The Impact of Beauty Trends on Your Body

Female beauty standards arise from what we are fed and exposed to by media. The trends and ideals of beauty media focuses on is constantly evolving with every era depending on who and what the cameras chose to focus the spotlight on. It is inevitable that not everyone will fall in line with beauty expectations set by media, which leads to some women believing they are ugly rather than beautiful. Ultimately, this causes a decline to their self worth and confidence and as a result may lead to depression, anxiety, stress, or eating disorders, which all act as a burden to deal with in everyday life.

Rehabs.com, a national evidence-based data collection and rating system site, claims that the increase of mass media that arose in the 20th century glamourized body figures that were considerably slimmer than the average American woman. This trend in size became a popular beauty standard, which is still enforced in modern American society. In, “Vanishing Point: The Evolution of 20th Century American Beauty Ideals,” (2015) rehabs.com displays how popular culture icons dictate this beauty trend. The site states that in the 1950s, the icon of the century was the curvaceous actress and model, Marilyn Monroe. A vast majority of women desired to possess Monroe’s full figure, for she was labeled as a “bombshell” and “sex symbol” by the media. However, by the 1960s, Monroe’s idolization declined and the ideal image of a beautiful woman was reinvented by the model, Twiggy, who was naturally incredibly thin, thus setting an unreal expectation for the average sized American woman to meet. This trend carried on to the 1970s and was popularized by the popular singer, Karen Carpenter, who publicized the trend of starvation dieting. By 1983, diet pills were created as a way to curve women’s’ appetites so they could achieve their desired figure. Eventually, the desire to be thin led to the emergence of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.

The beauty trend of being incredibly thin led to a mass dissatisfaction of body image amongst American females, which evidently is still an issue today. The source claims that today, most models weigh approximately 23% less than the average American woman. Plus size has shrunk as well. Ten years ago, plus size ranged from size 12–18. Now, plus size is only represented in size 6–14. However, over half of American women are size 14 or larger, which clearly shows that even plus size women no longer represent the average American woman, let alone an actual plus size woman. This is setting an example for how the average women should look, since models are found everywhere from billboards, to advertisements, television, movies, social media, and magazines. Overtime, the overexposure of this body type becomes internalized by women, which influences them to adapt to an extremely slim body type, which can be unhealthy if one develops and eating disorder.

A majority of young adults view eating disorders as a trend or fad and fail to realize that eating disorders are an actual serious mental illness. According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Anorexia Nervosa is when a person starves themselves due to obsessive weight loss. As a result of this behavior, the body slowly shuts down due to lack of nutrition. They state that eating disorders may arise from genetics or cultural environment, like society’s pressure predominantly on young adults to conform to our culture’s ideal beauty standards. While nobody can prevent genetics from causing eating disorders, we can try to prevent society’s impact on body image with body positivity encouragement.

If media were to focus attention on all sorts of body types from curvy to skinny, tall to short, stalky to lanky, and everything in between, women would not feel such a pressure to manipulate their bodies to look skinny. By seeing someone represented in media that looks like you, and having that person be glamourized as beautiful rather than undesirable, you internalize that you are beautiful too. However, when society focuses on only one body type and advertises it as the only desirable way for a woman to look, it influences a decline to the self-confidence of women who do not meet that body expectation. We should celebrate and accept every body type, not just one. By doing this, everyone will feel confident in their own skin.