Body Image

Where do the women who do not fit the “ideal” fit in? Women are constantly bombarded with images and representations of women that are beautiful (as society defines it at least) and have “ideal” bodies. So, when women work toward changing their bodies, is it really for better health, as one could argue, or because they are trying to reach an ideal? Sure obesity is associated with health concerns such as heart disease but what about women that may not be as attractive as other women? It’s not a sickness to not be good looking. Then, the question is, if women try to change themselves, are they doing it for the right reasons? Advertisements on weight loss programs such as Herbal Magic and Jenny Craig constantly remind women that they need to be changed. A study conducted by a non-profit group called Representations of Women in the Media (aka “Reps”) look into how Facebook advertisements are constantly aimed towards weight loss. Not only that, but they portray weight loss as an “ideal” that is already attained by celebrities and models. Is the constant reminder that some women do not have the “ideal” body enough to break them? Women not being happy about themselves is something that the media does have a huge impact on. This leads to disorders such as bulimia, which highly affects teenage girls. The reason why teenage girls do feel the pressure of weight loss and the “deal” image is because it is foreseen all over the media. Once these girls go back to school they want to fit in, we all know teenagers are followers and will want to be a representation of the females they see in the media. If a teenage were not to fit in, or did not want to follow the rules of the “ideal” girl this leads to bullying. Which is another whole issue in today’s society. Women need to realize beauty is not only what we seen on the outside, but the inside.


Crooked Smile

J. Cole’s song Crooked smile is a very popular song in today’s society. He is singing about a female who wakes up every morning to apply makeup etc make sure she looks the best she can before leaving the house. This is something that many women go through each and every day (including us personally as well). You know those days when you don’t have time to get ready and it’s on your own mind? Yeah, we can’t be the only ones. The song can be related to the oppositional gaze, J.Cole is looking at this female and does not understand why she is going through that everyday. He implies that women are beautiful naturally. “No need to fix what God already put his paint brush on” by this lyric he’s implying that she’s trying to cover her features, but her natural is what her beauty really is, she’s good enough doesn’t need to change herself. The male oppositional gaze is that women do not need to change themselves. However females will disagree because social media implies different thing to females. As in we need to look like models that we see on television, posters, ads etc because that is the “ideal” way in which one should look. “Now is it real? Eyebrows, fingernails, hair. Is it real? If it’s not, girl you don’t care”. In this lyric J.Cole’s message is that it does not matter to him if her nails, hair etc is real or not, therefore it should not matter to the female either. What should matter is what is on the inside. So maybe men aren’t always wrong?! If one man can hold this view, there has to be others. The message of this song is something that is not told to women enough. So next time you get ready, blast this song and know that beauty lies within you.


Now why couldn’t all YouTube beauty gurus be like her? Maybe there’s more to makeup then we realize. She considers red lipsticks as a bold statement and dominating but really red lipstick is found to be attractive by men because it makes your lips look closer to how they do when you have an orgasm. (Just on a side note), when a woman has an orgasm her face tends to become red as the blood is rushing through her body. This is how some psychologists compare it to women applying makeup such as red blush or red lipstick. Women who wear makeup attract more males because they look like they are having an orgasm due to the makeup. Given this, can makeup be used as a weapon against men and patriarchy? Can it be used to express oneself? Sure, but the question is how many women actually see it this way? The girl in this video obviously does but how many women share her opinion? To most girls, makeup is a means to an end, and that end is being beautiful. When putting on red lipstick, we personally don’t exactly think that it’s a weapon against men. On the other hand women do not share this view believe that makeup enhances their natural look. This video is a feminist approach to applying makeup. Who knew this was even possible? The female in the video uses makeup to express herself in different way than most girls do using makeup. Makeup can be more than a cover up ladies! Use it to express yourself, to make a statement or simply for fun. Regardless of the psychological explanation for why men prefer certain makeup, makeup does not always have to be done to impress someone. Personally, the best part of going out for us is getting ready (and taking selfies, of course). Stop taking the fun out of makeup and use it to your advantage. Covering up with makeup is never seen in a positive light but you can use it to enhance your look. Give this video a watch and be sure to take this into consideration the next time you get ready!

“Angel” butt workout

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It’s clear that beauty is an unrealistic expectation. But what about our bodies? Where do women get their ideas about what their body should look like? Well…media has a big influence. We’ve talked about Victoria Secret models and how they distort women’s ideal of beauty. Now let’s take a look at their body. Shimmering lotions, using bronzing products to “countour” their figures, excessive diets and exercising. We’re sure there is more to it that that. If you go on YouTube and type in “Victoria Secret”, the first search suggestion that pops us is “Victoria Secret workouts” (because the only thing significant about VS models is their bodies right?…) Below that, there is numerous workouts on how to get a “bombshell”, or “angel” (words that are used to describe VS models) butt, abs, or legs. Take a look at this: An “angel” butt workout? Does that sound as ridiculous to you as it did to us? The fact that VS models actually have workouts named after them is a clear sign that it is held as an ideal that other women try to attain. Further, the numerous videos posted on YouTube are easily accessible to the public. This means there is no guarantee that a 10-year-old girl who may be on YouTube will not see this. No wonder women have self-esteem issues regarding their bodies. Women watching these videos don’t realize that the BMI of these Victoria Secret models are lower than the healthy women that is recommended by doctors. Each woman’s body is different than other women meaning that the “right” or “healthy” weight varies from woman to woman. Social media implies that all women need to be thin however for some body types women are not able to reach the goal of Victoria Secret models body shapes. For example, African American women tend to have thicker body shapes. Sarah Baartman is prime example of a woman who did not look like the other women in Europe; therefore she was displayed as an object. If uniqueness is valued in other aspects of one’s personality, why wouldn’t this be the case for body types? This demonstrates how women are unique and trying to become a representation of someone else, which means they will always be incomplete. They are neither able to reach their ideal nor be themselves. Hanging in the middle between the two, women always push to reach the “ideal” than be their unique selves.


Everyday look

Women are constantly trying to reach the “ideal” of beauty. The extent to which women go to meet unrealistic expectations is beyond us. This is why the makeup industry is booming… Right now I have over 600 points in my Sephora account. That means I’ve spent over 600 DOLLARS on makeup in the past YEAR. Unreal right? The video attached to this post shows the amount of time and money women spend to look like the women that are portrayed in the media.

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Notice how the tutorial is meant for an “everyday” look. Half an hour to paint our faces to look like an “enhanced” and almost fake versions of ourselves. This is what women, especially adolescent women, go through before stepping out of their house. Women are trying to represent themselves to be someone we see in the media, mostly through what is foreseen in social networks. By constructing, presenting and perceiving themselves like women in the media we are trying to reach the unreachable goal. The women in these ads only look as good as they do because is it an unreachable look, something that is only attainable after hours of work done on photoshop. Women need to understand that we can never look as women do in magazines and other social networks. By trying to live up to the ideals presented in media and Hollywood, we will never become a complete representation of them but remain an incomplete representation of ourselves. Maybe true beauty is what is “real” what is “reachable” what is “realistic”, which would be everyday women like you and I. In the video the female talks about her acne and how to cover it up using foundation. This demonstrates how things that are natural are foreseen as imperfections. “Normal” and “natural” are things that are suppose to use as representation of us. However, in today’s society it is rare you will see a women who is complete all natural. Mostly all women apply some sort of makeup or dye their hair everyday of their lives. Yet, these women are still not satisfied with their beauty and bodies. What is the perfect women? What are the goals women try to reach? These vary from female to female. There are many different types of females in society. For example the image of the “ideal” women for some individuals may be Beyonce who is known for her curves and for others it may be someone like Candice Swanepoel who is very thin and does not have many curves. This shows that there is not one “ideal” but many varying across women.


pHow men see women

In today’s society Victoria Secret models are the “ideal” image to portray. Known as the bombshells many adolescent females want to be just like them and men want a woman who represents their image. How is this even possible? The female gaze while watching Victoria Secret runway shows or seeing these models on ads is that these models are perfect and as a female we should change our bodies to be just like them. The female gaze entails either criticizing these models based on how they look or idealizing them as where women themselves want to me. We don’t even need to state which one is more likely. The male gaze, on the other side, of these models is that they are viewed as “sexual”. We know they are selling lingerie but why should the words “bombshell” and VS “angels” be used to describe them? Also, Victoria Secret could add more realistic models that are thicker and women of more races. Canada, Toronto more specifically, is a multicultural society. How do the women of other races feel about the face of VS being a white model? To be fair, they do have some women who are black and Asian however most of the models are white. Did they forget about the Caribbean and South Asian population? This could explain why bleaching one’s hair or wearing coloured contacts is such a big phenomenon. The main Victoria Secret model is Candice Swanepoel; being a white, blonde haired, blue eyed female, it’s clear why she has dominated over the other models. Why is she the face of Victoria Secret models? Is she the ideal of beauty? As we all know that Victoria Secret needs attractive females to do well at selling their product. This isn’t something that is unique to Victoria Secret as this is just a marketing strategy used to sell products by a variety of companies. However, some can argue that the “normal” or “realistic” image of a female is one not like a VS model. All Victoria Secret models are thin with long hair and are always wearing makeup. The picture of these VS models shows how unrealistic it is to achieve the goal of being like these models, as these images are always photoshoped. These representations of VS models are what women use to construct the reality of what is “beautiful”. But, of course these representations are always incomplete because VS models don’t look like that in reality. This means that women are trying to reach an ideal that doesn’t even exist. So then, what is it exactly that women are working toward? A photoshopped image of a model? The female gaze doesn’t always take into count the technology that is used to “enhance” the bodies of these females. This is what makes the standards unreachable, yet females always strive for perfection.



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This video really goes to show why the ideals of women’s bodies and beauty are unrealistic. Blonde hair, fair skin, big blue eyes and of course, a face full of makeup that is furthered enhanced. So the “ideal” of beauty and body image is a white girl (who is actually further lightened with the use of photoshop for whatever reason), hair extensions and a contoured face. As if 10 pounds of makeup and blonde hair extensions wasn’t enough, the model is further enhanced through digital technology to distort the reality to a whole new level. How exactly are woman suppose to reach this ideal in reality? More importantly, what women compare themselves to doesn’t even exist in reality. So why is it that these representations construct and perceive our reality? The end of the video is what was the most astonishing to us as we see a comparison of the “two” women. We can’t even see it was the same woman by the end of the video. That is, because that woman does not exist. Women who are trying to “better” themselves and become the ideal women will never reach that goal and will be an incomplete representation of the female she is trying to become. It is unreasonable to expect that every normal woman has a number of professionals constantly working on her appearance so how can society expect women to look like that? Needless to say, this leads to self-esteem issues, as women do not see themselves as being as attractive as women portrayed in the media. Then, of course, self-esteem issues are followed by unhealthy means to attaining that ideal such as excessive dieting, binge eating, and exercising. It becomes clear that the distortion of beauty and body types portrayed in the media leads to a spiral of downward effects on women. Self-esteem issues, unhealthy body management, and eating disorders would only be a few of them. What it comes down to is that women struggle to obtain the “ideal” because it doesn’t exist. If only more women could realize that, as a society, women could be liberated from the pressure of looking a certain way.