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How The Standards Of Beauty Have Changed

1689 words - 7 pages

When most girls are little, their minds and imaginations illuminate at the sight of the beloved Disney princesses, with beautiful ball gowns, perfect hair, and dainty waists, as they start to become their first heroines. They grow up a little and play with Barbies, dressing her for day on the beach or a date with Ken. Soon enough, these girls are up flipping through magazines, in awe of a movie star’s dress that perfectly silhouettes her body, or of a model at the Victoria Secret Fashion Show who walks with such a calm cool. These girls become immune to the sight of women with a perfect physique, the very images of the thin ideal. It is accepted as the norm, as something to strive for. Although the standards of beauty have changed in the past sixty years, media images still depict women with perfect, unattainable bodies, and increased exposure to media has resulted in more women losing confidence in their own bodies, driving them to use advertised methods to fruitlessly attain physical perfection.
Although some aspects of the standards of beauty have changed in the past sixty years, the media portrayal of women with perfect bodies, have created insecurities among women as they internalize the thin ideal. The frenzy for a skinny body is by no means a 21st century trend. After World War II, America brought its focus back to the home life. Replacing patriotic propaganda, the media became dominated by advertisements for products to enhance everyday life. Practically all of these advertisements, whether it be for cigarettes or washing machines, were graced by the presence of a beautiful woman. In a 1950 advertisement for Barbasol Shaving Cream, a beautiful woman with perfect hair, make-up, and manicured nails is caressing a man’s face who had used the shaving cream, emphasizing the smooth results. However, what stands out is the woman’s body, highlighted by her short skirt and bikini top. The model is following the standards for beauty set by the media that encourages weight loss to achieve the “golden measurements”- a 35 inch chest, 23 inch waist, and 35 inch hips. An advertisement for Libby’s Tomato Juice is promoting the beverage as a way to obtain those measurements if “you’re trying for Miss America’s measurements”. These advertisements led to negative affects on women, specifically teens. According to one study, after World War II, 62% of high school girls reported dieting regularly, and 37% were currently on a diet (Dwyer, Feldman & Mayer, 1967). The demand for thinness continued until the 1980s, “the exercise era”, when the ideal evolved to become more toned and athletic. However, this led to an even more unhealthy lifestyle when women combined excessive exercising with severe dieting (Harrison & Cantor, 1997). The ideal body then evolved back to skinny in the 90s, following increased popularity of shows like Baywatch where characters are extremely skinny (Tantleff-Dunn, 2001), leading American women to internalize the thin ideal and...

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