In this article, found online at the above address, I found shocking facts about women in our society today. Though mostly concerning teens and younger women, for example high school and college girls, it was appalling to face the facts. Gerber mentioned how society’s trend to reach perfection through looks, aids to the raising numbers of cases of anorexia, bulimia, low-self esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits. He stated that the beauty which most women try to reach, are set at unattainable highs and that there are only a few out there in today’s society that have any chance of reaching such standards. Through this article, Gerber examines two sides of society’s affect on the appearance of women. Mentioning Self-Destruction and Self-Improvement, gives the readers a sense of awareness as how largely our society affects us individually, as women. He writes,
“The barrage of messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tells "ordinary" women that they are always in need of adjustment—and that the female body is an object to be perfected.”
Not only is this quote true, but it gives the readers a wake-up call. Don’t think of yourself as an object to be perfected, because you’re not.
P. McCabe, Marita. “Media influences on body image and disordered eating.” www.findarticles.com
Not only does society have an affect on an individual’s (here concerning women) self-esteem and confidence, but it affects cultures as well. McCabe mentioned how in most Western areas, the “ideal” image is shown to be extremely thin. It is important to recognize the differences with cultures and society’s influence on that specified culture because it is a huge difference in some. Not only does it have an overwhelming influence on cultures, but in race as well. White women described their ideal image to be much thinner than a black woman. This article will help me in my researching and to prove the undeniable influence of the media on women’s self-images.
Lightstone, Judy. www.edreferral.com/body_image.html “Improving Body Image.”
In this online article, Lightstone discusses how our (women’s) body image involves our own perceptions, emotions, imagination and physical sensations of our bodies. She lets her readers accept the fact that our bodies are ever changing and sensitive. Our self-image is affected greatly by our own self-esteem and is altered and dampened by our society and its expectations of a woman.
"If we place pornography and the tyranny of slenderness alongside one another we have the two most significant obsessions of our culture, and both of them focused upon a woman's body." -Kim Chernin
Developing an obsession with our appearance and images in society is not something that is taught or learned. It is also not something that you are “born with.” This obsession develops over time, through aging and our comparisons to others. She writes how our psychological boundaries develop early in life and though at a young age, we are still strongly affected without even knowing it. For example: being nurtured when you were a baby/child. If you are not used to touch, then that may cause you to have an insecure and foggy sense of your size and shape. It also may lead you to not allow others into your life on multiple levels, meaning intimately or not. In addition, a person, if depressed or experienced other anxieties or had an abusive childhood, may use their eating habits as a way out, or lack there of, meaning starvation. Concluding, she gave her readers the 3 A’s: Attention: refers to listening for and responding to internal cues. Appreciation: refers to appreciating the pleasures your body can provide. Lastly, Acceptance: refers to accepting what is, instead of longing for what is not.
Costin, Carolyn. “Sociocultural Influences on Eating, Weight and Shape.” (1999)
In this article, not only is it important to realize the influence that society has on women, but also to really know and understand some facts. Costin asks:
“What is the cause and effect when our female fashion models weigh 23 percent less than the average American female? What is the implication when adolescent girls are snorting cocaine, not to get high, but to lose weight? What has become of our society when 80 percent of fourth-grade girls report they are dieting, with 10 percent of those reporting the use of self-induced vomiting? What have we done to females who claim they would rather be dead than fat?”
“In an advertisement featuring an extremely thin model and the slogan, "Just the Right Shape," one wonders what is being sold, the body or the outfit? Media advertisements like these both reflect and shape our perceptions and standards of beauty.”
Later, Costin wrote how as the diets continue to get more and more popular with more and more advertisements, the number of women with anorexia increases. She states that young girls who judge themselves and are insecure or experience low self-esteem to so because of the young women they see in the media, being thin as a rail. She wrote that we tend to judge and base our shapes and sizes around what others look like. She follows up with that because women have gone through so much in the past and their “place” in society has varied over the years, politically, economically and so forth, thinness has come to not only symbolize control of oneself, but also wealth and freedom.
Hauser, Brooke. In Premiere Magazine, “The Girl Can’t Help It.” (2006)
This magazine is full of gossip and of course, up with the latest trends, but in this article, Lindsay Lohan was interviewed about her life in the eyes of everyone. The media has taken Lohan down some tough roads, as it was expressed in this article. She (Lohan) said that it’s hard living in front of a camera or having her life written down in magazines, such as this one.
“When Lohan arrives to a photo shoot for Premiere, she doesn’t so much walk as charge forward, leaving a “whoosh” where the memory of a ponytail might have been. After making a few introductions, she beelines towards the racks of clothes and rows of shoes. Before long, she is wearing nothing but curlers and a pair of sheer nude underwear, rummaging through various slips and dresses as a stylist yells, ‘Where are the chicken cutlets?’ Pins, emery boards and brushes are brandished as a tailor, a manicurist and a hair guru descends on Lohan, now outfitted and sitting under the lights.”
She is being all made up, to fit in with what society wants to see her as. Almost every interview with Lohan, she is asked about her dramatic weight loss. Her arms merely dangle to her sides and she barely fills her clothes out. One interviewer asked her if she threw up in the bathroom all the time. Hauser wrote on Lohan, “Before her 18th birthday, Lohan was fielding questions about the size of her breasts and whether or not they were real. Says Madsen, “I mean, nobody asks teenage boys, ‘Do you have pubic hair yet?’ ‘What size are your balls?’ Whereas they’ll ask a teenage girl, ‘Are you still a virgin?’”
This magazine article, not only supports the fact that women are viewed more as objects in society, but more importantly, that Lohan, after “growing up” has become subjected to society’s need of fitting in, being thin and beautiful; having that perfect shape.
R. Hirschmann, Jane and H. Munter, Carol. “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies.” (1995)
Throughout this book, Munter and Hirschmann discuss heavily the affects of dieting and that it is not the diet that is the problem, but more the dieter. Following, they state though that it has now become a miracle if you can hear anyone say “I’m not dieting.” Women have become so obsessed with their weight they will do anything to “fit in” and “be thin.” The authors wrote:
“The message for women, in particular, is that our bodies are not right and that, in order to make them right, we must eat as little as possible. This message is prominently conveyed in the windows of shops all over this country, broadcast over the airwaves, and plastered on pages of magazines and newspapers.”
The authors wrote that as women become more and more powerful in our culture, they feel the need to be smaller, or as one may say, “less.” There was an ad discussed in this book for Dynatrim that read, “In 14 days be less of a person.” This book helped me realize how easily women succumb to the wants or needs of other people, without realizing what exactly they are doing to themselves as individuals. Hirschmann and Munter stated how women feel “bad” carrying around food, especially if it’s not “healthy.” One woman was interviewed while being on a diet and she received no bad looks or comments, and was eventually congratulated on her will-power. After her dieting was over, she had a small jar of M&M’s on her desk at her work and said she was shocked at the comments. This shows that women are expected to be thin and in shape. If they are not, then they should be prepared for looks and comments.
M. Berg, Frances. “Women Afraid to Eat.” (2000)
Frances wrote how, like previously stated in other sources, we cannot go anywhere without seeing beautiful, tall, thin women in advertisements or on television shows. This book, especially in Chapter 2 titled: Our Culture Fails to Nurture Women, discusses how the “average” woman is becoming smaller and smaller.
“It is a slimmer, more dissipated vision…reedy, women with hollow curves and sinewy lines…small, frail-looking…wan and disengaged…austere as the times…human coat hangers…Clothes fall off them.”
Year by year, women, for example in Playboy and Miss America Pageant are representing the five percent of women who are actually that small. What about the other 95% of us out there? Who will represent that real average woman? Today, models have 25% less body fat than the average woman. A massive increase from the earlier and much lower number of only 5%. Dr. David Greenfeld, a medical director of the Yale-New Haven Hospital Adolescent and Young Adult Treatment Unit commented, “Pathologically underweight women are being held up as cultural ideals.” Once again, how is that helping our society, when there are so few of them making it that much harder to connect with our “models?”
Chernin, Kim. “The Obsession: Reflections of the Tyranny of Slenderness.” New York, (1981)
In this book, Chernin discuses the woman’s obsession to be thin; that we go to extreme matters to achieve the “ultimate, accepted” look in today’s society and culture. She wrote how it all traces back to when we were born. Our first touch, as children, was the feeling of leaving our mothers body, and from that moment, developing our own. She wrote how it was important to realize this, because our first touch not only is in women, but it is the same touch to men. Later, she mentions how men in our society, even wish for women to be smaller for the mere fact that if they were bigger, it reminds them of their inferiority and how they CAME from a woman, so they should be equal to them. Not only does our society and our surroundings make women feel insecure, but to a point where we feel, literally, “less.” Not only does this add to our self-esteem, says Chernin, but it aids to the increase of depression and insecurities around the world of women.
McPhee, Larkin. “Dying to be Thin.” Boston (2000)
This is not a textbook or an online article. The listed above is a movie of a young girl who is “dying to be thin.” She is fourteen years old, looks at herself in the mirror and says, “I see somebody that is fat and ugly and a disappointment.” McPhee adds that she is like a growing number of girls in America who are afflicted with eating disorders. She states that because we (women) fear of being fat, this fear has only aided in the numbers increasing to nearly eight million people torturing themselves, sometimes even to death.
McPhee states that,
“…because we are influenced by waif-like images of popular actresses, models, dancers and celebrities, young girls become obsessed with an unattainable image of perfection.”
Unattainable is the word here. Why be so obsessed when we know that the goal of being, “waif-like” or “model worthy” is an unreachable goal. The movie is narrated by Susan Sarandon, following young girls who are seeking recovery from their obsessive lives or who have conquered their disease and have finally seen that such a goal is not worth it.
Mickelsen O, and Taylor, H L. www.edauk.com 2005
This question and answer form on www.edauk.com allows readers to know that the average model weighs much less than the average woman not in the modeling business and that to reach this goal, it is nearly impossible. They write that more than 90% of eating disorders occurs in women, and nearly half of that is due to the undying need to be thin that media puts out to young girls in magazines, TV shows etc. And in the past three decades, this number has nearly doubled. If the media and multiple advertisements continue to say that being ‘fat’ is okay, then why do they use nothing but the tall, thin beautiful women in their advertisements, especially when being so is unreachable to many girls out there, especially teenagers who appear to be the most vulnerable and influential.