Society’s Body Image Ideals, Media, and its Effect on Women

Topics: Foot binding, Bulimia nervosa, Foot fetishism Pages: 6 (2242 words) Published: November 20, 2013
Society’s Body Image Ideals, Media, and its Effect on Women

There is a saying that beauty is only skin-deep; this skin must be very deep because beauty seems to affect every woman’s life. Why is that men are judged by what they do, what they drive, possess, etc, while women are judged by how they look? We live in a cruel, cold world, where a woman is not a complete package if she does not meet the society’s standard of beauty. For a man, their mind matters, where for a woman, the outer matters so much more. This, unfortunately, is the superficial world we live in. Women have become slaves to this ideal beauty, and it has affected women negatively physically and emotionally. The truth is, the more beautiful a woman a regarded, the better chances there are for a woman to become successful. The world regards beauty morally suspect and ugliness with gritty allure. However, trying to meet society’s standards of beauty is unrealistic and dangerous. Advertisers and businessmen help the world to define what is considered beautiful. The media channel desire and narrow our ideas of what is considered beautiful. A crowd-pleasing image becomes a symbol of beauty, and it is then followed by imitators after imitators. These beauty standards set by the society and media, are unattainable by most women. “If everyone were cast in the same mold, there would be no such thing as beauty.” – Charles Darwin Throughout human history, women have scarred, painted, pierced, padded, stiffened, plucked, bound tight, and buffed their bodies in the name of beauty (Etcoff 5). Women have sacrificed comfort, health, time, and money in pursuit of meeting the ideal image, and it is continues on to this day. An extreme example is feet binding of Chinese women in the name of beauty in the early history. Chinese foot binding is an ancient tradition of beauty and torture, passed from mother to daughter, generation to generation, that lasted for almost 1,000 years. Foot binding was seen as a sign of beauty and attractiveness. Once a girl was of marriageable age, prospective mother-in-laws would come around and pick a wife for her son by the appearance of the girl's feet. Foot binding was the act of wrapping a three- to five-year old girl's feet with binding so as to bend the toes under, break the bones and force the back of the foot together. The bound foot was also a symbol of identity and virtue. A bound foot signified that a woman had achieved womanhood, and served as a mark of her gendered identity (Mao). The fact that many young girls had to endure this pain to be considered attractive is horrendous, but even more shocking is the fact that their parents enforced it. Perhaps the parents thought t they were preparing their daughters for a better future with the tiny feet, so that their daughters would be able to become “marriageable” to a “good husband”. Aside from all the pain, foot binding also left the girl prone to infection, gangrene, and severe joint problems. Approximately ten percent of all girls subjected to the procedure died from infection ("Small Feet of the Chinese Females"). However, it is saddening when it comes down to it, women are the ones who have to go through this pain to be physically attractive. Men did not have to conform to anything as drastic as this practice. Nothing was mentioned regarding the women’s intelligence, personality, or talent. The small, bound feet spoke for everything considered beautiful during that time. The evidence that women still strive to appear beautiful and meet the society’s standards of beauty is proven by the sales of make-up in the make-up industry. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow (Etcoff). Attaining the beauty ideal requires a lot of money. Expensive cosmetics and appliances (e.g., makeup, moisturizers, and hair dyes and straighteners) are among the most popular and are thought to be the most effective. Beauty is also very time consuming. We joke about how...

Cited: Mao, John. "Foot Binding: Beauty And Torture." Internet Journal Of Biological
Anthropology 1.2 (2007): 8
24 Nov. 2012.
"Types of Eating Disorders." National Eating Disorders Association. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.
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