Media Creates Unrealistic Goals for Both Genders

October 5, 2012

As I read the opinions section in last week’s Signal edition, I couldn’t help but to notice the hovering essence of man that I found there. Now, don’t get me wrong, I of all people can appreciate a good Star Wars or Borderlands 2 discussion, but for the sake of my less-than-manly comrades and all of my fellow estrogen-bearers, let me spare you.  This week, I say we switch things up a bit.

I bet when you woke up this morning, your day probably went a little something like the following.

The snooze went off for the third time in a row and you half-heartily made the decision to roll out of your glorious twin-sized dorm room bed and start the day. Depending on whom you are, or the amount of sweet tea you inhaled before you went to bed that night, your first stop may differ (but it’s probably the bathroom). But I can be almost certain of one thing: whether a girl or a guy, you didn’t leave your room without looking in the mirror first. Maybe you were pleased with what you saw, maybe you weren’t. Maybe you didn’t care, or maybe that’s just what you told yourself as you slipped off to class hoping that the world would see something different in you than that reflective piece of glass did. However you were feeling in that moment, something told you to feel that way.

Everyone has heard and read their fair share of strongly worded arguments on how horribly our society and the media affect women. How the pressure to live up to this certain, nearly unobtainable standard of beauty is placed before us. I know; I have even written a few said arguments on the subject myself. There is no disputing it. But it leads me to the question: what is beauty? For some it may be the fresh new flower buds blossoming in spring, the soft innocence of an infant’s first laugh, or even the beauty of dreaming or creating something new and inspiring. Possibly, for you, the thought of beauty is not aesthetic at all, but makes you shutter under the weight of your own insecurity. The heart of this insecurity lies with us not feeling like we could ever possibly amount to what society tells us is beautiful, attractive, or charming.

Who decides the value of beauty? Who decides what’s pretty, and what’s not? Even the people society views as beautiful, unstoppable, perfect women, find themselves captured by the pressure to be more — more than what they are, and more of what people want them to be. The media is like an inconspicuous genocide slowly but surely taking over and creating its own race of perfect, toned, tanned, airhead Barbies. They compel women with “the perfect life;” how to look good, feel good and get what you want. However, there is one all but simple catch: you must turn into the woman they say you should be.

Entertainment and advertisements place in front of us this portrait of the ideal woman, one with a flawless complexion, voluminous flowing hair, a perfect 0.6 waist-to-hip ratio, all while dancing on their heads and staying completely sane at the same time. This image is forced into our heads as the epitome of woman that in reality, no one can achieve.

And it’s not just women that society scrutinizes. We don’t talk about as much, but I know that men feel the burdens to be what our culture dubs as good-looking and acceptable as well.

The world tells guys that if they are not tall, dark and handsome, with a strong jaw and chiseled features, they won’t get attention from women—or at least they will have to work ubër hard to not be forever stuck in Friend Zone Land with them. Oh, and as a bonus, gentleman, you also have to be smart, make good money and exude charm all at the same time. The only problem is that it isn’t possible. Even the most successful, head on their shoulders kind of person has issues with media scrutiny. This worldwide bully can make even the strongest individual feel pressured to be something they are not and feel like they are not deserving  even simple forms of praise. There is a lot of stress for people to look a certain way, dress a certain way and be a certain way that is not who they really are. Who are we really pleasing in striving for this?

Everyone wants to witness beauty, and everyone wants to display beauty. But a majority of the time, we don’t realize the true beauty that is in every one of us, the beauty that makes each person unique. Our society and the media try to define and outline for people specific characteristics that will bring approval, when in reality, it is not those characteristics that make you beautiful— you already are.

The most beautiful person is the person who isn’t striving to be beautiful. It’s the one who is completely comfortable with themselves and who God made them to be. Don’t listen to anything else that tries to tell you otherwise.

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