Societies Obsession with Perfection
In today’s society, social media is the biggest influence on teenagers across the globe. Within media comes the strived for but impossible standard of being “perfect”.
Every time you turn on the television or slide open your cell phone you are exposing yourself to the countless reality tv shows, magazines, and websites that display an unattainable image of the perfect person. Being flawless is an impractical standard to hold oneself to, yet millions of men and women attempt to obtain it. Men, women and children of all ages share the same helpless feeling when viewing these forms of media; they are not good enough. They think they aren’t thin enough, smart enough, successful enough or pretty enough. Thinking this way can cause people to obsess over small issues that they may have no control over. Some focus so much on these slight imperfections that they develop eating disorders or get plastic surgery in order to acquire the perfect outside image.
The media’s standards not only affects women but also directly target men by defining the ideal male as youthful, muscular, successful and attractive. The pressure to fit this standard is causing men to develop disorders such as “exercise bulimia”, excessive amounts of daily exercise that men perform in order to burn all of the calories they have consumed that day, or they receive plastic surgery. Celebrities such as Shailene Woodley and Jennifer Lawrence are attempting to show the world that they will not accept these standards and are trying to make a change. Also, companies like Dove are putting an effort out to help women realize what true beauty is by creating the Campaign for Real Women. People in modern society have an obsession with perfection that impacts their daily lives and overall happiness. Times have changed and so have the standards.
In the 1900’s, Marilyn Monroe was thought of as a beautiful role model, but in today’s society she is considered overweight. Even model and actress Elizabeth Hurley admitted, “I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat” in an Allure magazine article. Social media can force teenage girls into adopting unhealthy eating habits that often lead to eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia are a few major types of eating disorders that negatively affect a young girl’s health. These disorders not only do physical damage to an adolescents body, but it is also a serious mental issue.
With these eating disorders the individual has an obsession with being thin and an irrational fear of weight gain. Due to their fears, people with anorexia restrict the amount of food they consume each day. Those with bulimia binge on food and then use different methods, such as vomiting or abusing laxatives, to lose excessive amounts of weight. Every time a teenage girl turns on the television she is at risk of feeling the pressures to fit in with the newest trends. Today, the newest trend is the thigh gap. The impossible goal is to lose so much body weight that there is a gap between the thighs.
A large number of teenagers girls still believe that the bigger the thigh gap, the more beautiful you are. The idea of the thigh gap received widespread news coverage in December of 2012, after the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Because of this, hundreds of blogs and Twitter accounts were created and millions of images of thigh gaps surfaced all over social media sites. Some took the obsession to an extreme and developed eating disorders while trying to obtain a body shape that is unnatural for them. Constant exposure to pictures of thin, attractive models create an unrealistic ideal of beauty for women.
The standards are set too high and as a result people are taking tremendous risks in order to achieve their idea of the perfect body. The media has such a large impact on our society that plastic surgery is becoming more and more common. Our culture obsesses over the idea of having a flawless physical appearance so much that people are willing to undergo surgery in order to achieve it. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the recent increase in the number of chin augmentation surgeries may be due to social media, because it is a feature that many do not notice until they frequently view images of themselves online. Edward Farrior, MD, President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery stated: “Social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and the iPhone app Selfie.im, which are solely image based, force patients to hold a microscope up to their own image and often look at it with a more self-critical eye than ever before.
” The AAFPRS did a study on a select group of it’s 2,700 members to uncover the latest trends in facial plastic surgery. The study showed that one in three surgeons saw in increase in requests due to patients being more self aware of looks in social media. The AAFPRS members noticed a ten percent increase in rhinoplasty as well as a seven percent increase in hair transplants and a six percent increase in eyelid surgery from 2012 to 2013 alone. These shocking numbers reveal the truth about our current society; we are becoming increasingly more preoccupied with our physical appearances. Aside from the regular procedures, there are people who obsess so much over their body and features, that they are willing to undergo countless operations in order to have a barbie doll’s “perfect body”.
It is proven that Barbie’s “perfect” body is impossible to have in real life. If Barbie was a real person she would have a 16 inch waist, which would only allow her enough room for half of her liver and intestines, her wrists would be too thin to be able to lift anything up, her feet would be too small, causing her to crawl on all fours, and her legs would be 50% longer than her arms. Despite these horrific facts, people like Valeria Lukyanova still attempt to be just as perfect as Barbie. Years ago, plastic surgery was practically unheard of but due to modern societies fixation on unattainable beauty and thinness, people are getting surgeries much more frequently and with the expectation of perfect results. With magazines, advertisements, newspapers and social medias accessible to you twenty four hours a day it is hard not to compare yourself to one of the thousands of images staring back at you.
Comparing oneself to a model or actress is very dangerous because it can lead to low self-esteem and eventually an obsession with your body or physical features. Some celebrities realize the effects that these comparisons can have on the public and want to make a change. In a July 24th interview with Flavorwire, Shailene Woodley spoke about how the photoshopped images of celebrities we see are not real and why she has a problem with it: “I saw somebody — what I thought was me — in a magazine once, and I had big red lips that definitely did not belong on my face. I had boobs about three times the size they are in real life. My stomach was completely flat. My skin was also flawless.
But the reality is that I do not have those lips and my skin is not flawless and I do have a little bit of a stomach. It was not a proper representation of who I am. I realized that, growing up and looking at magazines, I was comparing myself to images like that — and most of it isn’t real.” Shailene tries to make a real difference in helping women realize that they should not be negatively affected by altered magazine images and pictures they see in the media. She takes a stand by not wearing makeup to events and by voicing the truth about photoshop within the media. Another rising star like Shailene that is trying to stand up against the impossible beauty standards is Jennifer Lawrence.
Jennifer refuses to lose weight for roles because of the message it will send to the viewers and is speaking out against photoshopping and body image. During the promotions for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,Jennifer announced: “We have the ability to control this image that young girls are going to be seeing. They see enough of this body that they will never be able to obtain and it’s an amazing opportunity to rid ourselves of that in this industry.” Unlike so many young, female actresses Jennifer will not sacrifice her health for her career. She says: “I’m never going to starve myself for a part… I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner.
That’s something I was really conscious of during training, when you’re trying to get your body to look exactly right. I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong- not thin and underfed.” The words and efforts of these actresses are being heard throughout the nation and are beginning to open people’s eyes to the truth. Companies, such as Dove, are also trying to find a solution to this problem that our society is facing. Dove began a Real Beauty Campaign to help restore women’s self-esteem.The idea of the campaign was to celebrate the natural, unique beauty that each individual women has and to inspire them to have confidence and to be more comfortable in their own skin.
The campaign received mixed reviews but overall, was a success. Dove’s campaign is a large step in the right direction towards showing the people of today’s society that it is okay not to be perfect. The issue of societies obsession with perfection will never fully go away but the efforts of actresses Shailene Woodley and Jennifer Lawrence and Dove’s Real Beauty campaign will not go unheard. Societies obsession with having the perfect body and overall physical appearance is a tremendous issue that has many harmful effects. Eating disorders can result from low self-esteem and people can attempt to attain perfect features by undergoing cosmetic surgeries.
Every time we open a laptop, cell phone, magazine, newspaper, television or advertisement we see photoshopped models, thin actors and actresses and perfect looking women. Comparing ourselves to them is almost inevitable. Once we begin to think ‘I wish I had her hair’ or ‘If only I had her legs’ we are giving in to the pressures that the media has placed on us. Woman are held to the impossible standard of being perfect that will hopefully be lowered by the efforts of celebrities and companies campaigns. Modern society has a serious problem with the obsession of being perfect that is leading to the physical and mental damage of people around the nation.