Why do people nowadays possess unrealistic perceptions of beauty? Quick answer: The media’s portrayal of women. We see women that are airbrushed, overly sexualized and flawless. No wonder it’s common that women are still seen as sexual objects, women suffer from low self-esteem and there’s a link made between sex and love, causing people to mistakenly believe that being sexually desired is being loved.
Culprits of this portrayal often start off with the media, in different forms like Seventeen Magazine. Seventeen photoshops gurls to perfection, promoting unrealistic standards of beauty for women.
Julia Bluhm, a feminist activist, decided to protest because she didn’t subscribe to people being morphed so much that the original person is unrecognizable. She got lots of support from 84,000 followers, and went to the magazine with it. Their requests were that the magazine stop photoshopping gurls and put up one picture of an unaltered image every month. The magazine denied that they ever altered the photos; a cowardly reaction with evidence definitely pointing to the contrary. It’s ironically bad business, because they are trying to appeal to young women, and 84,000 of them wanted more healthy and realistic photographs.
Why did Seventeen ignore their customers? Because playing on people’s insecurities promotes business for the fashion industry, health care professionals, psychologists and dating sites. These outside engagements are responsible for advertisements that are the core of the magazine’s business model.
What are the results? Gurls continue to feel insecure about themselves and their bodies and are not as empowered and independent as they could be. It leads to the world focusing too much on sex and attraction. This causes women to place unrealistic standards on themselves, so that eating disorders, liposuction, breast implants, hair extensions, clothes shopping and alterations to one’s appearance get a lot of money thrown at them. This is exactly what the media wants, because the worse we feel about ourselves, the more we spend.
An extreme example of insecurity leading to drastic change is the Real Life Barbie, Valeria Lukanova; a woman who had so much work done that she’s unrealistically perfect. Her body couldn’t actually have been conceived without plastic surgery: Her hips and her stomach are out of proportion, her breasts are too large for the rest of her body, which means that she looks like a human-sized doll. Most women don’t go to these extremes to reach their ideal image, but it just goes to show how much influence the media can actually have on people. This is why it should be wrong for Seventeen to ignore protests of people wanting more real life perceptions of women in their magazine.
What could actually change Seventeen’s approach to how they lay out their magazine? Protesting doesn’t seem to work. Honestly, the only thing to have an impact would be money, since this is what drives them to advertise for women to feel inadequate to begin with. The only control the average person has over the amount of money the magazine receives is whether they buy it or not. If people stop buying it, the magazine would eventually have to change their tactics on how they appeal to people. If making people feel inadequate ceased to work, maybe they would begin to make people feel more beautiful. This would be a definite improvement, because at the moment, it’s hard to ignore.
Being aware of it helps, too. Knowing that the world will probably try to make you feel inadequate can prepare you for when it actually does. It’s really hard to believe that you’re good enough when the world continuously tells you that you’re not, but the important thing to remember is that the media is just trying to manipulate you to get into your pocket book by making you want to become a life sized Barbie doll. And who wants to look like a robot, really?