For a very long time, I was blind to the fact that the media and society I live in have any part to play in the way I see myself. I put my own personal insecurities down to what I saw in the mirror – but now I realise that I was looking at myself through the eyes of the media.
Brought up in a world where women are sexualised on TV, where we mock those that have flaws and where every magazine I read is littered with suggestions on ‘how to get the perfect skin’ or ‘how to get the perfect beach body in 2 weeks’, it was embedded in me to think and feel a certain way about how I look, which is something I’m sure many of you can relate to.
It’s not just the UK that we’re speaking about here. Every culture’s society and media creates pressures and standards that are massively influential on its citizens. For example, in some parts of China it is seen as beautiful to have extremely small feet (to the extent that they will implement foot binding). In Somali, some people see it as beautiful to be overweight. Let me ask you this, if you were born in China would you long to have small feet?
It may seem like a stupid question, but to some Chinese citizens this is just as desirable to them as having a suntan is to us. You see, where we live and what our media chooses to portray sets the standards for what we perceive to be beautiful, but sadly some of these ideals are unrealistic.
I personally find the media of both the UK and America to be pretty similar, probably due to the fact that we watch more American TV than we do our own. The UK and American media sets an image of an abstract perception of beauty on society through the use of all different channels, be it directly or indirectly through advertising, reality TV shows and music channels. The image is of a woman with the perfect figure – large breasts, slim waist and a perk peachy bum. She has no excess fat, no cellulite, bronze skin all year around and superskinny model legs.
(The image above is of a real un-edited model who has had numerous plastic surgery procedures to become ‘the real Barbie’. Read more here: NY Daily News: Human Barbie Stives To Become Breatharian Who Lives Off Light & Air)
With our digital world now enabling us to stay connected to the media 24/7, 7 days a week, the negative influences are somewhat of a concern to me. How on earth can us women compete with these unrealistic standards for any length of time without becoming ill? And most importantly, how can we stop our young girls from becoming insecure, self-obsessed and undervalued?
I’m a victim myself. Without the help of my very-grounded boyfriend, I would never have viewed this issue as a problem – I would have simply just competed in the ‘perfection’ game as I now like to call it. By this I mean, to look good as all these unrealistic ideals, I would have had plastic surgery. I would have had more than just fake nails, hair extensions and spray tans.
When I was at college, I would spend all day online absorbed in all of the different outlets I was greeted with that featured picture-perfect, airbrushed women. Each week I would think of ways I could change myself for the better. After all, the celebs are doing it with great results.
When I first met Sam, he had pictures on the wall of lots of naked women. It wasn’t until I got serious with him that I confronted him about how it made me feel. All of the women had been airbrushed to perfection, had breast implants and their lips botoxed. At first, he couldn’t understand what the problem was. He liked me and didn’t see what I had to worry about – after all, they were only pictures.
He took them down, because he’s actually a really understanding bloke (I know, I’m a lucky girl). Over the years I’ve told Sam about the different procedures I want to have when I can afford them and although he would always say I don’t need them, I never realised how strongly he felt about it until one day he snapped.
“If you have plastic surgery, I’ll leave you. If your not happy with your body, you’re never going to be happy with your body, no matter what you do with it. Happiness comes within. I don’t want to be with a f***king piece of plastic.”
Happy to be reassured I was of course, but I also needed to argue my side.
“You say that, but you’re the one who chose to put pictures on your wall of women with fake tits and botox, so that’s clearly what you find most attractive! You didn’t find pictures of natural women.”
His answer was actually quite funny, when you consider what men are really like.
“They were just the pictures in the magazine that I bought the day I moved in. Like I would ever go to any effort to find pictures of women I don’t even know.”
Not all men are like Sam. Some of them really are brainwashed into thinking that beauty is what the media portrays, but we know it’s not because that isn’t a realistic representation of real women.
To change these pressures and standards put on women today to be perfect in every way, we need the media to put greater emphasis on the importance of having good morals, an intellectual mind and a good personality. But when will that happen?
We can’t go on with people like Miley Cyrus as our role model for young girls today. How can we continue to see people like Joey Essex and Kim Kardashian as an inspiration? Our values are all mixed up and it will take a big movement in the media to shift it, but this will only happen when there’s a demand for change.
Do you feel that there’s a demand for change? Let me know what you think on this topic using the comments section below. I really look forward to hearing what you all have to say. If you like this post, share it with your friends!