Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

Body Image

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After talking about body image in class the past few weeks, I have to admit that I am somewhat frustrated. I am frustrated because society has placed a label on what is or is not beautiful. The entertainment industry plays such a large role in this. They produce our television shows, print our magazines, develop pornography to display “ideal bodies” and “ideal interaction” between those bodies, create our video games, and lead our radio talk shows. Although, honestly, I am wondering who “they” are- “they” who seem to have so much power over both males and females. They seem to create the ideal standards for beauty but we do not even know them by name. They tell men to build muscle and abs and then seek skinny, flawless women to hang from their arms. They define beauty for women as the skinnier, the better. All women need is a large bust, skinny waist, and hair and make-up done to perfection. After being bombarded by these messages for so long, we start to believe and follow this way of thinking.

As I watched “Dying to be Thin” during class, I found the physiology behind eating disorders very interesting. However, I just kept thinking “why?” I understand there are a million different ways for someone to develop an eating disorder and it is a serious condition that must carefully be approached from different angles. Although, when the young, blonde-haired girl who was admitted into rehab for anorexia shared her story with us, I was shocked beyond belief. She literally was skin and bones, yet she stood there and said she was fat, ugly, useless, and unintelligent. If I jump forward to the article “Designer Vaginas” that was assigned for us to read, I once again was surprised at the information it contained. I did not know labiaplasty existed. I had never thought anyone would go to such extremes to make their labia look more “ideal”. I did not even know there was an “ideal” labia, yet that is one of the focuses of adult entertainment. They make both genders appear beautiful, even in places that are usually covered up and private. Society defines beauty…right down to the labia. Something is definitely wrong with that.

I have never been overweight, but I have never been skinny either. I have always been right in the middle. I once went shopping and could not get anything to fit. I gave up, cried a bit, and was depressed the rest of the day because I believed I was “fat” and “useless”. Sometimes, I am embarrassed to wear swimsuits. Sometimes, I am jealous because I think I will never know what it is like to be super skinny. Other times, I feel like I should have more curves in order to have an ideal womanly body. Yet still other times, I feel good in my own skin. I wish society did not place such an emphasis on beauty. There are so many different body types and, in all honesty, all that should matter is whether or not the body is healthy. Men should not have to worry so much about muscle and women should not have to worry so much about losing weight. Both men and women should realize that, when searching for a partner, the partner does not have to be what society defines as attractive. Technically, the whole concept of beauty is subjective anyway. I wish no one felt the need to conform to what society defines as beautiful. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, but I feel as though people try too hard to look how other people want them to look instead of being happy in their own body. External beauty can be entirely superficial. True beauty is REAL. In my final thought, beauty should be found in a person through their brains, through their past experiences and their goals for the future, through their personality, through their confidence, and through their kindness to those around them. Society needs a paradigm shift when it comes to defining beauty. The entertainment industry cannot fabricate those aforementioned aspects of a person; that kind of beauty is at the person’s core and should be what we, as a society, admire as true beauty.

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