The Damaging Effects of Female Beauty in Society

by kayla_bourbon on October 3, 2016 - 5:07pm

http://: time.com/3964758/body-shaming-black-female-athletes/Tennis player Serena Williams is one of the top ranked female tennis players in the world with a record of twenty one straight wins as of 2015. Yet, she earned less in prize money and endorsements compared to her competitors that lost to her. Before you ask, no this has nothing to do with race. It concerns a completely different problem that we as a society sadly face; body shaming. Therefore, companies that pay endorsers, like athletes/celebrities, don't care how good of an athlete they are. They only care if they look good in their ads. In other words, media wants to showcase the western cultural ideal of beauty and perfection. This happened again with ballerina, Misty Copeland when she was rejected from the American Ballet Theater. She was told that she lacked the right feet, Achilles tendons, turnout, torso length, and bust. What's most shocking is that she was body shamed at thirteen !

 

What is considered the "right look", when it comes to how one presents themselves?  There is no correct answerer because as society evolves, so does its answers.  How we determine perfection and what is deemed beautiful  is all based off what society sees as fit. Even Misty Copeland was told by the public that she doesn’t have the body to be a dancer and that her legs are too muscular and shouldn’t be wearing a tutu. What I want to know is who has the audacity to tell someone they can’t do what they love because they have “the wrong body type”. It seems like we as a society have established this definition of beauty so narrow that it's impossible for anyone to live up to its unrealistic expectations. I feel like advertisements especially are causing women in particular to become desperate, self-conscious and basically dissatisfied with their overall presence. Like I mentioned before, advertisements are the major source of body shaming due to ads depicting the thin ideal.  Marketing is a crucial benefactor in the consumer industry. Professionals in this field try to trick the mind of the individual into making them believe that what they are seeing is in a positive attribute and can improve their everyday life. This theory is often referred to as MBA or in other words, making bad assumptions. This evidence can support the reason why a majority of the models or actors  in advertisements are most likely between the sizes of 0 to 6. An example of this is often seen in designer billboard campaigns, magazine covers and Victoria Secret ads.  The industry is advocating the message that  beauty only comes in one shape or size; thin. Thus, one's mind starts to think in the form of rigidity or thinking in only one way, in which that way must be the only right way. Our most primitive unit of our thoughts is an image and that image is perfection.  In my opinion, I find this fake beauty because is it really natural ? Last time I checked, photo-enhancing, lighting, makeup, and other morphing techniques weren’t considered natural.

 

Another problem in advertisements is the portrayal of women's femininity. Where men are considered strong, tough, and bold, women are portrayed as weak fragile, delicate, sensitive, vulnerable, etc. I think the reason why Serena was body shamed and referred to as one of the “Williams brothers”is because she is such a strong, powerful, and athletic women who defies the common characteristics society has “picked out” for females. Actresses like Kerry Washington and Lupita Nyong'o aren’t picked on because they fit into society’s petty image of beauty and are showcased in high fashion magazine spreads around the world.

 

Fascinated by this topic, I wanted to further my knowledge on the subject by looking into media advertisements on a more specific level and how they affect the individual in a more personal way. Research I found suggests that exposure to mass media depicting the thin-ideal body may be linked to body image disturbance in women.  Correlation studies I viewed show links between media exposure to women's body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal, and eating behaviors.  Society has provided us with unrealistic expectations of woman and how they must look to be considered "attractive". A woman's response to particular media images concerning body type can have negative effects.  When women compare themselves with the thin and beautiful images in the media, this almost invariably represents an upward social comparison in which they find them self lacking.   It’s almost like advertising profits depend on the desperation of women and their excessive need to be considered attractive in the eyes of society. All in all, desperation makes money. A prime example of this is the amount of money women spend to fulfill these needs.  I find it baffling that the average women spends about $15,000 on makeup over her lifespan instead of investing in more practical things, like a retirement fund.

 

In my opinion, the key word associated with what society portrays to women  is nothing more than brainwashing. An example of this is Maria Sharapova, a 6 foot 2 and 130 pounds russian tennis player that admits she wishes she could be even thinner: “I always want to be skinnier with less cellulite; I think that’s every girl’s wish.” How sad is the fact that this is what most girls desire? All in all, I find it pitaville that we live in a world where we need insecurity to sell products and eating disorders to cope with our feelings of self lacking. Hopefully,  women in this country can see past the fake  advertisements and body shaming tactics and have the strength to push past all that negativity and overcome the idealisms that society has laid out for us.

 

 

 

Jabbar, K. A. (2016, July 20). : Body Shaming Black Female Athletes Is Not Just About Race. Retrieved September 26, 2016,  time.com/3964758/body-shaming-black-female-athletes 

Comments

I was interested in knowing more about body image as I believe this issue is really important and universal. I believe females as well as males are affected by this matter in our everyday life, but had not considered how important this issue is in sports. The fact that you address the problem with endorsers and advertisements, gender roles as well as your passion for this topic motivated me to seek more information.
I was shocked to learn that athletes are chosen in function of their appearance to endorse products. You also stress the major role media plays in the propagation of the image of an ideal female body type which I believe is revolting. Indeed, despite the fact that humans are genetically very similar, many body types exist and I do not understand why corporations should have the right to dictate which characteristics are desirable. Your article made me realize how absurd some of our channels are here, where I live. For instance, one of them offers many TV shows that objectify women. Indeed, males make a lot of statements on how women should look like. One of them described a female saying: “She’s got tattoos, she’s tanned, she’s got blond hair, you know. Could be a super freak in the bed which I like…” while others comment girls’ attributes that they find unsatisfying.
When you say that you “want to know is who has the audacity to tell someone they can’t do what they love because they have ‘the wrong body type’”, it made me think of the concept of systematic racism. As we saw in class, systematic racism “consists of policies and practices, entrenched in established institutions that result in the exclusion or advancement of specific groups of people” (Henry and Tator, 2000). Unfortunately, many immigrants in our country also have “the wrong body type” and have a lot of difficulty finding work. Some institutions refuse to employ Arab people or whoever have a name that sounds unfamiliar. As they do not look like the majority, they have a lot of difficulty to integrate into our strict society. Also, I believe the concept of systemic discrimination applies to your topic. As you mentioned, women who do not correspond to endorsers’ expectations might not be encouraged or fully rewarded despite their talent.

The main idea that encompassed this post made me want to delve further into the ideas that you were trying to get across. To begin, I agree with you when you say that body shaming is something that is present and problematic on an international level. The entertainment industry, whether we are talking about sports or artistic expression, is a business that relies heavily upon competition. Yes: marketing is a crucial part of the consumer industry and with that, advertising has portrayed an ideal (not necessarily positive) of women all the while contrasting it to that of men. Is this right? No. Is it what makes a lot of money? Yes. Now those who get picked on, as you said in your article, are those who break from the mold of femininity-when talking about women. This plays out as such because a business that relies intensely on its consumers initiates one ‘supposed’ version of perfection, which in the long and short run create and aggressive and competitive environment. On the other hand, you are unbelievably right when you say that the media preys on the desperation of women who strive to reach that one version of perfection. The points you discussed in this article are strong and accurate. I would just watch the details a little, as speaking from experience it is very normal for a ballerina to be rejected out of ‘lacking the right feet’. Turnout and Achilles tendons are not associated with body shaming but have everything to do with your ability to execute certain movements.

The concepts of marketing and advertising that were brought about relate somewhat to the terms explicit and implicit, which we are discussing in class. We talk about these words in terms of racism but lets look at them in terms of gender. Explicit racism refers to the belief that one’s own race is superior to others. Consequently, I think it is fair to say that the media is explicit in the way that it deems the ideal woman (all about femininity) to be above others who perceive their feminine role in society differently.

I was drawn to this post by the title, as I have always believed that the media's depiction of female beauty is wrong and very biased. I was surprised when I read the first line of your post as it instantly led me to think that the article about Serena Williams was more linked to racism and that your title was misleading, but as I read on I found that the title and the rest of your post were in fact a good way to put the article in context and give it a wider analysis. Since I am currently taking a course that focuses on the myth of races and of racism, I am ready to argue that even though racism might not be the main reason why Serena has earned less in prize money than her competitors, it still has to be taken into consideration as frequently, racism is hidden and implicit. Likewise, the fact that thin women are usually the ones chosen for advertisements is a small detail that has gradually had an effect on society, and sadly has led some women to think that if they look different from those on TV, they are not as good and beautiful. You explained the consequences of this mentality in great detail and provided many relevant examples. I must say, after reading your post, I went straight to the article to read it as you had introduced it well and motivated me to learn more about specific facts of body-shaming, such as the fact that it is considered “every girl's wish” to be skinnier.

About the author