Society Magazine

Extreme Weight-loss Just At Your Finger Tips: A Discussion On How Media Influences Women’s Body Image

Posted on the 18 January 2013 by Rhonda Nemri

By: Rhonda Nemri

As we know, our image has been one of the many things about ourselves that we constantly obsess about. Some of us are very good at accepting who we are regardless from the  pressure of society,  and some of us are just terrified of the external comments from others given to us about our bodies. I constantly get told many different things about my body, and sometimes it just irritates me because it makes people believe their opinions of how I look affects me (In some cases it has). If I have gained weight, I am told right away, if I have lost weight, I am told to gain weight. It is a never ending dialogue that we tend to have with people. The entertainment industry plays a huge role in how we look at ourselves, and how we create our identity. This topic has been on my mind for so long, and I believe it is time for me to share the ongoing contemplation I have had on whether to write about this topic or not.

So here I am, discussing the many things that ruin a woman’s self-esteem and self-concept. There are many different starlets out there who pose in high-class magazines, or magazines such as Seventeen, Cosmopolitan,  Cosmo Girl, Teen Vogue, etc. The cover, being the utmost attention grabber allows women to become very intrigued by specific celebrities, that are absolutely flawless. Their skin is perfect, their waist is tiny,  butt is nicely shaped,  nose is straight, the bags under their eyes are completely gone, and their lips are plump. These characteristics are just the many things about these celebrities that are enhanced or reduced. I used to be an avid reader of the different types of magazines, wondering how to loose 10 pounds in 2 weeks, how to find a perfect man, what men really want in women, and how to have the perfect hair. Even though I hardly went along with what these magazines were telling me, I was still intrigued enough to constantly grab them and read them. But as I got older, those magazines became another published item on the shelf. I must admit, there are certain magazines, I would be willing to take a look at. But I don’t think the headline, “How to Be the Perfect Girlfriend”, is going to grab my attention anytime soon.

While looking at these magazines on the shelf or online, I have always noticed the perfect appearances of these starlets. Knowing the idea behind photography and editing, I am quick to notice the extreme usage of Photoshop, because of the extreme weight loss, and flawless skin tones- of these women. When thinking of marketing, these celebrities are not just full of talent (or maybe talent-less), they are a product, and we are the consumer. If Britney Spears wasn’t thin, or  didn’t have perfect skin, then how was she expected to sell her album? You see, we are quick to judge peoples appearances, so we then become highly-obsessed with always trying to look like specific celebrities. I lost count of  how many girls I have talked to who constantly wanted to look like Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie, or Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima. Yes these women very much have exotic features, but this is not always the case or real. Because of Photoshop, I don’t believe these women would go without being judged if they weren’t edited. It is expected of them to portray perfect, and with all these photo editing tools out there, perfect will be achieved to put a few dollars in some peoples pockets.

This brings me to my next point, which is how it is easy to obtain a perfect image with using smartphone applications. With thousands and thousands of different application that people can download, women and men, have an easy reach to photo editing right from their phone. It has become easy to be labeled as a photographer if you own an iPhone or Android.  I will admit the iPhone takes amazing pictures, and it does come in handy. However, as I look at the many different social networking sites, it is apparent that filters are now the new easy-to-use tool, to alter and change the photograph. This to me is no problem when changing the brightness and contrast, or making the picture look cool, or interesting (I do it too). What really struck my interest is that there are apps out there that allow people to change and alter their bodies. You now don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on Photoshop, because all you have to do is purchase or get the free version of editing photos right from your smartphone. I believe people have the right to purchase or download these apps, but what really gets me thinking is that, these apps that are readily available, are allowing young girls, and women to believe they have to alter their body image to get complimented, or liked by other people. Of course men have body issues as well, but society is a lot more prone to judge or criticize  women’s appearances.  It is this feeling of acceptance that happens when people give you compliments about how skinny you look, or how your butt looks great. So I took it upon myself to download a specific app called “PhotoWonder”.

PhotoWonder Before and After

PhotoWonder Before and After

PhotoWonder allows you to make yourself thin, whether it be body parts, or thinning your face. It also gives you the chance to add filters, to enhance the photo quality, add fake lashes, and make your lips bigger, or smaller. Since I was noticing a lot of body alteration all over the web, I wanted to see what it would be like to change my body structure from average to skinny. The only things I changed was my body structure and changed the contrast with some filters. I have nothing against skinny women, it is just how society criticizes women if they aren’t. Once I altered my body, I was in shock how different I looked. I thought to myself, this is exactly how women in magazines are altered, and this is what prompted me to discuss this.

The entertainment industry, has pushed women to feel self-conscious of their body, and trying to obtain the perfect body by looking like Kim Kardashian, or looking similar to a Victoria’s Secret models. Women have lost self-esteem by trying to reach a similar appearance as the starlet on the front cover of Vogue magazine. I know that I myself have some image issues here and there, but there are days where I just don’t care what people think. I think we should promote a healthy life-style rather than promote trying to have a perfect body.   We all play a huge role in how our close friends and family see themselves. We criticize about appearance more than give constructive criticism on real issues that need attention. Photo editing apps will constantly be downloaded, and women and men will constantly use filters, and alter their body.

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However, what we can stop is making women feel that they have to be a certain way to be accepted. We are constantly trying to compete with each other, and trying to look better than one another. We need to help each other, and empower each other with words that allow women to see that they do not have to look, and be a certain way. We want to teach young girls that they don’t have to constantly look like a celebrity, or feel like one. We have to find our own identities, and to be able to have our own ways of image. It is a shame that society tells  little girls how to look older, and women how to look younger.  I don’t know how long this will occur for, but if we don’t do anything about it, then we are doomed.

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