There is no question that consumerism drives the world we live in. Everywhere we turn, marketers are telling us what we need for our lives to be complete; consequently, materialism has become a substitute for happiness. Drenched in this world of consumerism, where we believe fulfillment comes with how much you can spend, are advertisements that utilize digitally altered, over sexualized women to sell products. On the surface, using images of “perfect” women as marketing tactics may seem harmless; however, seeing as 10 million women struggle with anorexia and bulimia in this country alone, it is impossible to deny the correlation between what marketers are projecting as the idealized women and the health extremes women are willing to take to fit this stereotype.
It is time that we recognize that magazines, movies, and billboards set forth cultural norms and define what our society sees as beauty. In my Social Psychology class at Foothill College, we discuss the power of cultural norms, which can be defined as the standards for accepted and expected behavior. Thus, when an average woman standing 5’4” and 140 pounds flips through her Vogue Magazine seeing images of models who are 5’11” and 110 pounds wearing barely any clothing and marketing make up, it is inevitable that they begin to feel that this model is the ideal form of beauty and that they are not normal because they do not look like the photograph.
Magazines, television advertisements, billboards and the like are setting forth cultural norms regarding beauty and causing normal, beautiful, women to feel self conscious about themselves and take extreme measures to feel beautiful and socially accepted. Given that 13 million men and women binge eat and 10 million women struggle with anorexia or bulimia, the medias influence on society is indisputable. Women are literally killing themselves trying to conform to what our society defines as beautiful. It is extremely unfortunate that what our culture interprets as beautiful are women that have been digitally altered twenty to thirty times or even taken apart and reassembled with features of other women. This is not beauty, this reflects a strong mastery of Photoshop.
What I am petitioning is that Vogue Magazine, one of the most respected and top selling fashion magazines in the world incorporates a two-page spread in each magazine that utilizes regular women, not models. I believe that by using regular, every day, women, Vogue Magazine will start to redefine our cultural norm of beauty. By giving women an opportunity to see other women that look like them in a highly respected magazine, it may decrease the likelihood of women developing eating disorders that can lead to health issues and even death.
It is our human right as women to feel safe in society; that includes feeling safe, secure and confident, without feeling pressure to conform to an unobtainable form of beauty. Thus, when women are objectified and over sexualized in popular culture, not only do they begin to feel insecure, but violence against women rises and they develop a low sense of self-worth. It is my hope that by changing our media’s definition of what is ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexy,’ we will be able to decrease the number of eating disorders and boost women’s self-esteem across the country and hopefully the world.