Fashion mags set society’s standards

If a person goes to a clinic for an eating disorder, one of the first things the staff does is confiscate his/her fashion magazines. This is one fact that I learned in class this morning that stuck with me throughout the day. 

I attend my Mass Media and Society class every Monday and Wednesday. Lucky for me, this week’s topic focused on body image and the media. While sitting in class this morning, I thought about how poisoned our society really is. I blog about this topic almost every day, and yet today while cleaning my apartment, I noticed how many fashion magazines were lying around that depicted the beautifully photoshopped bodies of celebrities.  I spend so much money on magazines per year, and half of them fall into the gossip or fashion categories.

As I flipped through the glossy pages of my new Cosmopolitan with Megan Fox on the cover, I actually stopped myself and stared at the photograph of this perfect person. The magazine portrays her like she is magically sculpted from a dream world. Her eyes are crystal blue, she is beyond skinny, her facial features are flawless, I’m talking actually perfect. To top it all off, her hair is at her hips and shines like diamonds reflecting off the ocean. Though I’m sure Megan Fox is beautiful in reality, if she really looks like this then scientists should freeze her in time and showcase her in a museum.

It’s no wonder we’re self conscious. We studied in class that once you hit a certain age, you’ve had so much exposure to the media that its messages may not affect you as greatly as they once would have. However, if I had seen this photograph of Megan Fox in a tight, pink dress plastered on the cover of Cosmopolitan when I was 13-years-old, I’m sure I would be begging my mom to let me buy the same dress, or at least something similar. 

Now, let’s think of the ratios pertaining to gender. I’d like to bring some examples to the attention of the public that were discussed in my class today.  In the movie The School of Rock, Tameka, a heavy set African American middle schooler with an unbelievable singing voice, doesn’t want to get on stage because she’s afraid people will judge her weight and dismiss her. This is a classic example of the affect the media has on teenage girls. Jack Black then compares her to Aretha Franklin, and all worries are forgotten. Next, we all remember Elle Woods. The sorority chick from Legally Blonde who miraculously scored a 179 on the LSATs and submitted a video of herself in a bikini to Harvard Law’s admissions. It’s pretty clear that Elle was accepted into Harvard because of the way she looked, not because of her test score. Furthermore, the cover of Legally Blonde’s DVD is completely photoshopped. Reese Witherspoon’s body is stretched and airbrushed, as if her natural figure in her admission video isn’t perfect enough. These examples all assume the concept that women are depicted as objects, and men are portrayed according to process. 

Pertaining to men, a perfect example of the pressure society inflicts on body image can be found in the movie Fight Club. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton’s bodies are chiseled. We know this because they have their shirts off for about 85 percent of the movie. There’s also a scene in Fight Club which features the two characters on a public bus, criticizing a Gucci underwear ad and wondering about the model’s physique. These two examples highlight the concept of process versus object. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton represent process, they obtained their statuesque figures by beating each other up. It is safe for the viewer to assume that the Gucci model did not. Process is a more masculine concept. 

The media’s messages are extremely intense. I can’t control my addiction to fashion and gossip magazines, and most likely, I’ll never stop reading them. However, I know that the media plays tricks on me through the concepts of enhancing celebrity bodies through photoshop and other computerized programs.  On this note, I would love to give a shout out to Elle Magazine, who photographed models in their natural light (who still looked gorgeous) back in April. It was, for me at least, a slap in the face to society and all its believers. 

stars-sans-fards

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~ by jklein0414 on October 1, 2009.

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