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Unrealistic Standards of Beauty for Women in Society Today

Women are constantly bombarded by the media to attain a standard of beauty that is comparable to perfection. This unrealistic standard of beauty is resulting in a number of mental and physical health problems for young girls and women. By: Ashley Armstrong


  1. Feminist theory posits that although there are biological differences between men and women, culture and societal expectations drive gender roles and how they are conceptualized for both sexes. There is extreme pressure for women today to fulfill and maintain standards of beauty set forth by the media and technological and surgical advances. This has created unrealistic standards of beauty for women compared to men, that was conceptualized differently in other time periods and cultures. I chose this topic because it is a growing area of concern for the future, and something that is close to my heart as a woman.
  2. One of the pillars of feminist theory is the work of Margaret Mead and her studies of the New Guinea tribes. She found that gender role expectations varied with each culture. This lends support to the idea that beauty standards for women are socially constructed and differ from that of men.
  3. The following tweets illustrate that the standards of beauty today are reinforced by the media and are unrealistic and unattainable by the majority of women.
  4. Here is an example of the unattainable ideal beauty that women are asked to achieve. This is supermodel Kate Upton, who appears flawless and also is depicted as being perfectly flawless even in extreme weather.
  5. Here is another example of these unrealistic standards. Victoria's Secret promotes the campaign of "Love My Body," yet the women depicted in this campaign are supermodels, and not representative of the typical woman. In contrast, the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign depicts women of all shapes and sizes, fulfilling a more accurate representation of the American woman.
  6. This blog further elaborates on the unrealistic standards of beauty, and how the ideal woman is supposed to have physical features that match the criteria of media figures from J Lo to Beyonce to Michelle Obama, etc. The blogger Rozanne Leigh, also asked 100 men through surveys what they considered true physical beauty and provides the results.
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  8. Within the last couple of years, society has supported the idea of a "thigh gap", which is believed to have originated in 2012 with a Victoria's Secret fashion show. Since then, dangerous diets have been recommended by the media to achieve this thigh gap. This article describes the dangers that achieving such a standard of beauty holds, such as eating disorders. It also names some big name corporations who contributed to the promotion of this standard and later apologized.
  9. In 2015, the mons pubis replaces the thigh gap as the latest level of perfection for women. This standard of beauty is credited to Hannah Davis for her recent bikini cover photo on Sports Illustrated. This article describes women's quest for perfection and the bombardment of what perfection constitutes by the media. It also highlights the new surgery known as monoplasty to remove suprapubic fat and achieve this level of mons pubis perfection.
  10. This article further describes the impact of the recent mons pubis beauty ideal and beauty standard trends for women over the last few decades.
  11. This photo depicts reality start Heidi Montag, who the media started following on the reality series "The Hills," when she was a teenager. This photo illustrates the changes after she underwent 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day.
  12. This article from ABC News further depicts Heidi Montag's transformation through plastic surgery and the physical and psychological scars that resulted, as well as the strain it put on her marriage, as her husband was opposed to the procedures.