Despite the smooth transition from traditional to modernity, culture at large persistently places great emphasis and influence on how women look. This look and body image standards are largely proliferated through different media outlets and which have drastic impacts on women physical [body image] and psychological well-being. Based on the images presented in the current media outlets, most women find themselves unhappy with their body images thereby promoting physical and psychological diseases among them. In a nutshell, this paper will argue that unrealistic body images presented by media are the core reason why women have low self-esteem and which has resulted to physical and psychological diseases.
According to Celia Milne (2000) in her article “Pressures to Conform,” media is expressed as an institution that offers women a plethora of options for ‘that’ perfect body and shape. In addition, it also provides them with different ways of achieving the ideal body image. Following this, many women and the society in general, are obsessed with that unrealistic model of beauty and which has resulted in increased cases of cosmetic surgeries and eating disorders. For instance, Milne (pg., 222) provides a case study of Joan Johnston who got the eating disorder at nineteen years. In her story, she tells how her mother and aunt were frequent on their dieting plan. Their behavior pushed her into getting into the disorder. Naturally, media portrays thin women as the symbol of beauty in the society. And because women need appreciation, they tend to approve and adopt the messages spread across different media channels on the ideal women body image. As a result, most women end up acquiring eating disorders, starvation or even other complication as a result of these influences (Milne, pg. 222).
Media as a social institution helps different groups of people including women in constructing their identities. Therefore, most young girls are exposed to this thinness-modeled perception of women body beauty. As a result, they become dissatisfied with their whole self and end up in other interventions that are likely to result in either physical or psychological. For example, Dr. Thomas Bell presents that demand for plastic surgery has increased over time. For instance, between the periods 1994 to 1996, the number of women looking for breast augmentation went up by 123%, tummy tucks increased by 103%, breast lift by 60%, buttocks life by 146% and thigh life went by 93%. According to the doctor, the median age of individuals looking for these services moved from the mid-50s to mid-40s. Basically, media has changed the perception from the real nature of women’s heart and capability to physical beauty (Milne, p. 223). Out of this physical beauty, most of them are undergoing a very painful process to have some of their organs such as breast, buttocks, and thighs uplifted. Those who lack the finances to fund this process are left under trauma and psychological distress that may end up into depression and anxiety disorders.
According to Sullivan (2001), the human physical body is shaped by the individual historical and cultural context (Sullivan, p. 542). In this case, ideologies, societal values, beliefs, social institutions, and technology can help transform the physical body into a different social body. Despite this transformation, the social body still carries with it the imprints of the powerful elements that are harbored in the culture. Therefore, bodies provide very important clues to diverse mechanics of the general society (Sullivan, p.542). While looking into the modern society, everything is technologically driven and which also impacts on the body image that women adopt and embrace. For instance, with technological advancement in place, media is easily editing photos and videos with the aim of expressing their ideal perspective of beauty to the world. Following this, they are influencing many women into adopting cosmetic surgeries and which are resulting in both physical and psychological stresses.
With this increased pressure on the ideal body image, more women are willing to pursue this process and procedures regardless of the potential complications that they carry with them. For instance, according to Kimit Rai a Vancouver plastic surgeon, women are continuously in need of breast enlargement. Both the young [19 or 20 years] and the old [who have finished breastfeeding] are looking for this service. Regardless of the cost [$5000-$10,000] and the discomfort that these implants come bundled with, most women are still willing to pursue the ideal image as fed by the media outlets (Milne, p. 223). Therefore, media has given women a sense of “perfect” body shapes and which have continuously influenced them to do whatever it takes to achieve regardless of the pain, the suffering and the distress that accompanies the process.
Media has been labeled as an outlet that provides women with figures and images to compare self with. As a result, most women end up getting dissatisfied with their looks and which leads to them seeking for interventions that have the potential of causing either physical or psychological disease. For instance, in pursuit of thin shape, most women have acquired eating disorder. On the same, in pursuit of beauty, sizeable buttocks, thighs and breast, most women are living a discomfort lifestyle from the implants placed in their bodies. Therefore, media may be expressed as a social institution that is misleading the societal expectation of women through the unrealistic images and body images they reveal to women.