Body Image Essay

2130 words - 9 pages

Body Image

               
     "Just Be" is a familiar slogan to the current American culture. It is the slogan of a well-known designer, Calvin Klein, who, in his advertisements, supposedly promotes individuality and uniqueness. Yet, Calvin Klein, along with all known designers, does not have overweight or unattractive people on his billboard ads, on his runways, in his magazine pictures or on his television commercials. Moreover, the movie, music and the mass media corroborate with the fashion industry in setting and advertising a certain standards for a physical ideal of a human body. Such propaganda promotes the public into depriving themselves of needed nutrition and generates eating disorders within people in order to fit the set standard of the physical ideal.

The negative attitude towards overweight population of the modern society is a sociocultural phenomenon. Yet, historically the negativity towards excess in weight was not constant. If one examines the artwork as relatively recent as the works of the Renaissance period, it can be witnessed that women who were somewhat "chunky," were considered beautiful and they were painted and sculpted. "Fleshy" men and women are in the masterpieces of such artist as Michelangelo, de Vinci, Rafael, Goya y Lucientes and etc. Love handles, fat deposits and skin folds were regarded as attractive and were applauded. Cleopatra, for example, was praised for her beauty, yet by modern standards she would be considered overweight. Aphrodite, the goddess of love and the image of perfection, is also viewed as overweight and thickset in the contemporary society and would not be painted or sculpted as "heavy set" as she has been created previously. Nonetheless, she was painted in accordance with the timely regards of beauty. Thus, it
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may be observed that during that time frame, as well as during most of the historic periods, the full figured body was preached as normal and ideal and was, though not as intensely and as high-tech, commercialized to the public and society.

     The change in the beauty standard has been observed since 1970's, when beauty pageant contestants, actresses and models began to continuously show a decrease in weight. The analysis of the weight of advertised models, contestants and playboy centerfolds showed that over sixty percent of all sample had a fifteen percent less body weight than expected according to their height. Such results are alarming, for in accordance with American Psychiatric Association, being at least fifteen percent below expected body weight is a symptom of anorexia nervosa (Kristen Harrison, 1997). Therefore, the commendation of such look and shape commercializes unhealthy body image and procreates eating disorders. Unfortunately, at present the commercialism of a perfect body is encountered by almost everyone on everyday basis. The public is bombarded daily with images of glamorously thin...

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