The increased access to information through various modern and traditional media platforms has its upsides, but over the past, there has emerged many downsides to the constant access to media. One of the downsides included the pressure on women that is applied to them by the image that the media has promoted over the years. Women in different media platforms, including the traditional media platform like televisions, have assumed the culture of promoting the image of the modern woman as a perfect figured woman with a flawless face and has a good sense of fashion. Social media has intensified the pressure as more women are forced to assume specific images in their photos.
This trend has led to the development of a society whose members are actively subscribing to the stereotype that women should be slender with light skins, perfect hair, and enhanced body parts to attain a voluptuous figure. This culture has affected the self-esteem of some women, and they have opted to undertake cosmetic surgery procedures in an attempt to look like the image of women promoted by the media.
A decade ago, the cost of cosmetic surgery was extremely high, and the technology that was available for the same was not as accurate as the current technology. There have emerged professional cosmetic surgeons with highly equipped facilities for different procedures. As the cost of cosmetic surgery has reduced, more women from the high and middle income groups of the society can now afford to alter their physical looks. A critical look at the majority of the women that have undertaken cosmetic surgeries reveals that there are particular similarities in the end results. Most women undertake cosmetic surgeries to enhance their facial looks and to increase or reduce the size of some body parts.
This quest is always inclined toward developing the perfect body shape and facial features as promoted by the media. Although the role of the media in influencing the behavior of women in the contemporary society remains relatively understudied, sociologists have conducted studies to highlight some of the behavioral effects of media on different people. This paper looks to highlight the supporting evidence to the opinion that the media has a role to play in the high number of women undertaking cosmetic surgery because of the image of women that has been promoted by the media.
Objectification of Women in the Media
One has to look into the image of the modern woman that is being promoted by the media to understand the reasons behind many women undertaking cosmetic surgeries. Each day the global society is exposed to more than 2000 advertisement on different media platforms, but there is a clear indication that in most adverts, women are used to harnessing the interest of the target audiences (Beasley & Denesi, 2013).
It is also apparent that the majority of the advertisements involve women with similar physical appearances, which are characterized by voluptuous bodies and flawless faces. This has led to the culture of women using their bodies as marketing objects and their faces as masks to appeal to the global society. Through the various forms of media, especially the social media platforms, women have developed the notion that their bodies need to be altered to attain parallelism with the visual appeal of the women shown in the media. In the past, women appreciated their natural bodies because the media had not harnessed the opportunity to objectify women as a strategy for increasing the efficiency of adverts.
The objectification of women through the media has led to more women becoming conscious of the standards required for women regarding appearances (Adams, 2010).
Women are now actively internalizing the perspectives of observers of their respective bodies because the media has made it clear that that modern woman should have specific body features. While some women are not affected by this image, there are a large number of women across the global that have adopted the quest to look like the perfect women they see in the media.
Different media platforms have assumed the promotion of an image of women that is characterized by ultimate perfection in physical appearance. To most women, attaining this level of perfection is not possible because of the natural formation of various body parts and medical issues that deform the body. These restrictions have been eliminated through the enhancement of the capabilities of cosmetic surgeons in rectifying the physical features of women (Riggs, 2012).
The women shown in the media, especially in adverts, are devoid of flaws in their physical looks. Whether they are young or old, their skins are the same regarding texture and tightness, and most women, especially the older women would love to have such a skin. The media acts on the self-esteem of women, and the information provided concerning the availability of cosmetic surgery is welcomed by most women whose low self-esteem is deeply enshrined in their flaws in appearance. The media has successfully managed to act on the insecurities of some women to compel them to actively develop the habit of hiding their physical flows through the application of beauty products and employing cosmetic surgery.
The majority of the young women who undertake different types of cosmetic surgery are influenced by the notion that when they acquire the perfect body, they will be happier. There has been a growing trend of teenagers purchasing cosmetic surgery services, and the main influencer for the same is the image of women that the media has been promoting. Women with flat stomachs, lifted breasts, and curvy bodies are shown on television on a daily basis, and many teenage girls are too eager to look like them.
For instance, in 2012, cosmetic surgeons reported that more than 75,000 procedures on cosmetic surgery were performed on teenage girls (Zuckerman, 2012). Most of the girls claimed that they wanted to look like specific personalities in the entertainment industry. They claimed to have seen the associated celebrities on social media and mass media.
There is a relentless pressure on teenage girls to meet the beauty standards of the contemporary world concerning the image of women portrayed by the media. Psychopathology experts believe that at some point, the desire to conform to the beauty standards that have been virtually developed by the media can lead to teenagers making hasty decisions to alter their looks (Reiman, 2015). The media is responsible for influencing changes in the behavior of the society by compelling its members to assume certain beliefs. For instance, when teenagers look at the image of women as presented by the media, they assume that hastening the development of certain body parts through cosmetic surgery would make them more appealing to the society.
Dismemberment of Women
The media has managed to dismember women through the development of advertisements that only focus on some parts of the female body as selling points. The trend has gained momentum in both print and video adverts, which has influenced the society to subscribe to the notion that certain parts of the female body should define their physical beauty (Furnham & Levitas, 2012). While the dismembered images of women have led to the development of an idea that there are parts of the female body that should be enhanced or reduced, the media has insisted that the advertisements are only symbolic (Markey & Markey, 2010).
However, there is a clear indication that the symbolic images have influenced women to alter their physical looks because the selling of perfect images has become acceptable in the society. The affected women believe that the images of women promoted by the media are used as the scale to measure beauty by the rest of the society.
The dismemberment of the female body by the media has led to many women viewing their bodies as different parts rather than concentrating on the image of the whole body. This has been clearly revealed on social media platforms, where many young women only take photos of specific parts of their bodies with the hope that other users will approve of their physical appeal based on the scale of the image of the modern woman (Berberick, 2010).
While some women have the physical features similar to the image of the women portrayed by the media, there are many others who lack these features, which make them lose the self-esteem to past photos with confidence (Davis, 2013). Such women are targeted by the growing industry of cosmetic surgery, and the affordability of the associated procedures has led to more women purchasing the services.
Social Media and Physical Perfection
The world has transitioned into a digital age where people are required to create profiles on social media that highlight their personalities, as well as physical appearance. For instance, Facebook and Twitter require users to have profile pictures that help other people to identify them. There is also a growing trend where people comment on the level of visual appeal of the profile pictures, and most women use their profile pictures to enhance their self-awareness based on the responses from other users when they post a picture (Wheeler, Said, Prucz, Rodrich, & Mathes, 2011).
It is common to see girls taking pictures of the most appealing body parts and posting them on social media platforms because they believe that other users judge them by their physical appearances. The quest for the best profile picture has seen many women using cosmetic surgery to enhance their looks.
Additionally, social media platforms have also led to an increase in the number of women using various photo editing phone applications and computer software to enhance the way they look. The mass media in different parts of the world that are fairly Westernized in their cultures has been editing pictures to perfect the image of women in advertisement and presentations. The modern woman is seen as a flawless person through the lens of the eye of the media, and this has influenced the modern woman to look into attaining this perfection (Hansen, 2011). The problem arises when the women have to live up to the perfectly edited photos, and cosmetic surgery solves this issue.
Cosmetic surgeons have increased their ability to meet the exact specifications of their clients; hence, more women have gained the confidence to undergo procedures to remove wrinkles, change their skin tones, and alter the size of different body parts. This way, they can positively show off the bodies without the need for photo editing.
A study conducted by Klein (2013) revealed that the mass media has a direct role to play in influencing female students in colleges to develop eating disorders. The media has depicted a slender body in women as the most attractive type of body, and the persistence on the same has influenced college students to assume bad eating habits to tone their bodies to perfection. While Klein’s study focused on eating disorders that have been caused by the image of women promoted by the media, it is apparent that cosmetic surgery is also one of the options that are currently available for young girls to enhance their physical appearance.
In the past, most of the consumers of cosmetic surgery were rich elderly women looking to maintain their young looks, but the current players in the business have revealed that both younger and older women are purchasing their services (Slevec & Tiggemann, 2010). Interviews with some of the surgeons have revealed that the majority of the women use media personalities and celebrities shown on the media as the reference to the types of bodies and facial looks that they desire at the end of the cosmetic surgery.
The Media and the Psychologically Hostile Social Environment
There is no doubt that the majority of the women who undertake cosmetic surgeries are influenced by their lack of self-esteem to pursue permanent alterations on their bodies. Psychologists have revealed that most women are conscious about their physical flaws and the level of their self-esteem increases when these flaws are eliminated (Diller, 2011). The media has been involved in direct enhancement of low self-esteem in women because women are fond of comparing their physical appearances with other women around them. The mass media in the Western nations is notorious for employing the most beautiful women to present various shows (Roxby, 2014). For instance, there are news companies that have been known only to employ women with certain types of bodies and a very good sense of fashion.
Seeing that women compare their bodies with those of the women around them, constant exposure to mass media keeps women under constant comparison with the news anchors and other presenters. Additionally, television entertainment has adopted the development of reality shows that involve celebrities and other women who openly confess to having their body parts altered through cosmetic surgery. These women encourage other women to undertake the procedures. There have also been reality shows that highlight cosmetic surgeries that have gone wrong in an attempt to show women across the world that the procedures can result in more flaws (Crockett, Pruzinsky, & Persing, 2007).
However, as if to mock the shows that discourage cosmetic surgeries, there are new television shows such as Botched that tell stories of cosmetic surgeons who fix errors done by other cosmetic surgeons. These shows have created an image of women as mere objects that can be shaped according to their preferences repeatedly.
Following the development of an image of the modern women by the media, most women have pursued surgical procedures to rectify the physical appearance of the body parts that they believe are not in line with the appearance of the modern woman. For instance, one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries among women is changing the size of their lips to look more appealing to the rest of the society (Swami, 2009).
Nose surgeries are also common, especially among celebrities who want to look perfect in videos and movies. It is also apparent that most of the women working in mass media companies also have flaws, but graphics experts in the production process have software that eliminates the flaws to give the public the notion that they are perfect. Young girls idolize these personalities, and they end up believing that the image of women promoted by the media is attainable; thus, they opt for cosmetic surgery.
Erosion of Diversity
The media has created an image of the modern woman that is associated with neutrality in cultural aspects. The image of women that is promoted by the media depicts that the modern woman has a body that is not indigenous to any particular region or race. For instance, the image of the modern woman is associated with artificial hair, light skin, and slender bodies with a hint of voluptuousness. Naturally, women from different parts of the world have different physical features that are unique to them, and this brings diversity to the type of women in the world, regarding physical appearances (Chapman, 2011).
By eliminating these unique features in women, the media has developed an image of women as similar entities. Many young women have subscribed to this notion, and they have been looking to achieve the image of women as it is portrayed by the media. It is apparent that some women will go to extreme levels of cosmetic surgery to look like the perfect woman as dictated by the media.
There is a clear indication from the secondary sources reviewed in this paper that the media has played a major role in influencing the undertaking of cosmetic surgery on the part of women. Women are compelled by the perfect image of women portrayed in adverts and television programs to pursue the development of the perfect body. This trend is especially more common among women with low self-esteem.
A critical look at the majority of the women that have undertaken cosmetic surgeries reveals that there are particular similarities in the end results. Most women undertake cosmetic surgeries to enhance their facial looks and to increase or reduce the size of some body parts. The majority of the young women who undertake different types of cosmetic surgery are influenced by the notion that when they acquire the perfect body, they will be happier.
The media has managed to dismember women through the development of advertisements that only focus on some parts of the female body as selling points. The trend has gained momentum in both print and video adverts, which has influenced the society to subscribe to the notion that certain parts of the female body should define their physical beauty. In the past, most of the consumers of cosmetic surgery were rich elderly women looking to maintain their young looks, but the current players in the business have revealed that both younger and older women are purchasing their services.
Adams, J. (2010). Motivational narratives and assessments of the body after cosmetic surgery. Qualitative Health Research, 20(6), 755-767.
Beasley, R., & Denesi, M. (2013). Persuasive signs: the semiotics of advertising. New York, NY: Mouton De Gruyter.
Berberick, S. N. (2010). The objectification of women in mass media: Female self-image in misogynist culture. The New York Sociologist, 5(1), 1-13.
Chapman, T. M. (2011). Women in American media: A culture of misperception. Web.
Crockett, R. J., Pruzinsky, T., & Persing, J. A. (2007). The influence of plastic surgery “reality TV” on cosmetic surgery patient expectations and decision making. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 120(1), 316-324.
Davis, K. (2013). Reshaping the female body: The dilemma of cosmetic surgery. London: Routledge.
Diller, V. (2011). Is Photoshop destroying America’s body image? Web.
Furnham, A., & Levitas, J. (2012). Factors that motivate people to undergo cosmetic surgery. Canadian Journal of Cosmetic Surgery, 20(4), 1.
Hansen, D. L. (2011). Exploring social media relationships. On the Horizon, 19(1), 43-51.
Klein, K. M. (2013). Why don’t I look like her? The impact of social media on female body image. Web.
Markey, C. N., & Markey, P. M. (2010). A correlational and experimental examination of reality television viewing and interest in cosmetic surgery. Body Image, 7(2), 165-171.
Reiman, P. (2015). Cosmetic Surgery and Social Media Influence in 2015. Web.
Riggs, L. E. (2012). The globalization of cosmetic surgery: Examining BRIC and beyond. Web.
Roxby, P. (2014). Does social media impact on body image? Web.
Slevec, J., & Tiggemann, M. (2010). Attitudes toward Cosmetic Surgery in Middle‐Aged Women: Body Image, Aging Anxiety, And the Media. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34(1), 65-74.
Swami, V. (2009). Body appreciation, media influence, and weight status predict consideration of cosmetic surgery among female undergraduates. Body Image, 6(4), 315-317.
Wheeler, C. K., Said, H., Prucz, R., Rodrich, R. J., & Mathes, D. W. (2011). Social media in plastic surgery practices: emerging trends in North America. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 31(4), 435-441.
Zuckerman, D. (2012). Teens and Cosmetic Surgery. Web.