it all” – the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex and a rewarding career. Presenting this “ideal image” that is difficult to achieve for the average woman, has seen the cosmetic and diet product industry grow in recent years into a multi-billion pound profit making machine. Every week there is a new miracle pill or “how to book” claiming to have all the answers. It’s no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with size zero, as an essential criterion of beauty. According to Hollywood and the movie industry, age is a disaster that needs to be dealt with. “Being attractive and able to manufacture desire become sought-after attributes in the market. The body ceases to be merely the locus of desire; it becomes the facade through which distinction and...
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