Unhealthy Images of the Female Body

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To some degree women in various cultures have always experienced the pressure to conform to specific ideals. The new phenomenon in Western society is telling women that beauty has requirements. That is, to be attractive you must be incredibly thing, firm, but not muscular and large breasted (Grogan 41).

Unhealthy images of the female body are continuously displayed in almost all aspects of media, but television commercials are an incredibly strong influence. Although there are many influential commercials, the ad campaign by Victoria's Secret, Love My Body, is particularly frightening. The television commercials star the typical "stick thin and busty" models (McDonell-Parry) parading around in their underwear, wind blowing through their hair, making comments such as "I love my body", "my body is sexy" and "my body is my favorite body". The idea of confidence is possibly trying to be portrayed here, but the company strongly reinforces the narrow image of beauty created in Western society by choosing models that conform to Westernized beauty standards, thus contradicting the theme of confidence (McDonell-Parry). This specific Victoria's Secret commercial, along with many other commercials, are being viewed by thousands of women, both young and old. The portrayal of these women on TV sends a message to young females that confidence is fun and sexy, but you can only have it if you are extremely thin, busty, and beautiful like the displayed women. The commercials for the new line of bras could have easily been made to promote the love and appreciation of all women, despite their shape or size, but it chose to reinforce the unrealistic standards that the typical media source holds. It is images and ads like these that create inward negative feelings in young women.

Self-esteem is considered to be a “positive or negative attitude toward… the self” (Clay 451). Negative attitudes in young women can stem from a variety of internal or external forces. An accurate method to measure a young female’s self-esteem is through the interpretation of body dissatisfaction and what provokes it. Body dissatisfaction occurs due to three things, in the present day: the desire to be thin, the dread of weight gain and the idea that weight and shape are essential to a female’s character (Levine 11). All of these determinants of body dissatisfaction are a result of how media uses an unrealistic female body in virtually all of its aspects, thus creating a cultural norm that being "thin is attractive" (Levine 15).
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