Idealized Images of Women

August 20, 2011
By , Toronto, Canada
What are idealized images of women? They are ‘barbified’ images of women that are retouched and unattainable. Women always compare themselves and are compared to the idealized body image that they’re exposed to through media; which leads to dissatisfaction with their bodies, causing many to go to extremes to achieve the ‘thin’ ideal. “Advertising contributes to people’s attitudes about gender, sex, and violence” (Jean Kilbourne). Media manipulates our society into believing that all women should have the ‘thin’ ideal body image causing women to long pass the limit to be thin to fit in. “Do you know that 75% of the “normal” weight women think that they’re overweight and 80% of 10-year olds have dieted” (Advertising). “Researchers have found out that exposure to the idealized body image lowers women’s satisfaction with their bodies” (Advertising). Media creates the reality women live in. Not only that, idealized images of women damage average women’s physical health, mental health and their relationships with others.

Media has a very negative effect on average women’s physical health through advertising and promoting the ‘thin’ ideal. To reach that ideal, average women go through different methods and medicines advertised by the media which leads to deadly health issues. “A young woman read an article about diet pills used by Britney Spears and started using it which resulted into nearly dying” (Cooper). The ‘thin’ ideal leads women to unhealthy weight control habits like starvation as it’s unreachable for the most. “Researchers have discovered that the key thing causing eating disorders is dieting to reach the ideal” (Advertising). Women start having more health issues after being exposed to the ideal image. “After prolonged exposure to advertising images in teen girl magazines, girls who were already dissatisfied with their bodies, showed more dieting, anxiety and bulimic symptoms” (Advertising). The images that make media a fortune generate severe health and emotional issues for average women.

When the ideal body image is revealed to a woman, she feels ashamed of herself. After being exposed to the ‘thin’ ideal in advertisements, an average women’s respect for itself lowers. “It was shown in a study that women who have seen ‘thin’ models have lower self-esteem than women who have seen ‘normal’ models” (Advertising). Women go through depression after failing to reach the ideal image portrayed. “When women fail to achieve that ideal - 5”9, 100 pounds, they’re likely to feel sad, disappointed and ashamed of their bodies leading to depression” (Ramsey). Women become more and more insecure about themselves while being exposed to the ‘thin’ ideal. “In a sample, 68% of Stanford students felt worse about their own appearance after looking through women’s magazines” (Advertising). Advertisements do way more than just making a negative impact on a woman’s emotional health; they go beyond that.

Not only does Media hunt and destroy a woman’s healthiness and well-being, it also damages her relationship with others. The ideal body image portrayed, influences on how society looks at women. In “Killing Us Softly – 3” Jean Kilbourne talked about how media used the ‘thin’ ideal to sell sex using women as merely as objects. This leads the society to believe that women are nothing more than objects and should be treated like non-living objects, not caring about their feelings. The ‘thin’ ideal also puts a barrier between the relationship of a woman and her partner. Men see the ideal portrayed everywhere and are made to believe that all women should be like this or they don’t deserve the men, resulting into the men treating the women like their inferior. It also affects how women are treated between themselves. In our society, sometimes even women don’t understand the other’s pain and becomes the same as the men. Ultimately, media does make a women’s world and makes her feel ashamed of her in her own skin.

Media’s “innocent” way of selling products affects a women’s life way more than you can ever imagine. An average women’s physical health, mental health and their relationships with others are negatively affected by the “thin” ideal portrayed in the media in a day to day basis. Intentionally or unintentionally media does hurt a woman’s healthiness, mental well-being and her relationships a lot. Media implicates how women should be treated by the society. This has got to stop! Women should feel the best about themselves, de-emphasises weight, stop comparing themselves to others, don’t care about what others think and not let others influence themselves. As a society, we need to be aware that those images are impossible for average women to reach. We need to start analyzing the media critically and not live in the web of lies media creates. We have to start treating women rightly and stop media from affecting our lives. We, as a society need to change our perspective! We need to change how media portrays women and how it affects their lives.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Feathered_mortal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 28, 2011 at 1:05 am
This is great. As someone who is very interested in women's studies, I found this really interesting. It's also very factual which proves your point. Well done!
 
Feathered_mortal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 28, 2011 at 1:06 am
By the way, check out my piece 'For The Abolition of Sexism', and one that should be published on the website soon, 'Silent Warriors'. I think you'd be interested in them.
 
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