Debate Magazine

The Negative Portrayal of Beauty in the Media

Posted on the 19 May 2011 by Juliez

Prince Charming: What has he done for you lately?

Prince Charming: What has he done for you lately?

From a young age, I recognized a pattern in the movies I frequently watched. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White – their major goal is to find Prince Charming. Being young and impressionable, I too started dreaming of my prince charming I would one day come to meet.

As I got older, around my pre-teen years, I developed a collection of magazines due to my interest in style and fashion. I’d flip through so many each day, and without even noticing how and why, I began to feel less and less confident in myself. And more and more self-conscious about the way I looked. Pretty soon I felt as though no guy would ever want me because of the way I looked. I began to think I’d never find my Prince Charming. I was scared that no one would ever want to sweep me off my feet and rescue me. That was the way it was supposed to be, right? Wasn’t finding a Prince Charming supposed to be one of my priorities? If only I looked more like these girls here in the magazines, I would think to myself, then surely guys would want me, and I’d feel better about myself because of that. Thinking back on it now, it almost sickens me. The fact that I, along with so many other young girls , have been deceived by the media’s portrayal of a woman’s priorities which always seem to turn back to the way in which she should look.

“50 Best and Worst Beach Bodies” Headlines the cover of an issue of Star magazine. You know, one of those tabloid magazines you can’t avoid seeing, even though you’re only waiting in a check-out line at the grocery store. On this cover it has images of various women in their bathing suits, with captions underneath such as “Lumpy and Frumpy” and “Double Wide”. If magazines continue to promote degrading and judging women based on their appearance as opposed to their accomplishments, it is not unlikely to see an even higher rise in teenage eating disorders, suicides, and negative body images. Society has instilled this idea in our minds that we must be thin and beautiful, meet the media’s standards of what “beauty” really is, in order to be accepted by all.

Once the negativity, insecurity, and overall dissatisfaction with oneself sets in, many girls give into the message the media is shoving down their throats. They strive for outward “perfection” no matter what the risk. They develop eating disorders which in turn come with mental illness, because these girls have been tainted and tricked into truly believing they are not good enough. In an issue of Us Weekly magazine, its cover features two stars of the popular teen drama 90210. It headlines “Too Thin for T.V” then it continues to state “ordered to gain weight”, “costars plan intervention”, and quotes a source saying “I’ve never seen them eat.” The most disappointing part of this cover is the angle the magazine takes. The headline could just have well read “Women pushed to be too thin by unrealistic beauty standards endorsed by the very entertainment industry they work in and cannot escape.” The media makes it a point to remind you on a daily basis that you’re “too fat” until they start noticing you’re “too thin”. Either way you’ll never be good enough, and the internalized self-hatred just grows and grows.

Now a days, there are so many different things that can be “wrong” with us; cellulite, dry skin, stretch marks, belly fat, wrinkles. It gets you wondering and you think to yourself, there must be something wrong with me. But what we really should be thinking is, where are the positive strong female role models? Where are the spokeswomen who promote loving yourself and the body you were given, accepting who you are and being proud of it? Where are the women who teach us to be strong intelligent individuals? Or that whether we have a boyfriend or whether we have the perfect body or skin, has nothing to do with being a successful beautiful woman. Those women are out there. But regrettably they do not receive half of the attention that the mainstream media does, in turn, they do not have as much of an influence on young girls. It’s so important for more women to stand up and address this issue. To let us girls know that the media’s portrayal of beauty is completely unrealistic and impossible to achieve, with most of the women in magazines being so extremely airbrushed and re-touched.

Looking back and seeing the ideas society has instilled in me from a young age, I understand how everything pieces together, but still don’t understand why it’s going on. Feminists have marched and protested so girls wouldn’t have to feel like they need to stop eating in order to be beautiful. So women could be seen as individuals as opposed to sex objects. The media is never going to stop putting out the message it sends. As women, we need to remind ourselves and each other that everyone is beautiful. Magazines, television, billboards, posters, they can’t change that. Forget prince charming and learn to love yourself.

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