Dr. Matt Oliver
English 112 07
16 February 2014
Misrepresented Beauty: Paradox
From the decennium of sybaritic stars such as Marilyn Monroe to the immense popularity of the Barbie doll, the ideals of the female figure has been misconstrued. Neimark in her article, “Why We Need Miss America” quoted directly, “Miss America is the official standard of beauty, kind of the dollar bill”. The rest of us are not necessarily repulsive; we are beautiful, but not by those standards. The media plays a very crucial role in this regard. This ludicrous beauty standards are taken as the benchmark for physical attractiveness in today’s society. Young girls strive to meet the mold of beauty reflected on TV, magazines, billboard, etc. where it is broadcasted. Pop culture and its entirety of ideas, serving as the basis for modern socialization has shaped our attitudes, beliefs and values, also the way we think and feel about ourselves. It is so unfortunate that its function is an aberration through its setting of false standards, objectification, and misogynist appearances which degrades, encourage abuse, leads to serious health problems and reinforce the patriarchal, sexist society.
According to Jean Kilbourne in her video, “Killing Us Softly 4” she helps analyze the different ways advertising has indeed distorted ideas of feminity. She claims ads today unconsciously dictate who we are and what we should be thereby selling values, lifestyles and concepts of normalcy. We come across ads everywhere and almost on a daily basis. As the author puts it, “It is therefore dishonest to say we are not affected by them”. Although, many feel personally exempt from the influence of advertising, they are mistaken. We cannot escape from them because these ads send subliminal messages which our brain works, reworks and interpret on the subconscious level. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that these messages do not shape our identity because they are part of our environment of culture.
The setting of false standard is one phenomenon mislabeled by popular culture. This happens when people measure their appearance with a so-called idealized body type therefore creating an appearance obsessed culture. Consider the physical demand that televised commercials assume, they suppose women to have a sexualized behavior and appearance. The perfect feature is pictured as light skin, thin, straight hair, Caucasian features, etc. The desire to look as perfect as these models can become all-consuming, and a wealth of evidence shows that people in the US are experiencing serious body image problems. A recent study by Fister and Smith on the effects of exposing women to realistic images indicated a strong relationship between high risk toward disordered eating and subsequent thinness and weight expectancy endorsement. It was found that the mean of positive thoughts about weight after the Media Truth Presentation (M=33.25, SD=10.9) was significantly higher than the mean of positive thoughts about weight after the Media Exposure Presentation (M=30.05, SD=10.62), t(79)=-4.99, p<.01, indicating that the media truth presentation had a positive influence on how the participants feel about their weight since the media exposure presentation was significantly different from the mean at the baseline (p>.017). (Fister 412).
Taken in this light, people who are unhappy about their bodies can develop eating disorders, turn to diet pills or steroids, or even try cosmetic surgery and Botox injections. This also affects adolescents and impacts on the way they think. It is important to buttress the fact that these depressive orders increase the risk of suicide and adverse health outcomes, namely lifelong recurrence of major depressions. A recent study on thirteen year old adolescents was carried out to evaluate the prevalence of body dissatisfaction and the association with depressive symptoms, according to gender. Among females, it was discovered that 15.8% desired a bigger figure