Ideal women Essay

Ideal Women Essay

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The American women of today can never be too thin or too pretty. In most cases thin equates beauty, so the present ideal is a thin, fit, radiantly healthy, young woman. In magazines stuffed with models and advertisements, billboards on the highway, and actresses on TV, the message of what women should look like is everywhere. The inescapable presence of these images in effect shapes the image of women today.

It is very unfortunate that the media influences American society to the point that it defines the "ideal woman." According to Naomi Wolf, author of the bestselling book, The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women , one reason media is so influential is "advertising is a 130 billion dollar a year industry. The average American watches 30 hours of TV a week and spends 110 hours a year reading magazines. That adds up to exposure to 1500 ads daily" (45). Advertising is a powerful educational force in our culture due to the simple fact of exposure. Economics is also a significant factor in the development of the ideal image. There is a wealth of businesses that depend upon the American desire for thinness to survive. Exercise and diet companies are an example. In order to create a market for their product, they attempt to make women feel inadequate about their own bodies through advertisement. According to Wolf, "the diet industry has tripled its income in the past 10 years from a $10 billion industry to a $33.3 billion industry" (47).

Other companies that cater to the current "large" population sell beauty, tactfully. As William Lutz points out in his article, "With these Words I can Sell You Anything," girdles are called body shapers or control garments (158), and in Diane White's article, "Euphemisms for the Fat of the Land," extra-extra large is changed to queen size (176). Either way, it is their diet, exercise, or control product that will get women on the way to the thinner, and better, more popular, sexy ideal.

Advertisers manipulate women into thinking their value is dependent on their physical appearance. They appeal to that basic human desire to be wanted, accepted, and sexually attractive, as Charles O'Neill points out in his article, "The Language of Advertising"(163).

One reason this "ideal" has manipulated the American society in particular, is that it appeals to some basic American values. This country prizes things like individuality, self-help, hard work, success, and self-control. Women are given the message that if they just work hard enough at dieting and exercise, they can be thin, beautiful and happy. Women, especially, are told that their efforts in perfecting their bodies will be rewarded by success in both their professional and personal lives. If they fail at achieving the ideal, they are told to try harder. A fat person is seen as lazy or greedy or without self-control.

This manipulation of

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