The rise of the influence of media is very immense in the past two decades and it is becoming the major concerning issue in today’s time and age. Many research studies have proved that it is causing body distortion and psychological illness, especially in women. It has been seen that women are more conscious about their looks and most of them are living with this dreadful feeling. It has been seen that the ideal images of women are being portrayed by the media. For instance, thin for women and muscular for men. This essay will try to support the argument that “unrealistic body image depicted by the modern day’s media promote psychological and physical disease among women”(Reinking, et al 541).
In today’s time, majority people are unhappy with their body image and it has become a national concern (Milne 1). The author quoted the stats of the National Eating Disorder Information Centre that say in Canada, 90 % of women are not happy with their body image. In addition to this, the major cause is eating habits. Furthermore, it was also stated that 43% of women in comparison to 33% of men believe that their weight is more than the desired. Nearly 70% of the women in Canada are very much concerned about their weight and nearly 40% of them are yo-yo dieting. Media has a huge influence on moulding women's perception of body image. According to Milne, it is responsible for the rising concern of women and their obsession with their bodies (2).
The most popular route that is being taken to transform the body in order to have an idealised body is ‘plastic surgery.' According to the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, between 1994 and 1996, the rise in the people with tummy tucks was 103%. In addition to this, the increase in the breast augmentation and breast lift cases was 123% and 60%, respectively (Milne 2). In addition to this, the increment in the stats of the buttock lifts, anti-wrinkle treatment, and high lifts had also been noticed. Breast enlargement by silicone implants is very trendy among the younger women, especially in those belonging to 19 or 20 age strata. Media has made women preoccupied about their breast size up to such an extent that they are never happy with their breasts. The cases of implants are large in women who are associated with the modelling and fashion industry. Even if the cost of implantation is high and the people are aware of the risks associated with breast implantation, the number of implantation cases are not undergoing a downfall.
Many women are so frightened to gain weight and lose their ideal body image that they are willing to forgo motherhood as pregnancy will ruin their trim body image that takes their blood, sweat, and tears to achieve (Milne 3). Media has induced a feeling of body dissatisfaction among young women and this is one of the major reason for low self-esteem among women. Magazine and print media are portraying the ideal image of women. According to Milne, in many cases, dissatisfaction from one's body image causes psychological disorders too and poor quality of life (3). In many cases, it has been noticed that females receive messages about their body shape from their close relatives, friends, colleague, etc. This makes them conscious and concerned about their body image. Body dissatisfaction is attributed to negative body image that has been a result of high emphasise and focus of media on thin and slender body image.
Milne also emphasised on the repercussions of insecurity among females. Due to this, they are indulged in pleasing even unreasonable partner. It has been seen that women with low self-esteem would like to stay with men who abuse them mentally and physically. Among women within the age group of 15-18, the dreadful effects of low self-esteem are having sex even when they are not ready. This has increased the risk of HIV and other life-threatening diseases. In the past two decades, the preoccupation of society towards body image has worsened than ever before.
According to Sullivan, cosmetic surgery and other body reshaping practices are being used by a human from a very long time in order to satisfy the cultural norms (3). According to female circumcision, the body is demonstrated as a site that expresses powerin culture. In addition to this, the body is also used to communicate individual status, group membership, social identity, and societal values. In the early 1950s, the tattoos were considered abusive and vulgar by middle-aged and middle-class Americans (Sullivan 4). However, in the mid-60s, the values of tattoos got changed and they became a trend among the younger artist, especially the rap singers and heavy metal pop stars. In the 1990s, the tattoos turned out to be a badge of youth. Middle-class college-goers, athletes, movie stars, singers, and blue-collar workers marked themselves with unique tattoos that reflect rebellion and tribal pattern. The teenage girls are inclining towards navel rings and nose studs and they have become a fashion statement. Some of them have even experimented with some more extreme forms, such as scarification and scalp implants that are considered as self-stigmatisation. In addition to this, tattooing and piercing are being considered as the ways to become a part of society. Media has a great role in increasing people's concern for body customs (Sullivan 5). Clipping nose hair, tattoos, tweezing eyebrows, and cosmetic surgery are a part of self-creation and people try creating their own unique image in society.
Women tend to internalise the perspective of an observer to judge their physical shape. This theory says that females keep monitoring their physical shape and that results in body dissatisfaction and mental disorders (Glauert, et al 445). With the rise in media, the definition of beauty has been under a great shift and is focused on external appearance. The images of beautiful trimmed women have changed the perception of young teenage girls and have made them concerned about their body shape. This has resulted in an increase in the cases of cosmetic surgery. Apart from this, factors such as economic and psychological factors have also instigated women to have multiple cosmetic surgeries in order to have an ideal body image (Sullivan 12). Talking about the masculinity, Sullivan argued that male body norms have not varied much in comparison to the female norms. Masculinity is characterised as a symbol of power, domination, strength, and muscularity (8). With prosperity, there has been a spread of softer bodies in both middle and upper-class people. It is also portraying an image that promises social acceptance for women and men. Hence, the thin and slender body shape is being idealised by women and muscular and toned body is idealised for men.
From the aforementioned presented arguments and evidence, it can be seen that media is being the prime force that is causing concern in women about their body image and causing physical and psychological disorders. Media has put a tremendous pressure on women to change their body through exercise, diet, beauty products, cosmetic products, and many a time through surgery, etc (Häfner 499). So, it is suggested for women that they should focus more towards being fit while eating healthy instead on dieting and putting themselves to too much suffering in order to idealise their body shape.
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