Written By: Jillian Branham
Women are constantly fighting every day to be seen as equals to men. This problem has been going on for centuries. What has also been going on for centuries is the negative impact that society has on a woman’s body image. Society teaches young women that in order to be deemed “pretty” or “acceptable” you have to be skinny and popular. That could not be any more untrue.
Social media, television shows, movies, and many more things within society contributes to the negative effect it has on a woman’s body image. Everywhere there is always a billboard or a magazine with a model who is skinny. In most cases, weighing a certain amount and looking a certain way is a requirement to even be considered for the job of a model. In fact, many magazine agencies and photographers will still enhance or alter photos of women to make them look “right.”
Technology has become a huge part of everyone’s lives within the world. Unfortunately, this causes more and more girls to be affected by seeing the “ideal” body image all over the media. A woman any age can be affected by the things they see. By reading articles and seeing the pictures of what society says you should look like, can cause a person’s self-esteem to drop dramatically and create a negative perception of one’s body image. This can also cause eating disorders, depression, and even death. When a young girl is constantly told what she needs to look like and is picked on for it, she will start to believe something is wrong with her.
As well as eating disorders and depression, society’s negative impact on a girl’s body image can cause an unhealthy obsession to occur. A young woman may become obsessed with the idea of becoming thin and may do anything to look like the models in the magazines, even if it does cause harm to her body. The obsession may also prevent the idea that she is perfect the way she is. Her view on things may become clouded and she will lose sight of what is really important, her health.
Another major negative impact on a girl’s body image is the fact of what you are “supposed” to wear. This problem can also be seen within many school dress codes. Girls are rarely ever allowed to wear shorts, leggings, or sweats because it might “distract” the man. Girls cannot show their shoulders because, once again, it might distract the man. By punishing a girl for wearing leggings, it not only interrupts her education, but it also teaches the girls to think they are dressing provocatively when they are just trying to be comfortable.
In a more serious note, it is often stated that when women show skin or wear things like tight fitting clothes it provokes men to rape and sexually harass them. This can also lead to victim blaming. A woman that shows skin or wears tight clothes is not a woman asking to be raped.
Along with being skinny, society also teaches women that in order to look the right way you need to have bigger assets on your body. What that means is if a woman walks out of her house with a flat backside or small breasts it is “not normal” or “disgusting”. Social media and men’s comments are not the only things that influence this idea however. Music plays a major role in this as well. Many lyrics of the 21st century can lead to the belief that if you do not have a large backside or breasts then that is not normal. This can then lead to women harming their bodies with different surgeries, including plastic surgery. That idea then causes the other idea to be put into place that society wants you to look more like Barbie, a plastic doll, than a real human being.
The world today teaches young girls and women that they need to change themselves in order to be pretty and acceptable. And although society has many varying negative effects on the people living in it, the negative effect that society has on young girls and women’s bodies tends to be neglected and under looked.
Fortunately, things are changing for the better. Famous brand companies like Dove are refusing to agree to the horrifying impact that society has created and are now creating their own ideas. Their Campaign for Real Beauty was launched in 2004 and is still slowly but surely getting more positive attention.
It is now that women and men in society need to realize that they do not have to be a certain size or look a certain way to be beautiful or acceptable. A person is not defined by their weight or physical features. Every woman and man are wonderfully and beautifully made for who and what they choose to be.