The Unattainable Ideals of Beauty

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Author and filmmaker Jean Kilbourne has been calling attention the distorted idea of beauty that is imposed on women by advertising.

Products and models sync in creating an idolized appearance that is naturally unattainable. Women are routinely Photoshopped to be made thinner and bustier, with airbrushed-perfect skin, suggesting to the female onlookers that they should strive to look immaculately sexy. Since this ideal image is impossible without the use of high-tech software, many are left feeling body-shamed and inadequate.

Women are also being objectified by being framed as a product in themselves, becoming part of whatever it is being sold. Not only does this affect women’s self-esteem, but it also promotes violence. Dehumanizing a person is almost always the first step toward justifying brutality. When bodies are de- and re-constructed as objects, they ultimately become almost inanimate, subject to inevitable violence.

Women’s bodies being treated in this unrealistic fashion is a major contributing factor to the increasing amount of eating disorders around the world. Most models are already obscenely thin, and are further skewed to look even more appetizingly small. Advertising is thus not only helping promote a distorted feminine ideal, but it inadvertently contributes to societal problems like obsession with slimness and youth, leading to growing rates of plastic surgery, anorexia and other eating disorders and, in its extreme manifestation, violence against women.

Jean Kilbourne shines the light on the dire need to recognize that this problem affects us all, and the only solution is to change this obscene environment we have created for women in society.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: SIphotography

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