Society and mass media has always been in charge of creating and setting standards and categorizations by which America and the rest of the world is supposed to live by and live up to. In this country, image is of the utmost importance, and who we presume to be is more important than who we actually are. How we view ourselves, and how we think we should look like is largely affected by society in its creation of the “ideal” men and women.
But it is mostly women, who appear to be on the receiving end of such “ideal” standards which society imposes on the rest of us on a daily basis, through magazines, television shows, commercial ads, and practically the whole of mass media. I talked to my friend, Seunghye Lee, regarding this issue, and her answers provided a significant but alarming insight on the effect mass media has on women of every race and culture, and the unfortunate success which the said system apparently has on influencing women’s standards regarding self image and body issues.
Seunghye Lee, as evident from her name, is Korean. After graduating from elementary school in Korea, she left for the United States, and has since been studying in this country. She is now twenty years old, majoring in biology, with a minor in psychology. But Seunghye is considering shifting to chemistry because she believes the field requires a greater amount of logical thinking, as opposed to plain memorization, which, from experience, she believes is what biology is limiting her to.
Despite the length of time she has been staying in America, and how she appears very American, Seunghye understands a lot about her roots and the Korean culture. I met her at the main library for interview, and appearing relatively tall, healthy, as well as cheerful and with a sunny and optimistic view and disposition, I did not think she would be affected by the oppressive standards of media, nor would she feel bad about her body. I was wrong. When asked how she feels about her body, Seunghye replies, “I feel like I need to lose a little bit of weight because since I entered college, I gained some weight.
People say that I am pretty tall, and I look healthy. ” She confesses to feeling more conscious of her body when she turns to fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan, and admits wanting to hit the gym more often when she looks at images of beautiful and skinny girls on the magazine. But since she’s entered college, she’s had fewer times in which she needed to look at magazines anymore. Like probably most adolescents and women of her age, Seunghye feels that she needs to lose weight, even when peeople tell her that she has a relatively normal and healthy body.
Her idea of happiness, where her physical features, and wher body is concerned, is “losing a few pounds” and “having a toned body. ” But unlike others, she believes in exercise, work-outs, and hitting the gym, as a healthier means of losing weight, as opposed to starving oneself to death by not eating. When asked ultimately, if women today feel pressured, and if she feel pressured regarding her body image, Seunghye relates, “Yes, yes it affects me. I’m pressured to not look fat. ” Despite such statement, she admits, “I do not want to be too skinny, but I want to be fit and toned. It would be nice to have a body like Angelina Jolie.
” It is clear from Seunghye’s response, and by the way the rest of adolescent women across America choose to dress, or behave, and regard themselves, that body issues and image affects all involved. Mass media unfortunately exploits this particular weakness which most, if not, all of us are prone to falling trap into. Women are torn in the “double bind,” between standards set by society which dictates we should be “sexy” and “feminine” by wearing the type of clothes designers choose to put on models and celebrities, and in conventional standards which asks that we should also appear “chaste” and “virginal.
” How we should regard and relate to our body should not be affected by the crassness of images and ideas being peddled by media. There exists a struggle and a need to break free from these standards, stereotypes, and maybe even cliches, regarding our body images. We need to create our own standards and not let media, society, or any system force feed ideologies regarding how we should act and who we are to become: for our sake, and for the benefit of all involved.