Beauty Standards: “The Body Myth” by Rebecca Johnson

Johnson, the author of The Body Myth article published in 1996, discusses a range of negative feedback received from customers and related to thin models, dictating beauty standards. In particular, the female readers were outraged that observing almost dystrophic models on the pages of Vogue magazine, they tend to encounter anorexia and eating disorders. Responding to these accusations, Johnson claims that in spite of its influential impact, media cannot cause anorexia as the latter is a complex disease that is affected by various factors (656). For example, genetic predisposition, poor eating habits, or a combination of several factors are considered as ones that can affect the human body. However, some representatives of the feminist movement argue that the image of an ideal female body proposed by media promotes the male-dominated form of society. In her turn, the author of the article disagrees with this statement, pointing out that “thinness as an ideal has traditionally accompanied periods of greater freedom for women” (657).

Another article by O’Connor explores the causes and tendencies of ethnic plastic surgery. The author notes that many Asian-Americans and African-Americans tend to change their racial features, while other ethnicities, such as Asians, for example, argue that they do not prefer to westernize (O’Connor par. 14). Thus, this tendency is inherent to people from the US. In their turn, Eicher et al. explain this phenomenon as a method of adorning the body (28). Considering humans as social beings, the authors believe that the society a person lives in identifies his or her appearance peculiarities and even changes them like in the case with African-Americans and Asian-Americans.

Personally, I agree with the point of view of the author to some extent. Indeed, media, especially women magazines such as Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar, have a great impact on women and their perceptions of the body. Some women try to change by dieting or exercising, yet I believe that only those with perfectionism or self-doubt can come up with anorexia. Everything is good with a moderate amount of effort. In other words, it seems that a woman herself establishes attitudes towards beauty and her own eating habits under some impact of media. In any way, it is impossible to accuse the magazine solely of adverse influence. It seems that the number of ethnic plastic surgeries grows due to globalization that integrates people from all over the world where a person from Africa can be inspired by another person from the US.

Nowadays, people still observe those who suffer from anorexia under the impact of thin models. Thus, fashion magazines also can make the same statements as Vogue in 1996. However, it is still incorrect to argue that media can solely cause eating disorders in healthy women. It should be noted that today great attention is given to this topic as it is discussed by media, feminists, health care representatives, and plenty of other interested parties. On the contrary, men’s magazines do not promote the concept of thin models, suggesting the audience only athletic and strong image of a perfect man (“Men’s Standards of Beauty Around the World” par. 1). Traditionally, women care more about their appearance, trying to be attractive for men. In my opinion, men should receive the same level of scrutiny regarding their body image standards as it seems to be studied insufficiently. Perhaps, new investigations would help to understand modern trends in men’s fashion and their beauty perceptions.

Works Cited

Eicher, Joanne Bubolz, et al. The Visible Self: Global Perspectives on Dress, Culture, and Society. 3rd ed., Fairchild Books, 2008.

Johnson, Rebecca. “The body myth.” Vogue, Sep. 1996, pp. 654-658.

“Men’s Standards of Beauty Around the World.” SaintMagazine, 2015, Web.

O’Connor, Maureen. “Is Race Plastic? My Trip Into the ‘Ethnic Plastic Surgery’ Minefield.” The New York Magazine, 2014, Web.

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