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The Cost of Perfection

Unlike the traditional society, the needs of the modern society are diverse. For example, in the list of basic needs, the needs for self-esteem and love are becoming more important. This is because of different societal changes such as the lack of love, obsession with fame, and other changes. As the world becomes a global village, more and more people are getting lost in it, and many others are becoming affected. One of the most affected groups are females since there is too much pressure on them to have perfect bodies (Dr. Hinshaw). The media are saturated with perfect body images while many other agencies require females to have perfect shapes in order to become supermodels for the fashion industry.

To start with, the societal expectations and social trends are on top of the reasons putting pressure on girls who want to fit the society that is demanding more than can be given. Ryan explains this by stating that the US culture, as a part of the European culture, expects women to be beautiful, and thinness is a component of this beauty. Particularly, Ryan blames the mass media for their continuous reinforcement of positive stereotypes of success and beauty in women and the society in general. According to Ryan, the media have created a socially ideal body type and toppled this with the positive attributes to this body. He explains that thinness was not part of this attribute in the past as people like Merlin Monroe had their curves but were still regarded as cultural icons and beauties by the society and the media. However, this changed from the 1960s to the present as less curvaceous body and slimness were added to the perfect body type. As years progress, thin girls become thinner. This was officially promoted in the 1980s when it was popular to be as slim as Twiggy; a thin woman in the Madame Tussaud’s London Wax Museum was rated as the most beautiful woman in the whole world. Since then, the perfect body type has changed over the past few years from what the North American woman’s physical reality was like or was described. Consequently, an ideal body mold has been presented to women, and female body had to be constructed in order to fit this mold. However, Ryan explains that the media do not understand that it is hard for most women to fit this mold since it is too thin for them (Ryan 2).

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Willliams backs Ryan’s argument by adding social media to the media, which put pressure on women by requiring them to have thin bodies. In his book The A-Z of PSE, Williams claims that the most affected society is the modern Western society that wants women to be slim and look beautiful (Williams 13). On the contrary, other societies such as the African society promote the image of voluptuous women through ancient festivals and still send brides to fattening farms in order to have them plumped and put into proper fat shape before their weddings. Jewish and Italians still think that skinny bodies are the resul of poverty and sickness. Particularly, the African society associates skinny bodies with AIDS (Bordo). In fact, African women perform poorly in the world beauty contests, because their ideal bodies are not as thin as required by the Western society.

To explain how serious the issue of female perfection through thinness is, Bordo gives the story of a young woman who seems to be obsessed with thinness. She explains that the young girl is not fat in the first place. The ideal weight for her is only 115 pounds according to her height. However, the young girl still feels that she is dumpy as compared to other women in the media like Lady Marmalade. When she thinks of such celebrities as Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink, and Lil Kim, the young woman believes that they were born perfect in their own ways unlike her who was not. As a result, she develops self-hatred and shame as she watches the music videos full of beautiful girls. She envies them and wishes to look like them; she is ready to loose as much weight as possible in order to resemble them.

Mills also contributes to this topic in her book Expectations for Women: Confronting Stereotypes. As a cover of her book, Mills chose a photo of a very thin female who looks like a doll. The woman is carrying a heavy briefcase in her right hand, which contradicts her low weight. Her clothes loosely cover her body to compliment her doll-like face. By her side, there is a beautiful woman who looks like a celebrity. Mills’ cover photo speaks for itself as she explains how girls are surrounded by media sources that expect them to be slim and beautiful at the same time. She explains that the woman in the cover photo is Barbie, the ideal woman created by the media as their “beauty standard” (Mills 6). Just like Ryan and other authors who have presented their views on this issue, Mills blames the media for creating such images as Barbie. She explains that such “hot girls” as Barbie is what the media have created as the standards of beauty. Thus, young girls see imperfection when they look in the mirror and compare themselves with the “hot girls” created by the media (Mills 6).

According to Schulten, so much pressure raises the need of carrying out some campaigns to remove this notion from the minds of young girls (Schulten). Her thoughts are supported by Camila who argues that the pressure to have perfect bodies is becoming too strong. Camila explains that this pressure has been created by Hollywood modeling businesses who want women with perfect bodies to work for them (Urquiza). Consequently, many females are facing the risks of depression, eating disorders, and suicide among other problems in their struggle to have perfect bodies and please the society (BBC News). Seerly argues that the game of perfection is dangerous since many women are engaging in numerous plastic surgeries, which is too risky for them. According to her, the problem lies in the women’s belief that their power is in their physical bodies, especially their beauty (Seely 132). 

Following this, something has to be done in order to solve the problem and save women from this menace. One of the solutions put forward is funding and launching campaigns against perfections. Another way of solving the problem is encouraging women to be fearless as explained by Seerly in her book Fight like a Girl (Seely). This is also supported by Mills who argues that young women need to ignore the malicious messages by holding to their self-esteem and enjoying their wonderful bodies. Mills explains that this can be done through sports, which for a long time have been labeled as activities outside women’s world. Women, according to Mills, have to take their poise in the future and change the stereotypes and expectations that have been imposed on them for centuries (Mills).

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However, the best proposal for this solution has been presented in John Hopkins’s University website; it is aimed at dealing with the problem of negative body image and eating disorders. According to the information in this website, Body Talk videos should be used to educate young people on the role of culture and media in developing body image attitudes (John Hopkins University). Similar proposal has also been presented by Kater who argues that health body syllabus lessons need to be adopted in order to promote healthy bodies. These lessons can also help children in resisting toxic myths that have always promoted unnecessary body images and eating disorders. Children, as well as young women, need to understand that beauty is skin deep, and a book cannot be judged by its cover. By doing so, children and young women can learn how to defend themselves from myths stating that the right look is the thin or lean body (Kater).

In conclusion, the pressure on women to have a perfect body is real. Based on the findings of this discussion, most authors agree that the mass media is the institution responsible for persuading women to have perfect bodies. Consequently, many females are suffering from depression, eating disorders, and suicide among other conditions because of their struggle for perfection. Because of this, solutions such as campaigns, positive body images, and empowering women should be taken in consideration in order to eliminate the perception that women have to be beautiful for them to be accepted.