What Size Is Perfect ?

A while back I remember seeing this video on ABC News about a little girl who thought she  was fat. This made me sad and angry all at the same time. I got to thinking that little girls should not even be worried about the issue of being fat, let alone trying to lose weight! As a child I never had a care in the world about how I looked, now as bigger female I too sometimes worry about my weight and body image issues but I never let the media or anyone for the matter make me feel like I have no worth. Which leads me to wonder what size is “ PERFECT ”  ?

Everywhere you look in today in America’s society, you are bound to see a glamorous, gorgeous, size zero women on ads, television, and in magazines. Is she really that glamorous as she is portrayed to be? Or is that the image that society has painted in the minds of today’s women and teenage girls. Apparently so, in this day and age you have to be a size zero, have flawless skin, and be seen as drop dead gorgeous just to be in the media. This causes the women and teenage girls to develop eating disorders, have low self-esteem, and many more life threatening issues. In reality these images that women and teenage girls look at are photo shopped and edited. Still American society targets women and teenage girls for not being a size zero, and considers what is not obese to be obese. As Women ’s Studies major, we are often forced to look at the facts of how women are viewed, interpreted  or portrayed in society. Women are often subjected to criticism for not living up to societal standards. To examine the issues of body image in the media, we first need to understand where the issues start and the cause and effects they have on women in today’s society.

The effects of body image issues start at a young age. Little girls play with these stick thin toys, known as Barbie, and strive to look and be pretty like her. These little girls believe that Barbie’s life is perfect, because she is skinny and pretty with long blonde hair. “Girls as young as 5 to 7 years reported lower body esteem and a greater desire for a thinner body directly after exposure to such doll images” (Dittmar 2). Looking at it from an African American standpoint, I remember playing with Barbie dolls and wishing my hair would we long and flowing like hers along with many other African American children. This is beside the point, and the point is that America glamourizes tall skinny girls in the media, causing the little girls to grow up and have issues as teenagers and throughout womanhood.

Research has shown that: with women and girls, for whom the “body perfect” ideal is ultra-thin, and whose media models are typically underweight. The new extreme of dress size “zero” represents a starvation-level Body Mass Index (< 16) well in the range of anorexia (Dittmar 2). Anorexia along with various other eating disorders is one of the main causes of teens and women having health problems. Women and teenage girls go through great lengths to keep their bodies up to par with the images in the media even if it means harming their bodies. They do things such as purging, take laxatives, and starve themselves. They do this because they think they will get the results faster and look more and more like the image they are trying to portray. Social factors that can contribute to eating disorders are : Cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” and place value on obtaining the “perfect body”, Narrow definitions of beauty that include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes, and Cultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths (Association). What goes on in their brain when they look in mirror is that they are fat. Whose telling them they are fat is the media and their brains. The media has put a lot of pressure on the celebrities in the images to be thin and if they are not they will find the next best thing.

The reality of the situation is that the media portray these image causing the women and teens to have low self-esteem about themselves. “Individuals may be more likely to seek out and adopt such external norms of ideal beauty as part of their own identity if they lack a clearly defined sense of self. Links between self-concept clarity, internalization of “body perfect” ideals, body image and eating concerns are examined in women” (Dittmar). The women think they will never be good enough, pretty enough, and even thin enough for the American society.We as women come in all shapes and sizes, and we are beautiful and unique in our own way. Once again the images that you see on the ads, television, and magazines are not real, they are edited and photo shopped.  So just remember just because you think it real does not mean it is.

Body Shapes Sketch for blog

Below is a short interesting video of what a human barbie would look like with her bust measuring at 39 inches, her waist at 18 inches, and her hips at 33 inches.



About jgard012

I am a young, Black woman. My name is Javielle Gardner, referred to most as Javi. I am graduating this May, and I am elated to say so! I hope that I get the most out of this course.
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8 Responses to What Size Is Perfect ?

  1. This is fascinating. Actually, MSNBC aired a story the other day about a 9 year old girl who was recently diagnosed with Anorexia. While I don’t think the media is to blame for that case, it’s interesting how that ties in with the video you posted! However, much more relevant, is this ridiculous anorexic movement, women (and men, too) who preach anorexia as a positive lifestyle choice as opposed to a mental illness. ( http://www.nbcnews.com/id/8045047/ns/health-mental_health/t/pro-anorexia-movement-has-cult-like-appeal/ ) However, there’s also a pretty strong movement of “big is beautiful” with more plus size models being featured in media campaigns (one made it pretty darn far in ANTM).

    Since the media isn’t going away anytime soon, what are we going to do? We can’t destroy Barbie…and we can’t live life without media influence…is there any hope? Are mentalities changing or only getting more severe? This is interesting…I’ll keep following whatever pops up on MSNBC/Yahoo news. :) Great food for thought!

    • jgard012 says:

      I saw that story as well, it’s crazy right ?! So sad how people feel the need to encourage others to harm their bodies. They have all these websites that you can go to if you type in ‘ pro ana ‘ in google. Anyway everyone has there opinion on whether the media is the reason for body image issues or if the actual person is to blame, either way someone is battling these issues.

  2. achas002 says:

    This is definitely a serious problem in the world today. Although I fear the United States might be the worst. I remember reading somewhere about store mannequins, in the United States they are completely unrealistic. No woman can physically ever be that size. Yet in Scandinavia, the mannequins are average sized.

    It’s absolutely terrible over here though. I’m overweight myself and I try not to let the media and societal pressures affect me, but there are some days when I feel ashamed just for eating. It’s moments like that, that make me really think about how influential the media really is.

    • jgard012 says:

      You should NEVER feel ashamed for eating. We were all created to be who we are wether we like it or not. Some people are big boned while others are smaller in nature. Not everyone is made to be small or vice versa. What makes me sick is how people down others (mainly overweight people) and judge us for being bigger than them. Not all big people sit around and eat all day like the media or society makes its seem that we do. There are all types of reasons why someone could be bigger than the next, like your metabolism. I just wish the United States was like other countries that except fuller women. 

  3. I’m skeptical of these Barbie studies. If girls who play with Barbie want to have a huge bust and tiny waist then do girls who play with Bratz want to have gigantic heads and eyes? Or flip the gender around and ask: do boys who play with Transformers want to become robots? I think children are much smarter than we give them credit for and are able to distinguish the real world from make believe.

    I recognize that body image is a major issue and you are completely right that it starts in childhood. It’s just that I doubt that Barbie is the villain. A contributing element, sure, but I think of it as something like a “total social phenomenon” as the anthropologist Marcel Mauss would have put it.

    • jgard012 says:

      I completely agree with you there, children are absolutely smarter than they get credit for. I’m a women studies major and in several of my classes we have talked about women and the media and how society has an influence over them. The Barbie hypothesis has came up a lot too, and although some of the girls say what I’ve stated above, you are right, Barbie is not the villain, just some little girls aspire to be her and some think that Barbie is how they should be. While other children who are smarter know and realize that Barbie is just a doll and they will never be her. Children will be children, meaning they are young and believe what they want to believe and do as they want to do. I just hope that it is a “total social phenomenon” and that these Barbie images won’t affect the younger generation.

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