I’m sure we’ve all seen those models on television, or in a magazine, newspaper or billboard. We’ve all admired/marvelled/fantasised about them. Unfailingly, they are all beautiful, tall and skinny. However, despite being what most people look up to, they are not the epitome of human evolution, and are not an accurate depiction of what everyone should appear like naturally. Unfortunately, a lot of young people didn’t seem to get the memo. And that is a seriously escalating problem in today’s society.
A distressing amount of young women nowadays (usually teenagers) are obsessed with their weight and body image. Much of what is considered a ‘healthy BMI (body mass index)’ by experts is in turn denounced by these young teenagers as overweight, pudgy or fat. More and more teenaged girls are diagnosed with bulimia or anorexia (maybe even both), which are both extremely serious conditions, with wide ranging repercussions, which could severely affect the patient’s health or life, even debilitating the patient’s career chances.
I think that this is more than isolated phenomena occurring en masse, but is instead a result of the problems deeply rooted inside today’s media preoccupied society. Many young people have access to, and regularly use, a television set, or alternative media outlet, such as a newspaper or news site on the Internet. It can be found that a staggering amount of attention and coverage are given to celebrities and supermodels, and so, from an early age, young people are ingrained with the notion that being ‘like a celebrity’ is a good thing, judging by the amount of positive hype and popularity they receive. This hits especially hard for teenage girls, who are particularly social creatures, with a close-knit group of friends and confidants. Here, under the pressure of peers and friends, the expectation to conform to society and society’s demands are perhaps the strongest as they ever will be in the human race.
Alienation from her circle of friends is a fate that no girl wants. To avoid this fate, girls will adhere extremely strongly to the standards set by role models and admired celebrities. This trend, observed by their male counterparts with derision and amusement, is ‘fangirlism’ and usually applies to young, teenage male celebrities such as Justin Bieber and One Direction. As these desired idols are regularly seen associating with the slim model type women, the pinnacle of what any girl wishes to appear like, many teens attempt to match their physique and appearances with fanatic fervour, despite unattainable differences such as age, height and lack of professional equipment and funds.
But the effect of the media’s use of an overinflated (in my opinion) sense of importance in regards to the body image of celebrities has permeated deep into our society. At schools, bullying was, and still is, an enormous problem. And along with race, academic prowess and gender, one of the main reasons bullies target victims is because of their weight. Overweight students are usually sensitive about the matter and when it is placed in the spotlight and exaggeratedly and mercilessly ridiculed, the victim may be particularly hurt and be driven to drastic actions. These ‘drastic actions’ may range from suicide to drugs to obsessions with losing weight- all of which have broad field of potential consequences, none of them positive.
But despite these overwhelming negatives for body image in the media and in advertisements, there can be concurrent benefits, if done properly. In an age where the standard of living is extremely high in developed countries, and where technology does practically everything for you, obesity is peaking. By broadcasting a sensible ideal to kids and teenagers about the correct, healthy, body image, the media might be able to curtail this destructive trend and restore people around the world to some semblance of an independent, healthy race, fit to be the dominant species on planet Earth.
This was a practice essay I wrote in preparation for… something. I thought it would be a good idea to post something non-fiction for a change.
Kevin Tang 10F