Consider Disciplining The Way In Which Women Essay Example
Gender performance refers to the ways in which men and women are expected to carry themselves in society. It reflects the stereotypical ways of thinking and behaving which we believe we must adhere to.
This is to say, a man should be interested in football, cars, his career and a frosty pint of beer, whereas a woman should be interested in make-up, housework, looking after the family and a nice glass of wine and never the two paths shall cross.The media along with evolution has changed these outdated perceptions and we often see men and women (especially famous men and women) advertising products that this once stereotypical opinion would have condoned. Pierce Brosnan has appeared in moisturizer adverts while the Toyota RAV4 has seen women 'uncharacteristically partaking' in scenes of a violent nature in...
order to get the car before her spouse does."If there ever was a time when we knew for sure what it meant to be a woman or a man that time has long since passed and those certainties replaced by both ambiguity and anxiety."But these examples are nothing compared to the aesthetic world which we have become obsessed with. Magazines, celebrities and television seem to be dictating how we should look - what should we wear, how we should have our hair, what weight should we be aiming for - which is nothing new, but surprisingly more effective.
The intention of this essay is to examine the media's preoccupation with weight gain (Obesity) and loss (Size 0) - while being two very different contemporary problems both dealing with body mass - have shocked and changed people (specifically women) the world over. How the
media has taken both the brunt of the criticism for starting such a stir and has been able to turn around and try to tackle the problems while it is still causing them."I'm not starving myself...
I'm perfecting my emptiness."- Anon, Anorexic ForumSize zero is a term coined by the media specifically relating to models with a low body mass. It is no longer a phenomenon bound to fashion media. Its presence and influence can be seen throughout western civilization, as a body ideal which can seriously damage the health of the individual choosing to pursue it.
Although the trend is not gender specific, non-surprisingly, women and girls make up 90% of the population who suffer from anorexia, bulimia and other common eating disorders.1 It should not be thought that it is only adults who engage in aspiring to the 'thin ideal'. In a study carried out in Australia by Tebbel (2000), it was found that 60% of girls had dieted moderately, while 8% had dieted severely. On the same basis as women believing they are imperfect, the girls did this primarily to increase chances of dating.Everyone wants to (whether they admit it or not) fall under the category of being 'a beautiful person'.
We all compare ourselves, at one time or another to the people we see around us. Comparing our self worth can be done as easily as looking at someone else's physical appearance and comparing it to our own.The media - or more specifically advertisers - have taken advantage of the human need to compare self worth and exploited it. Low self esteem is subjugated by capitalism. The 'beautiful people' will use our
low self esteem about certain areas to target us into buying some makeup, a new diet, gym membership, slimming pills, an iPod, a car, any product under the sun.And naturally, we as the public believe them.
They are our 'idols', our 'friends', the people who pick us up when we are feeling down. They wouldn't lie to us about something like skin cream just to make a quick buck would they?A staggering 31% of the American population is obese2. As a way of fighting obesity, advertisers have released many infomercials showing (supposedly) real individuals have overcome weight problems thanks to using certain products or schemes.The media's primary preoccupation with thinness is that it creates something to be sold. It exploits people's perceptions of themselves, in the hunger for generating profit.
Ultimately, whenever there is capital involved, human greed will be waiting by.Most men, especially young adults feel the need to look good, mostly in order to gain the attention of the opposite sex (or same sex, depending on their orientation). This often involves either being slim or working out and having a strong physique with 'ripped abs' or a 'trim 6-pack'. This ideal of being slim is twofold.
Women and girls are pushed into the idea that if they are not thin, no man will be attracted to them. This view was pushed too far when girls see famous actresses and catwalk models showing off their emaciated structures. This became an ideal for many women and girls who believed that if they shrunk their body weight to the critically acclaimed size 0 (US size, UK size 4, and European size 30) then they would be
seen as more beautiful and could become famous with ease.Most of us after months, even years of trying however, accept that we cannot conform to these ideal renditions of femininity and masculinity since we are not attractive, well-formed, affluent or successful enough. Some of cannot even fit into the categories that the celebrities come from because of our ethnicity, sexuality or age.
However we all still try to appropriate the lifestyles of our icons if only by wearing t-shirts with the rolling stones logo or a picture of a playboy bunny on it to show we are 'cool'.Jutel (2001) describes our obsession with our weight is due to a belief that our physical imperfections reflect our inner inadequacies.Kate Moss is undoubtedly one of - if not the most - notable celebrities who have succumbed to the popular media's ideals of being skinny. So much so that she released a clothing line which did not exceed a UK size 6. Many mothers have criticized Moss, claiming that their daughters shouldn't be allowed to idolize such a character, others blame companies such as Top Shop for endorsing celebrities who are "too thin" and refuse to shop there again.
These companies however do not need to pay attention to such insignificant remarks, at the end of the day they set out to make a profit and provide a service which reaches the demands of the 'majority' of the public. Albeit Top Shop is a prime example of the fashion industry's take on size zero. In the production stages, many fashion lines are modeled on mannequins and thin girls. The weight desirable to illustrate what the designer wanted to
create is therefore enhanced when it is worn by a woman with a similar frame.
In today's society however, the truth is that many men find women with a size zero frame as 'too skinny' and often 'sickly' to look like. The 'World Health Organization' classifies of body mass index of 18.5 as being the lowest 'normal' score. After the death of Luisel Ramos at a fashion show, New York, Madrid and Milan (three of the biggest fashion capitals) banned girls with a BMI lower than 18.5 from parading the latest trends on the runway3.On looking back in history, it is evident that weight is an attribute which fluctuates between what size is most desirable at any one point.
In centuries past voluptuous women boasting a waistline of 16 inches plus were seen as being the more dominant, self-asserted, attractive size. Now however, the parallels have shifted and most men would rather be accompanied by the skinny (often unhealthy looking) women who grab the media attention of today."Children who use a lot of media have a lower activity level which is linked to a higher rate of obesity"- Vandewater, 2004In the case of obesity, media's detrimental effects on children are twofold. Both influencing children in what sort of food they should be eating (McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut) and by providing a source of entertainment which further separates them from the world of exercise (videogame culture, YouTube, etc)."Children, ages 8 to 18, spend more time (44.5 hours per week) in front of computer, television, and game screens than any other activity in their lives except sleeping".
4- Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005The idea of a perfectly healthy woman
wanting to become a size zero supposes that she is not happy with the weight she carries; however, slimming down to such a body mass can encourage illnesses such as bulimia and anorexia to take precedence in the body of the woman.The media plays an integral role in controlling how consumers think. Ray Kroc (the founder of McDonalds) once said: "Look after the consumer and the business will look after itself", this could have perhaps been rephrased as 'look after the advertisers and the consumers will look after you'.Advertising is significantly involved in the perpetuation of particular and idealized renditions of femininity and, increasingly masculinity, working to make all but a very few of us see ourselves as constant works in progress, endlessly open to cosmetic and other kinds of bodily improvement.
With stars such as Uma Thurman endorsing products by Lancï¿½me and George Clooney appearing to use "Nivea for Men: Moisturizer", it is no wonder people flock to Boots just to grab a bottle. We could just as easily purchase an un-branded bottle of shampoo as we could buy a product by Lynx or Herbal Essences, but as they are endorsed by millionaires we don't mind spending the extra penny here or additional pound there. Because, we are inevitably trying to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous (even if it is just for the amount of time we spend in the bathroom each morning).Being "thin" is acceptable as is being "fat"; however any extremes of the two become something of a debate once the media grabs a hold of them.The last decade has been bombarded by shocking statistics and promises to reduce the
number of people who are deemed as being obese.
A report in 2004 suggested that the debate of obesity in the media rose by almost 300% in the five years preceding its release. Countries like France use medicine to combat the problem, while the USA stated that education was too blame and the UK said it was the media who were culpable (calling for regulations to be made in areas such as: advertising; promotions; vending machines; and food labelling).The television channel "Living UK" recently aired a documentary detailing the lives of famous people who they deemed as being 'extremely thin'. The show acknowledged the unbelievably thin structures of many stars ranging from Mary Kate Olsen to Nicole Richie.
The media is not only responsible for pushing girls to becoming anorexic but with thanks to the internet, they are now able to seek support from fellow unhealthy girls and maintain their withered figures."People donï¿½t see me. No one sees me. Itï¿½s like being fat.
No one takes you seriously. You just donï¿½t exist-youï¿½re so big, youï¿½re not even there."- Anon, Anorexic ForumThe whole concept of "thinspiration" becomes overwhelming when you log on to these pro anorexia websites and read the views and ideas of some of the members. Some of the comments are gut-wrenching.Many of the websites say that they are providing a means for battling these 'illnesses', but upon entering the sites it is evident that many of the web pages are "pro-ana" (in favour of anorexia). These websites are aimed at people with anorexia who are there through choice.
On looking at these websites it is unclear as to whether the girls commenting on the
site have chosen to put themselves in such a state as a result of what they have seen in the media. It seems more likely that issues such as school and more to the point bullying are the reasons for girls becoming abnormally thin. The problem now appears to be a way of battling depression. Comments from girls on one particular website took the form of sentences such as "...
all I want to do is binge, purge and cry...", "..
.only 200 calories today, I'm feeling great about myself..." and ".
..I've only had 45 [calories] today." The recommended daily intake for women is 2000 calories per day.
Many girls however suffering from bulimia and anorexia through no choice of their own use pro-anorexia websites and groups on social networking sites (such as Facebook, Bebo etc) to gain confidence and support, they use such websites in order to escape the harsh and cold judgements they face in the real world.'Dove' has been one of the pioneering corporations who have steered clear of giving women unattainable ideals. Their 'Campaign for Real Beauty' has "made the commitment not to distort any [of their] images to create an unrealistic or unattainable view of beauty".5"Previous research has shown that exposure to ultra-thin models in fashion magazines leads to excessive dieting and body dissatisfaction among adolescent girls.
" The problems however only appear to have occurred when a reader has already entered a state of self dissatisfaction or depression.6One way which suggests that media does not have full control over people to follow the trends set forward in teenage magazines or cast over the billboards in shopping centers, is the influence that family and
friends have on each other. This stands true for both people who are "ultra slim" and likewise those who are "obese". If someone wants to lose weight, along with will power, they often need the support of their peers. While if someone believes they need to lose weight in order to gain popularity or make themselves feel better, it is often their pals who provide them with positive feelings by commenting on how great they look as they are, etc.
Parents play a major role in children's lives. If they reinforce the attitude of not judging other people by their weight, skin color, clothing style etc, and can respect other for who they are, they can empower their kids to have a better opinion of themselves and to take what they hear via the media 'with a pinch of salt'.The media does nothing more than fuel our desire to look like other humans who have 'better' attributes than us. Media cannot be blamed for causing eating disorders enabling us to 'achieve a size zero' nor can they be put to blame when we decide that going under the knife in a 'nip-tuck' procedure was not right for us.
We often fall into the trap of aiming to attain, unattainable assets, whether this is a career or a waist size. Unfortunately the media is the helping hand, the devil on our shoulders giving us that extra push, inspiring us to take the chance. I mean, we only live once, it'll tell us. Whatever happens from there on in is our own fault, because when we look back with retrospect, we had the choice, and we made the
choice, not the voice on the screen, the voice in our minds.
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