The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Pressure to fit a certain body type fills media

By Ginny Jacobs

Contributing Writer

Body image doesn’t depend on what size or shape you are. We can be beautiful and fulfill the stresses that society demands and feel great about ourselves. On the other hand, we can be just the same and hate the way we look. Body image is all about how we feel and perceive ourselves, and society doesn’t always make that easy.

In society today there is a huge demand to look a certain way. If you have ever read a fashion magazine or watched any music video you are probably aware that the media isn’t kind to women. The ideal size for women in Hollywood and in high fashion is often a rail-thin size zero.

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You may be aware of how Tyra Banks has recently gained weight, forcing her to have to defend her shape on television and in magazines.  “I get so much mail from young girls who say, ‘I look up to you, you’re not as skinny as everyone else, I think you’re beautiful,’ So when they say my body is ugly and disgusting, what does that make those girls feel like?” Banks said in People Magazine. 

It is not surprising that physical attractiveness plays a huge role in our culture. Every period of history has had its own standards of what is and is not beautiful. In the 19th century being beautiful meant wearing a corset, which caused breathing and digestive problems. Now we try to diet and exercise ourselves into what we deem as “fashionable” shape, which often brings even more serious consequences.

Advances in technology and the rise of mass media have caused normal concerns about how we look to become obsessions. Televisions, billboards, and magazines cause us to see “beautiful people” all the time, more often than our older family members did in their day, making these unrealistic standards of beauty seem both normal and attainable. It is likely that young women now see more images of outstandingly beautiful women in one day than their mothers saw throughout their entire teenage years.

Women these days are in fact trying to achieve the impossible as far as standards of beauty. Standards of female beauty have in fact become progressively more unrealistic during the 20th century. In 1917, the physically perfect woman was about 5′ 4” tall and weighed nearly 140 pounds. Even 25 years ago, top models and beauty queens weighed only 8% less than the average woman, now they weigh 23% less. 

We are constantly bombarded by images telling us how our bodies should look and feel. One of the most difficult aspects of achieving a healthy body image is being able to resist the social pressures around us telling us that are bodies are not good enough. We have to realize that these messages we see in the media are unrealistic and that bodies come in different shapes and sizes.

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