Media Promotes Unrealistic Body Image Expectations

Photo courtesy of Cherry Point, Flickr Creative Commons

In today’s society there seems to be a growing problem with how young adults visually perceive their bodies.

Body image has become an extensive obsession, and by constantly concentrating on how we feel about our physical appearance, we will ultimately intensify the negative level of connectedness to our bodies. It is time to have an increased awareness of the repercussions that result in having an unrealistic body image.

Every day, society is exposed to a world that exists solely through the media. Pictures and videos of male and female models swarm the Internet, which results in an underlying “need” to behold the beauty that is represented. This situation is problematic when the media encourages ideal depictions of what it means to be physically attractive. 

If you are female, you must be conventionally thin and have a fit physique so that men find you appealing, according to the media. If you are male, you must be conventionally strong and have large muscles in order to call yourself a man. Media teaches people that there is only one image of beauty, and that if you do not fit that description, you must change yourself in order to be classified as beautiful.

On a daily basis we are exposed to television, billboards and magazines that display “beautiful people.” It gives society the impression that these images are real and attainable. 

According to the Social Issues Research Centre, studies show that men have a more positive idea of body image than women. Although they still have a superficial image of being built and strong to be categorized as a man, society does not criticize them as intensely as they do women.       

From images seen in the media, women are more pressured to look like the images they constantly see. Women celebrities, models and actresses are all flawlessly depicted, presenting to audiences that their beauty is achievable, when it is nothing more than piles of makeup and Photoshop.

This distorted image of societal expectations cause people to go to extreme lengths to achieve an impossible goal.

The rise of extreme dieting, steroid abuse and over-exercising has become awfully prevalent in young adults. So prevelent that people are starting to ignore the issue and accept it as a common practice. By doing so, those who follow this routine will not understand the unhealthy lifestyle it brings.

Having a strong desire to fulfill an unrealistic body image will have a negative influence on a person’s life.

Dominique Del Tufo, 19, a front desk receptionist at the local New York Sports Club gym, is a firsthand observer of the appearance of the people who come regularly. “It’s easy to identify the people here who are on steroids,” she said. “These guys look so unnatural, I don’t understand why they take these drugs to look fake.”

A critical reason as to why people go to great lengths to obtain this vision of “attractiveness” is because they do not acknowledge the long-term effects it has on the body.

“Some of these guys don’t even know what they’re putting in their body,” Sean Martel, 22, a member of NYSC said. “They start juicing up because they look good momentarily, but not for one second do they consider the harm it’s actually doing to their bodies,” he adds.

Not too many people recognize that extreme dieting, steroid abuse and over-exercising can be categorized as having an eating disorder or mental health issue.

It is more important to focus on being healthy and to setting personal goals; rather than being in the mindset that you always need to be thinner, or more muscular. 

The more society is exposed to unrealistic expectations in the media, the harder it will be to recover from this situation.

We have to put an end to the “ideal image of beauty,” and realize that it is not reality. There is not one way of defining what it means to be attractive, so we need to instead empower one another. It is time to feel more connected with our own bodies. It is time to put an end to the distorted vision that the media expects us to look like.

We are human – we are not meant to be perfect.