Media Images

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I confess that I am one of those women who look forward to monthly magazines telling me the new month’s facade of “beauty”. Starting at a very young age, women are convinced that in order to be happy, accepted, respected, successful, sexy or beautiful; they must fit a particular mold that society has formed for them. The media defines the accepted and changing representation of beautiful and perfect that women feel they must achieve. As mentioned in the video Killing Us Softly 4, we’re told that women are acceptable only if they’re young, thin, white, perfectly groomed and polished, plucked and shaved. Any deviation from this is not ideal or acceptable. This standard of attractiveness for women that is portrayed in the media is not only unrealistic, but unattainable by most women. This body type that we see in advertisements as acceptable or desirable is one that fewer than 5% of American women have, According to Juan-Hwan & Lennon (2007). Women engage in a comparison between their bodies and these unrealistic images on beauty. There are so many images of “beautiful” women, which people try very hard to mimic. These images are everywhere and hard to ignore as the average woman sees 400 to 600 advertisements per day. According to Millard (2009), “advertising heavily influences beauty standards and that women in particular compare themselves with models despite the gap between retouched perfection and reality.” (p. 147). These standards emphasize unrealistic body types and because most women are not gifted with the ideal body size and shape, conforming to these ideals of female beauty is difficult. These messages of ideal beauty are difficult to ignore. Millard’s article on Dove’s “Real Beauty” Campaign stated the following:


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...of beauty and women are oppressive in that they contribute to the limitation and restriction of women. In advertising, women are portrayed as being inferior which is false and objectifying. The obsession with thinness, the ideal image of beauty and oppression of women are all public problems that affect us all, man or woman. Inner beauty is forgotten and deemed unimportant in our society. The problems leave us with nothing but a shallow, depressed, miserable, unrealistic society with standards that leave people feeling inadequate and rejected. The media should give a more realistic body type for women to look up to. Women need to work together to help change attitudes, and neutralize the negativity that society and the media create. We can refuse to take the media so seriously and try to challenge the idealistic images in advertising and their demeaning messages.
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