The American Obsession with Bodily Perfection

Topics: Anorexia nervosa, Eating disorders, Bulimia nervosa Pages: 7 (2618 words) Published: November 11, 2008
The American Obsession with Bodily Perfection
America is a growing and changing nation, but one characteristic has outlasted the years. The obsession for a socially-accepted body, whether it be wearing a corset, being big and voluptuous or, for men, being muscular and lean, has always existed. The culprit, a negative body image, now haunts approximately eight million people across the United States and is beginning to seep into more American minds as the “Perfect” disease spreads (Davis 8). In the past decade, the pressure to have “the perfect body” has dramatically increased in America; every individual in this nation has a different view of what “the perfect body” actually is, and many people who are seeking it are willing to take radical measures, like suffering from an eating disorder or turning towards cosmetic surgery to erase the imperfections of their body they believe exist. Quests for “the perfect body” in the past few years have increased in both males and females. Women are pounded with media every day telling them, “thin is in” or “thinner is better,” but in reality, achieving this “ideal” body is sometimes impossible and unhealthy to obtain (Davis 12). Ten billion dollars a year is spent by the American population to look “ideal” and lose weight (Kuberskey 19- 20). In fact, “ideal weight” has varied in America from one generation to the next. Marilyn Monroe was curvy and voluptuous in one decade and, in another, Kate Moss began the thin epidemic, but both for their time period were ideal. The information stating that thin is beautiful sparks from the media, for female celebrities are usually portrayed on the television or in magazines without flaws. What many young women do not understand about television and magazines is the art of digital body contouring. All models or celebrities have imperfections, yet in pictures or digital images the editor airbrushes over them, creating a look of perfection. Sadly, these false statements and images affect teenage girls, the main readers of these magazines and viewers of these television shows (Davis 21). Teenage years are when girls find out who they are, and up and coming teenage girls have now been taught that being slender is the only accepted bodily form (Kuberskey 15-16). According to Brangien Davis, “Advertisers in the beauty and fashion industries make it seem that if we don’t strive for the beauty ideal, we won’t be successful or happy in life” (13). In the advertiser’s minds, the only thing that matters is that beauty sells (Davis 21). Because of these pressures to look beautiful and sophisticated, a negative body image tends to affect females rather than males. Girls define themselves by their appearance, yet boys define themselves by their abilities, therefore, men wish to be lean and muscular. For this reason, men are not immune to the quest for bodily perfection; no one is (Davis 15). These quests for perfection are usually undetectable in men, for men do not speak about their obsession because they fear being embarrassed or looking feminine. Males are subconsciously influenced by muscular heroes like GI Joe, muscle and fitness magazines, or even male models (Kassar). These men with body issues believe they are not muscular or lean enough and fear gaining weight. These secretly infatuated men are beginning to show their obsessions in our everyday lives just as commonly as women show their obsessions. Men’s fascinations with the perfect body are sometimes more dangerous than women’s fascinations, for men use drugs like anabolic steroids to gain muscle and become “ideal.” They work out excessively and use Creatine to increase muscle tone and, deceivingly, look toned and healthy, although their body is suffering (Kassar). Dr. Brian Kassar believes that “In men’s perspective if you are thin, muscular and ‘virile,’ you will be personally and sexually fulfilled.”

To have “the perfect body,” weight is obviously a major concern to the...
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