Subliminal lies

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By Mary Kiwanuka

With an arm seductively shielding her breasts, a model sits cross-legged on top of a giant martini glass. She’s wearing a short, black, low-cut dress and a pair of stiletto heels.

This woman is a familiar sight for consumers — she’s candy for the eyes, an advertiser’s confetti.

This woman is beautiful. Our society is eager to consume a steady diet of “beautiful people,” especially women, to sell products.

What is beautiful you ask? She looks to be about a size three, her skin is inhumanly flawless — there’s not a single laugh line, freckle or blemish on her face. She is indeed perfect. That’s the reason she’s on the cover of Esquire and you’re not — at least this is what you’re led to believe.

Neena Saxena, a member of MediaWatch, a national organization that analyzes trends in the media and their societal effects, believes that our media-obsessed society has created a beauty myth few women can achieve. She writes, “even models themselves are often computer enhanced on paper. Scars are removed, eye colour changed, skin tightened and smoothed. [As a result] women are starving their bodies and cosmetically altering ethnic features to meet this computerized ideal. An ideal that is young, white, able-bodied and above all, THIN.”

When discussing abuse of women, people don’t consider the negative psychological damage women endure from advertising each day. In a recent body image survey, Psychology Today magazine found that 45 per cent of women form their body image after celebrities and high-fashion models. The study found that 19 per cent of men do the same. While 35 per cent of men form their body image from sports figures, only seven per cent of women do the same.

The survey also concluded that women are tired of seeing models who are not representative of a “natural range of body types.” Three out of 10 women felt anger and resentment because they couldn’t identify with the models.

But what to do? The media dictates what’s in, what’s out and how to look good and how to get asked out on a date or how to get the ring on the finger.

When women of all shapes and sizes are starving themselves to fit a beauty myth, we all need to stop, relate and evaluate the media. In an article in Briarpatch Magazine, Saxena points out it’s only genetically possible for five per cent of the population to fit the beauty myth and virtually all these so-called perfect models and actresses have to be enhanced to meet the media standard. What we consider to be beautiful isn’t even a reality. So who is it who decided our beauty standard? You or an account executive sitting behind a mahogany desk? Think about it.

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