The use of messages and images that promote the

The
media has profoundly influenced the society through the use of messages and
images that promote the presumed and almost unattainable perfect body image of
beauty that has led to body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating that mostly
predominant among girls. Throughout the years, the media has developed
unrealistic body image that is deemed to represent perfect beauty. The body
image is a concern to many people since the society tends to center their
judgment on a person based on how their body looks like. In this media
analysis, I chose to analyze the music video “Pretty Hurts”
by Beyoncé and a print advertisement entitled “Perfect
Body” by Victoria’s Secrets.

Throughout
the video “Pretty Hurts, Beyoncé illustrates the negative body image that women
struggle with. The music video illustrates the futility of the beauty standards
set by the society in which many women struggle to conform to them. Beyoncé is
seen as pageant representing the idea of beauty in the western culture which is
based on the body image. In the first three seconds of the video, Beyoncé is
seen with short hair and is seen later with long hair since it is required that
she change her image in order to contest for the beauty pageant. Another
crucial scene that focuses on appearance in the first minute of the video is
where we see several pageants in the dressing room, brushing their hair,
whitening their teeth, spray-tanning, and scuffling with each other all in the
name of seeking beauty. In the second minute where the song begins, Beyoncé
reveals the perception of what society perceives beauty when she says that her
mother tells her that what matters is not what is in her head but how she
dresses and fixes her hair. This shows how appearance is used as the standard
of beauty by the society.

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What
I find more thought-provoking about the negative body image media standards of
beauty is the lyrics that criticize the TV which says “bigger is better” and
vogue which says “thinner is better” which are contradicting views of ideal
body image. This is a depiction of the struggle that women go through in their
attempt to conform to the presumed beauty standards where the thin struggle to
get bigger while the big want to become thinner. In the middle scenes, some
pageants take diet pills after failing to meet the expected body weight and
size. This reveals the ideas of body shaming which leads the contestants to
adapt diet culture and eating disorders. At one scene, Beyoncé is seen kneeling
before a toilet and walks across the bathroom stall while wiping her mouth after
vomiting suggesting her scuffle with bulimia. Another contestant who is slim
with her ribs showing consumes cotton balls together with orange juice which is
a dangerous dieting trend. The song uses the negativity of body image in order
to send a positive message that all the struggle in conforming to the beauty
standards through dietary, surgery, and make-up don’t correlate to happiness.
In fact, all that she can think when asked about her aspirations in life is
that she wants only to be happy. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXXQLa-5n5w).

 

In
2014, Victoria’s Secrets released an advertisement of their lingerie sale
entitled “Perfect Body.” The advertisement illustrated women who were about five
foot and ten inches tall, unnaturally skinny, unusual curves and who seemed to
have little fat or no fat at all. On top of the images of these women, the
slogan “Perfect Body” is featured. This made it seem as though the company was
depicting the standards of how a woman with a perfect body should look like.
Although below the advert they explain about bra collection underneath the ad,
they do not mention bras in the advert which sends the message that the ad is
talking about the women being perfect. According to this ad, a woman cannot be
perfect unless she looks like the models used in the ad which is a common
perception in today’s society. Women are struggling to lose weight in order to
look skinny. Other women wouldn’t agree that skinny is the ideal perfect body.

The
advert led to a massive uproar from customers and other people who argued there
is no ideal perfect body. Many women felt that their bodies are perfect and the
ad propagated a negative body image that would result in dietary disorders if
women were to attempt to conform to the ad’s perfect body. The Victoria’s
Secret Company reacted to the upheaval by altering the mantra into “A Body for
Every Body” but never altered the images of the model women. Changing the
slogan did not change the initial perception since the entire advert was
offensive not just their slogan. By using skinny and tall models along with the
slogan of the perfect body, Victoria’s Secret was suggesting the conventional
standards of beauty that many women who suffer from eating disorders attempt to
achieve. (http://www.businessinsider.com/victorias-secret-perfect-body-campaign-2014-10?IR=T)

 

The Relationship between Eating Disorders and Western
Culture

Cultural
beliefs have been associated with influencing the development of eating
disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa. The rates of the eating
disorders vary across different cultures and are greatly influenced by the
evolvement of cultures. The eating disorders are more prevalent in the western
culture and is predominant among females than it is the case with males. I
think one of the contributing factors is the dissemination of body image
messages that suggest the western standards of beauty among both males and
females. The blend of universal standards of beauty and eating behaviors causes
a profound confusion and body image dissatisfaction, particularly among many
young people. In my opinion, the construct of body image is influenced by both
individual and cultural factors and affect many people in the western society.
Today, the western society is filled with ideologies of the ideal body image
that has been developed by the media. The western movies, cinemas, magazines,
adverts and many other media feature model body images that reinforce the
beauty stereotypes.

The
idealization of a slim female body by the western Hollywood is one of the
probable cause of anorexic food restriction among many women who are afraid of
gaining weight. I think it has become a contemporary trend where every woman
wants to lose weight in order to have a slender body image which is presumed as
a standard of beauty. The ideal beauty of a woman is not based on the slim body
image, and it’s unfortunate that the western society equates perfect beauty
with a thin female body. From Beyoncé’s song “Pretty Hurts,” she decries the
saying that “thinner is better” which is a Eurocentric conventional beauty
standard that pressurizes women to meet these conventional standards. In order
to conform to the cultural beauty standards, many women develop eating
disorders in the process. The print media also disseminates ads that feature
sublime women who are tall and slender which suggest that for a woman to be
beautiful, she must look like that.  For
instance, although the American Victoria’s Secrets Company sells bra
collections for all women, their advert uses tall and slender females only with
the slogan “the perfect body.” When women attempt to transform their body image
through unnatural means, they result in developing eating disorders. The
emphasis of the body appearance by the media is detrimental to the consumer’s
health. I also come across health diet adverts that claim to cause a massive weight
loss within few days, and many women end up focusing on over-consuming such
commercialized diets to the detriment of their health. I strongly believe that
fear of gaining weight is irrational and starvation, in order to gain a slender
body, is unnecessary.

In
addition to mass media, there are other socialization agents in the western
culture such as peers, families, role models, and schools that influence the
body image perception. The desire to look like a particular friend who has a
slender body may make someone to resolve to weight loss and dieting that
progress to diet restriction and finally develops anorexia nervosa. The
struggle of the young people to fit in and gain attention makes them result in
unnatural diets to improve their appearance. It is not a surprise that even
school going children are concerned about their body image. In fact, eating
disorders are common even in the educational institutions. Children who are
termed as fat by their friends may result in anorexic food restriction while those
who are termed as skinny may develop binge eating. There is a great tendency
for children who are seen as fat to have no friends which make them
dissatisfied with their appearance. In my opinion, the reason why some people
are rejected by others based on their appearance is due to the western culture
which dictates how one should look like in order to be accepted.

I
also think that there is a high correlation between eating disorders and the
family environment. The parents are very influential people to their children
and to those they interact with. Children consider their parents and role
models, and they tend to copy their behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. In the
case of mothers who are constantly worried about their weight and are always on
diets, the children are likely to develop similar attitudes associated with
abnormal eating behaviors. Parental advice also has great impacts on how the
child perceives beauty and diets. For example in the lyrics of Beyoncé’s song
“Pretty Hurts,” she says that her mother is the one who told her that she is
pretty as long as she keeps her focus on appearance and not on her intellect.
This is an illustration of the western parenting where the children are
introduced to the societal convention standards of beauty while still young.
With such great negative parental influence, the western children adapt
abnormal eating habits as they grow. I believe that if parents were to focus on
the positive development of their children, it is natural that they will grow
to accept their appearance and would have problems related to diets or eating
habits. The children who learn to admire their positive relationship with their
parents would want to be more like them. Instead of focusing their admiration
on a particularly slender and sublime celebrity model, the children would
imitate their parents. It is my strong opinion that parents have the capacity
to end the vicious cycle of eating disorders in the western culture depending
on how they raise their children.

The
association of self-starvation with the ideal body image is a construct that
has greatly affected the contemporary generation. Although almost all cultures
have been affected by the stereotype of the ideal body image, the western
culture has been the central focus. The cultural pressure on people to conform
to the conventional beauty standards has led to an increase in diet unrealistic
solutions for weight loss and weight gain. The confusion between which is the
perfect body image has made the thin to result in binge eating in order to gain
weight while the fat goes for anorexic food starvation to gain a slender body.
I believe if we change the stereotyped cultural belief, we can protect the
population from eating disorders. The western culture is being copied in the
developing countries which mean that they will inherit the same problems that
are prevalent in the western culture. The media is a significant platform that
promotes social-cultural interactions on a global mechanism. If we change the
media messages with regards to dieting and beauty standards, people will learn
to accept themselves and avoid engaging in abnormal eating habits. In my
opinion, beauty is just an individual perception based on the dictation of the
cultural standards, and if the culture eliminated the conventional beauty
standards, people would be satisfied with their looks. Although the western
culture is not directly related to eating disorders, I believe it creates a
favorable environment that promotes eating disorders.

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