The Affect of the Mass Media on Society's View of a Woman's Ideal Weight

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The Affect of the Mass Media on Society's View of a Woman's Ideal Weight

Over a period of time societies view of the ideal woman and their weight has dramatically changed. According to Joan Jacobs Brumberg (an author of a popular book, Fasting Girls) in the 19th century, "bigger was considered better." Back then "the larger a man's wife was, the more she was seen as a good provider. Today, however, fat is seen as unhealthy and being "thin is in." Now when we see an overweight woman we tend to stereotype them as "lazy" and "sloppy" and we equate slenderness with being successful and attractive to men (Michael Levine, 1987). You can see how drastic these changes have become over time by looking at the facts.

Even in the 19th century women were self-conscience of their bodies, but they were worried about different body parts than women today. Back then women were worried about their hands and feet being too large. Fearing that people would identify them as the working class. Yet, today women stress about their overall figure and bodyweight. Most women dread being overweight because of the way we view being thin vs. being thickset.

Weight did not actually become a critical part of the female identity until the 1920's, when home scales and dieting became more common among American women. Until then drug stores and county fairs were the only places women could weigh themselves. Today nine out of ten people own a home scale and over a period of time dieting has become the latest trend. There are over a hundred different diets with over a hundred different answers on how to loose weight. Over time society has slowly taught women to measure themselves in terms of physical appearance. Therefore they strive to improve their figure to meet societies standards. However, the standards that society has set (for example, supermodel Kate Moss) are out of reach for most women.

Often times, teenage girls compare their body size to those of popular actresses and supermodels such as Jennifer Aniston and Elizabeth Hurley. With examples such as these, is society sending out the wrong message? Vast amounts of people consider these women too thin. Yet, teenage girls still strive to reach their body types. Frequently they may turn to eating disorders in order to reach their goal.
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