Body image has been portrayed as a significant concept in life particularly in women. Most women struggle to be part of a chart of the perceived perfect body. Unlike in the past where there was little influence of media, today, ideal body image has become an issue in contemporary society. Over the years, the concept of body image has undergone a tremendous transformation with the perfect body particularly that of women viewed as not static. We are living in a time where women do not accept their natural beauty without changing the way they look. Generally, each generation has had their perfect Body image which is an image of a person's beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and actions regarding their physical appearance. However, in contemporary society, the media among other aspects perpetuate an image of people. This paper looks at the changes of the female perceived perfect body over the years with the influence of media in the 21st Century.
How Body Image Has Changed Over Time
The female body has been viewed as an object of beauty and attraction over the decades. There were and still are some attributes associated with beauty that a woman had/have, to be viewed as having an ideal body. These attributes include but not limited to a perfect height, size and shape. In fact, in most dinner parties the topics are always the ideal shape of a woman. Nothing has changed on the crucial topic except that there has a drastic change in the fashion industry and the media perception of the ideal body shape. Gone are the days that beauty came with a voluminous body for wives. Thin women were considered not beautiful, and they would do anything to put on weight. However, that has not been the case from the 1900s and on.
In 1910 the perfect body of women according to an article by Maria Hart '' See How Much the ''Perfect'' Female Body Has Changed in 100 Years ( it is crazy)'' has been changing every past decade. Starting with the Gibson's Girl that dominated on how a perfect woman should look like, women with tall and tall bodies, boobs and hips were considered perfect women. While most women struggled to fit in this category, the 1920 woman with a slender but boyish body and shorter hair stood in for the woman with a perfect body. Then came women associate with power during and after the world war. The perfect woman body was defined as that with fashionable broad shoulders a womanly stature and posture that gave a woman an angular shape. After the world war woman, then came the 1950's woman of media era. This woman had to be all curvy and womanly resolving to an image of an hourglass. Many of the actresses who won media auditions possessed these features. The intrusion of media and technology has overturned the whole fashion in the world leading to an era of perfect body image as seen on the screens.
The 21st century has been the most fashion influences generation ever known. The face of fashion is new every day, and so is the perfect female body. Today ideal body is not only viewed concerning height, size, and shape but also a new concept of 'athletic' body has been introduced in the beauty contest - for instance, the Western culture associated with privileges such as good health, social class status, achievements, and sexiness. Consequently, people are using different strategies that are circulating in the world that depicts what the perfect body should entail and how to attain it hoping that body acceptance by the female gender has been on the discussion for ages. Unlike in the past, a size plus body is viewed unattractive, unhealthy both physically and emotionally, with cases of low self -esteem.
There is a misconception body today's body image and the perfect body image for women. Today women want to be like what they see in the media because that is what, probably people perceive as an ideal shape, weight or weight. The modern technology that has options for body shapers enabler such as plastic surgery and enhancement pills are dangerous ideas feed in the minds of a 21st generation. Throughout the evaluation of the perfect body from the 19th Century, there has been not any genetic modification to acquire the ideal body type. What changes is the face of fashion with the adjustment of lifestyle? For instance, during the world war, designers wanted to design fabrics that depicted aggressiveness. Therefore, broad shoulders were seen as a fashion of that time. After world war, the typical fashion was that which portrayed poverty that resulted from the impact of the war.
In both cases, women would pose with their shoulders broad to be fashionable. The next fashion was that which used less fabric, and therefore, women would look slimmer in their structures revealing their curves. The materials and style that media intends to sell to women use the ideal target individuals to attract the primary target. For example, in the event where a corset industry wishes to advertise their products, they would use a size plus individual to portray the initial image followed by an ideal perfect image as an outcome of the use of the product. Such an advert sells the idea of a norm body image. Media portray what fits their event which influences people's perception of what they see and hear being forced to conform to the present ideal model.
According to Rees 160 believes that the society has begun to accept that which was perceived as not allowed. For several decades, somebody images such as tattooing were viewed as a taboo and those that had them were associated with social outsiders like the sailors and criminals. Tattooing was more expected from mem that women. Women that wore tattoos were perceived as disrepute women. Just like any other reconstruction process to enhance beauty and identity, tattooing among women have become more acceptable today in society due to media influence. Divarication of cultures has led to penetration of art that was less spread in some culture. The same case has been seen with the perception of a perfect body and the choices women have to get there.
Media and the Perfect Female Body Image
The face of the press is painted by beautiful images used in advertisements such as in televisions, movies, internet, and magazine among others. Images of slender and attractive models portray the picture of the perceived beauty (Grabe Shelly Monique Ward and Hyde 460). Although advertisement is used to persuade us to use certain products, media uses slender females to portray the image the product deems ideal for a woman. The exposure to such 'false' mages influences body image on what an ideal body size, shape and weight should be. Such exposure places pressure on women to obtain the same body size and weight to look as attractive as those models on the screen (Grabe et al., 460). Media influence can lead to a negative impact such as being dissatisfied with one's body, negative body image which may further lead to women developing a strong force to live up to the standards.
For decades, female models have been used as sex appeals especially in media advertisements. According to Hull et al., (39), sports media has gained a lot of popularity by displaying models with perfect bodies (as perceived by many people), influencing the way people perceive events. Research has found that the use of reasonable degree amount of sex appeal gave positive results. The concept has also become popular in the field of sports especially athletics. Female athletics and cheerleaders on the sidelines are used to advertise a particular brand of uniforms and sports jerseys (Brooks 15). Some sports individuals are more concerned with their body looks in the media than their sports performance with fame attributed to their looks rather than their play (Hull et al., 42). Consequently, women will tend to set standard goals of having bodies like those of female athletes as deemed perfect by the media.
Screen actresses have created incredible images to an average viewer. Legendary companies like Hollywood portrays body images of actresses that are too perfect in shapes sizes and height. These technology enhanced body has now translated to how women view their bodies. The ideal body norm that media portrays creates pressures on women in the 21st generation to continue achieving the perfect body (Wykes Maggie and Gunter 197). This could be dangerous for an average woman that compares herself to the created beauty with assuming that those on the screens looks the way they are portrayed. The underlying argument on how perfect body image should look like is a question that will continue to be researched as long as fashion and style keep evolving.
There is nothing wrong with looking good as one perceives it. Women are more comfortable with the bodies they are in when other people talk well about them. However, there is a way in which the perceived beauty or perfect body affects an individual psychologically, physically and socially. Most women will starve themselves to shed the unwanted weight for a better shape and weight to look like models in the media. The poor feeding habits lead to a more complicated condition called anorexia that is medically dangerous to health (Rees 167). Psychologically, women have low self-esteem related status due to unacceptance of their body forms. Like mentioned before, most if not all women are keen on what people say about their bodies hence becoming cautious of their appearance. Low self -esteem can lead to social exclusion of victims due to the fear that they do not conform to the norm.
Despite the attempt by the social media to campaign on the diversity of different body forms, the whole campaign has been downplayed by the new ideal body image by the current generation. With more complicated fashion and style enhanced by modern technology, the body of a woman has continued to be modified - the need for attaining the ideal body form led to increased strategies to change almost all body parts. These strategies are such like plastic surgeries, enhancement pills, and ointments and body shaper undergarments. Most of these strategies safe. Some women end up losing it all by getting unexpected results that are irreversible.
In contemporary society, change is not avoidable because globalization and technological developments are advancing every single day. Media has become part of people's lives where most of the world's population speed their time on the internet. Influence from media content has changed the perception of people towards life. More vividly is how fashion has shaped the concept of ideal shape, size, and weight of a woman body in the twentieth century. As seen before, the concept of a perfect female body has significantly changed over the decades. Women have particularly become the face of the marketing industry which means that their beauty (or rather what people perceive as beauty) has become the focal point of selling products. However, women body image should be respected and given the same place as that of their male counterparts. The media should also encourage people to take care of their bodies through healthy means like a healthy diet and participating in physical activities. Besides should fully embrace the diversity of body forms to build the self-esteem of women who cannot change their bodies to what they think it is beautiful. Finally, there is no static perfect body image in contemporary society. Trends will change and so fashion and style.
Brooks, Christine M. "Using sex appeal as a sports promotion strategy." Women in sport and physical activity journal 10.1 (2001): 1-16.Cash, Thomas F., and Timothy A. Brown. "Body image in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: A review of the literature." Behaviour modification 11.4 (1987): 487-521.
Grabe, Shelly, L. Monique Ward, and Janet Shibley Hyde. "The...
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