I feel that advertising should stop promoting unrealistic body ideals for women. This constant exposure to female-oriented advertisements influences girls to become self-conscious about their bodies and to obsess over their physical appearance as a measure of their worth. Models depicted in these ads are always slim, smart and airbrushed to perfection. Young girls start believing that to be reality and in an attempt to attain this ideal body weight and structure, often go to extreme, unnecessary lengths. While staying fit and healthy is definitely the need of the day, starving oneself or going on the latest ‘fad’ diet or becoming so obsessed about one’s weight that it’s the only thought on one’s mind, definitely counts as being unhealthy.
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Since a long time now, thinness has become the standard for female beauty. Whether they are models on the catwalk or on television, their thinness is a goal very difficult to achieve unless one is blessed with it. As I write this essay, I realize that I am actually one of the lucky few who are blessed with a fast metabolic rate and can eat just about a lot of everything without gaining the extra pounds associated with that food. And while I might have been awkwardly skinny in my teenage years and under constant scrutiny nonetheless about why I was so thin, I realize that the pressure which over- or above average- weighted girls are under is something in different league altogether. From the onset of the time when they become conscious about their appearance, and that time is starting to come earlier and earlier in the lives of young girls with passing times, they feel the urge to compare themselves to the so-called perfection they witness on TV and in magazines when it comes to body types and weight.
These women are flawless: they have the perfect hair, lips, nose, eyes, skin, complexion and body. What many women may not fully appreciate or grasp, however, is that many of the faces and bodies plastered on magazine covers, television screens, movie posters, and billboards are maintained through unhealthy or unnatural means. In more and more cases, too, the images are literally impossible to achieve, as they are generated via computer software such as Photoshop which makes it possible to make legs look longer or thinner, air-brush away imperfections, and even manufacture a beautiful face and form by combining the ‘perfect’ parts from several different women. It is this lack of understanding which leads to a lot of unnecessary stress which women take upon themselves to attain perfection.
No longer is a little extra here and there okay. No longer is it a sign of individuality or uniqueness. It must be shed off and taken care of, by hook or by crook. The latest trendy diet, rigorous exercise regimens, unhealthy eating habits which barely provide enough nutrition for sustenance, eating disorders, mental disorders like depression and esteem issues, and even plastic surgery – all are options considered by young girls as they worry and decide how to look just like this model or that.
Maybe the most alarming point is that they actually believe that the way they look is the key to their success in all of life’s areas. They can not be blamed for this misconception as all over the media, they see their favorite celebrities, elevated to role-model status in their minds, being rich, successful, having it all, and being thin and sometimes, painfully so. It is truly a sign of horribly skewed media portrayals that has fed this notion into young girls minds from a very young age that one’s personality, career, life choices are all subordinate to the way one looks. Hence, it is up to the media now to undo the damage it has already done. While a lot of companies have started advertising using ‘real’-sized models and there has been a lot of media publicity against skinny models and eating disorders, there is a lot more which needs to still be done. Unrealistic body ideals should stop being promoted and the whole concept of one’s appearance being the sole determinant of one’s success should be eradicated from society.