Discriminating Bodies

What is Discrimination:

Hollywood culture constantly bombards us with images of the emaciated model; stick thin with not an ounce of fat. If a model or actress is unable to naturally achieve this desired look then she is sent for remodeling and pulled apart and reproduced as a conglomerate of images and digital renderings far removed from true reality.[1] Famously, Cindy Crawford was recorded as saying she wished that she looked like the Cindy Crawford reproduced in media depictions.[2] This skeleton of a body is held up as the emblematic symbol of beauty, but in actuality, this form is so unattainable because no one can actually achieve this digital appearance not even the celebrities themselves.

Such a culture largely discriminates against the regular woman who comes in all shapes and sizes. Women are told to love their bodies yet are constantly fed this ideal form and told to live up to the expectation. Similarly men are bombarded with images where musculature is so defined it is almost impossible to naturally achieve. This modern culture avidly discriminates against the “regular” individual leaving one to feel insecure about their bodies and in some cases forcing young persons into eating disorders in order to maintain a figure representative of magazine covers.[3] Lets face it; we live in a culture that discriminates against us, even the celebrities that engender these stereotypical norms. No one can actually achieve this near perfect beauty without the help a computer or a good surgeon. What this Hollywood culture forgets is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what is attractive to one does not apply to the majority. Society needs to stop discriminating based on these fictions before more young girls and boys die at the behest of eating disorders that seem to be plaguing western nations.

An interesting read: http://bulimica.livejournal.com/

[1] Hasse-Biber, 65-66.

[2] Kilbourne, Killing us Softly 2

[3] Refer to the link – Journal about bulimia

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5 Responses to Discriminating Bodies

  1. dorothea3 says:

    I wholly agree with your comment. Hollywood constantly bombards us with this image of ideal female beauty, but failure to achieve this standard of beauty is inevitable because it is based upon absolute flawlessness. Some may argue that the media is wrongfully blamed for putting pressure on girls and women to look thin. However, this burgeoning realm of computer retouching, cosmetics, and airbrushing has far-reaching effects. These resources have a great deal of subliminal power and negatively influence how women view their bodies.

    Body image is a vital concern because the viewer does not always think through the complexity of the relationship between media messages and the bearing it has on our subsequent thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. In her film, “Killing Us Softly 4,”Jean Kilbourne argues that advertising affects women’s self esteem and it also influences how men view women. Adolescent girls are forced to process these unblemished images (which are often four or five women put together) and unknowingly, aspire to become a size 0 or 00, which leads to a slew of other issues related to depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders.

  2. ersilva1994 says:

    I completely agree with your comment that men are also bombarded with a lot of images that they have to live up to. While flipping through magazines to find an image to analyze for the the Ad Critique, I noticed that most of the men depicted where wearing a six pack. Just like women, men see this and want to achieve it in order to be wanted by women or men. On a personal level, I know that the constant ads with built men or very slim men get to me. It makes me dislike my body and makes me want what I don’t have. In retrospect, it is close to impossible for me to ever look like the slim men on ads because my body is just not built that way. In regards to the abs, it is possible but most likely not for someone with my lifestyle. I wish more ads included men with a little extra. Do advertisers forget that their clothes come in Large and Extra Large? I have never come across a store that only carries small and medium. It is time to represent people with a little more to love in ads. Both to show we exist and to show that we are just as attractive as men who are slim and men with abs.

  3. mikeal0102 says:

    I echo your concern and have noticed in looking for articles for another blog post that I was writing that bulimia is now increasingly affecting young men too. So many “thinspiration” websites have popped up all over the internet to inspire now both young men and women to reach this ideal thinness. What I find most interesting is even with male models there seems to be a small yet noticeable move to the thin emaciated male too especially with the rise of so called “hipster” culture. A lot of the clothes advertised only seem to work well with these types of bodies and would look strange even on the “conventional” muscular physique. Like yourself, I agree Kilbourne may have gotten it wrong and that we do take in most of the images we are bombarded with. Unfortunately if the problem is become increasingly psychological then it is going to become harder to fix. You can stop someone from doctoring images but its much harder to change the way people see themselves and the way they think!

  4. javellys says:

    I agree that woman are told to love their bodies and then expected to resemble someone in a magazine. But I think you bring up an even more interesting point: the measures people are willing to go to even though the end result is impossible, such as bulimia. What I think also plays a role is the psychological effects the images that are advertised have on people. Kilbourne mentioned that some people say they don’t pay attention to advertisement, but this is quite impossible because we are bombarded with images everyday. We may not think we are affected but subconsciously those images stay with us and they become what we view as “normal”. This, I believe, is the main reason people, especially young women go to those extreme measures such as bulimia to get the perfect body. In their mind, that is what is expected of them. There is a greater problem here; it is turning psychological.
    Source: Kilbourne, Killing Us Softly 2

  5. Thank you for bringing up this topic that we had spoken about a couple classes ago, mikeal0102. I really had not realized how much the media emphasized the use of a the “perfect model” through a stick skinny figure that is no way even possible to achieve while still obtaining perfect health before the reading of Hesse-Biber. I was honestly shocked to learn about the amount of retouching that is done on a single ad, even if the model is considerably already very skinny. You brought up a point in which you said “Such a culture largely discriminates against the regular woman who comes in all shapes and sizes. Women are told to love their bodies yet are constantly fed this ideal form and told to live up to the expectation”. I agree with this statement but there are magazines, such as the magazine Prof. Lundeen showed us, Brigitte, that uses photos of real women in the magazines. However, It is a matter of the majority, and there are simply not nearly enough mediums that chose to not edit their photos. In this way, there is a never ending cycle of consumers who purchase magazines in which models have the most “desirable” physique because of the insecurities that the social mediums set. The more people continue to purchase these magazines, the less chance there is of magazine companies changing the models they chose or the photos they edit, because like the saying goes “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” To them, the motive is to make money. The photos of unattainable bodies that magazines, radio shows, and advertisements show allow for a continual amount of income because consumers like to see pictures of what they could someday look like, even though these pictures give a false hope. At the end of your post, I don’t know whom are you referring to when you say “society needs to stop discriminating based on these fictions…” but I think the amount of eating disorders will only be lessened when BOTH the producers discontinue how they depict their models and when the consumer no longer purchases and/or pays attention to these social mediums and what the put out.

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