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Beauty Culture: An Examination The Effects Media Has On Society

1954 words - 8 pages

Society is obsessed with being beautiful. One just has to examine the amount differing beauty industries earn early for this fact to be evident. For example, the diet industry is a thirty-three billion dollar industry, with the cosmetic industry following close behind with twenty billion yearly (Wolf 16). However, this obsession with beauty is not without cause. As stated in Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women, and Children, “In affluent Western societies, slenderness is generally associated with happiness, success, youthfulness, and social acceptability. Being overweight is linked to laziness, lack of willpower, and being out of control.”(Grogan 325) Despite common misconceptions, body image affects all groups of people. Consequently, the image people have of themselves and the way that they react to it differ greatly according to a variety of factors including sex, age, culture, and especially, the media they have been exposed to (Fox 2). The cultural standard of beauty, as displayed through the media, affects all groups of people to different extents.
The spark that lights the flame of our cultures beauty obsession is the ideal image displayed by the media. Due to advertisement and media, the cultural standard of beauty is widely publicized and accepted (Wykes 146), meaning that “beautiful people” are constantly being seen a great deal more than they have been in the past (Fox 1). While mass media does have many positive benefits, it also has severe consequences (Phelps and Charles 1). Meaning, that mass media is having negative influences on the mindsets of the general populace with regards to self image and stereotypes. One message sent out by the media is that only those who are underweight are beautiful (Lerner and Lerner 303). Attempting to emulate the body images exhibited by the media can harm ones mental and physical health (Phelps and Charles 1). Additionally, the images shown by media are causing the majority of the population to form negative stereotype. For instance, in one study it was found that thin and fat students alike held the same stereotypes. The importance being that even overweight students held negative stereotypes of “fat” people (Grogan 363). Furthermore, experiments have discovered that exposure to television, especially advertisements, and magazines, particularly fashion magazines, can cause a decrease in positive self image (Fox 5). Likewise, limiting exposure to specific media sources has a beneficial effect on a person’s self image (Beauty (Mis)represented 3). In fact, magazines that fall under the same category as Vogue and Elle have been outlawed in several eating disorder clinics because of their proven negative influence on a patient’s self-image (Fox 5). To come to the point, media has a widespread negative affect on the general public’s self image because of the messages it sends out and it’s largely unavoidable presence.
Highly concerning is the affect that beauty culture and...

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