Assignment 1- 151mc – Self- Esteem and the media

It is common place in this digital era for images to be manipulated to show the “ideal”. So much so that we tend to take it for granted. It almost goes by unnoticed as it is such a given factor that images will have been altered in some way prior to being published.

I am interested to see that in recent years there are several organisations/individuals who have actively gone against this trend. To show women that they do not have to try to live up these unattainable portrayals of beauty. To make women believe in their womanhood, their beauty. To show we are all individual, sensual beings, who do not have to be supermodels in order to be sexy, desirable or indeed , beautiful. These campaigns want us to stop objectifying women in this way and to allow us to reclaim our womanhood and bodies away from this fake perfection.

In 1997 the BodyShop ran a campaign fronted by a doll, Ruby. She sparked international debate about body image and self esteem and caused such a stir that ” Mattel sent us a cease-and-desist order, demanding we pull the images of Ruby from American shop windows. Their reason: Ruby was making Barbie look bad, presumably by mocking the plastic twig-like bestseller (Barbie dolls sell at a rate of two per second; it’s hard to see how our Ruby could have done any meaningful damage.) ” Anita Roddick (Body Shop founder)


The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, 1991 argues that with the rise of feminism so has arisen the standards of expected beauty. This very standard that is perpetuated by the media is being used as a tool to oppress women. She argues ” The legal and material hindrances women have broken through, are more strictly and heavily and cruelly images of female beauty have come to weigh upon us …”   and she then goes on to state “how we feel about ourselves physically , we may actually be worse of than our unliberated grandmothers.”

An article on the Canadian Women’s Health Network states that studies have shown that exposure to images of the beauty ideal increases dissatisfaction, depression, anger and lowers self-esteem. Pictures of those images can reinforce these feelings in women. This pressure can lead to girls who are young as 5 years old dieting and worrying about their bodies. Women taking drugs or smoking to suppress appetite.  This negative reinforcement is a contributing factor to 1 in 10 young girls developing an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or disordered eating.  The self esteem and body dysmorphia can also lead to invasive and unnecessary surgical procedures.

Unattainable perfection is something that so many women struggle to achieve throughout their lives but something to bare in mind is that the average Model is taller and weighs 23% less than an average woman who is 5’4″ and weighs 148 lbs.


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