American women of today can never be too thin or too pretty. In most cases thin compares beauty, so the present ideal is a thin, fit, radiantly healthy, young woman. In magazines stuffed with models and advertisements, billboards on the highway, and actresses on TV, the message of what women should look like is everywhere. The decided presence of these images in effect shapes the image of women today.
It?s very unfortunate that the media influences American society to the point that it defines the “ideal woman,” one reason media is so influential is “advertising is a 130 billion dollar a year industry. The average American watches 30 hours of TV a week and spends 110 hours a year reading magazines. That adds up to exposure to 1500 ads daily” . Advertising is a powerful force in our culture due to the simple fact of exposure. Economics is also a significant factor in the development of the ideal image. There is a wealth of businesses that depend upon the American desire for thinness to survive. Exercise and diet companies are an example. In order to create a market for their product, they attempt to make women feel imperfect about their own bodies through advertisement.
Companies that provide to the current “large” population sell beauty, cleverly. Either way, it is their diet, exercise, or control product that will get women on the way to the thinner, and better, more popular, sexy ideal. Advertisers manipulate women into thinking their value is dependent on their physical appearance. They appeal to that basic human desire to be wanted, accepted, and sexually attractive.
A reason this “idea” has manipulated the American society in particular, is that it appeals to some basic American values. This country prizes things like individuality, self-help, hard work, success, and self-control. Women are given the message that if they just work hard enough at dieting and exercise, they can be thin, beautiful and happy. Women, especially, are told that their efforts in perfecting their bodies will be rewarded by success in both their professional and personal lives. If they fail at achieving the ideal, they are told to try harder. A fat person is seen as lazy or greedy or without self-control.
The manipulation of understanding what is “ideal” leads to concern in relation to the teenagers of this country. The television set has become one of the most influential technologies of all time, replacing real role models and teachers. The media teaches them what is attractive, what’s feminine, what’s cool, what’s sexy, what’s romantic. Melrose Place is not just a soap opera; it’s an instruction in how one should be. TV has more outcomes on a child than his/her parents. Parents may provide prohibition, but teenagers no longer learn primarily through punishment, but through pictures and images.
Absurdly the public is not aware of this manipulation to any effect. They know that to be as thin as the women on TV is close to impossible, but yet they strive for it anyway. The public KNOWS that body types go in and out of fashion.
The exclusion of so many women from representation is a denial of the wide range of bodies and appearances. Instead of curiosity at the assortment of body shapes, women continually compare themselves to each other. For most women, staying thin and youthful is a competition. The cruel thing is that the social requirement that we achieve the “ideal weight” is based on the presumption that we can completely control our body size, which is not true.
In conclusion, what is the result of this endeavor for perfection? ” 50% of American women are dieting and 75% of “normal” weight women think they are too fat ? Finally, the question remains?is this healthy? Is the current image for the “ideal woman” healthy for the women of America? Is it “ideal?”