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We live in a world where complaining about our looks and
bodies have become part of our daily routines.  What does the term “pretty” consider anyway, and
who sets these standards that so many young women strive towards? From a very
young age, Barbie dolls serve as beauty ideals for many girls all over the
world. Long hair, slender figure, small nose and a flawless skin. Aren’t they
just perfect?  As those same girls get to
their teenage years, things only get worse. They become introduced and exposed to
the mainstream media. When women cannot achieve what is being depicted to them
by the media and represented as a “trend” by famous models and celebrities,
they become unsatisfied with their looks and bodies, and start doubting their prettiness
and self-worth. Media and its pressure on young women to look a certain way in
order to fulfill the expectations of today’s society, causes a dissatisfaction
with oneself and can lead to low self-esteem, mental illnesses and eating
disorders.

 

Body dissatisfaction, caused by the strong media influence, often
leads to the obtainment of extensive and unnecessary cosmetic surgeries. A
magazine survey from 2005 showed that out of 2,000 teenagers who participated, 40%
of girls had considered a plastic surgery. However, since 2005, the industry
has grown a lot which means that this number would probably be much higher
today. After the survey the girls said that the pressure for this came mostly
from celebrities. In 2015, According to The American Society of Plastic
Surgeons, nearly 18,000 teens got some form of Botox. Even if you are not
really caught up with what is happening on Instagram and other social media, I
bet in a million dollars that you have heard about the “perfect” Kylie Jenner
lips that so many girls today crave for. What most people do not take in consideration
before deciding that they want a cosmetic or a plastic surgery, is a large risk
of complications and side effects, as well as the risk of disappointment with
the final results.

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Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness that causes obsess
over a physical imperfection. People who suffer from it cannot stop thinking
about the flaws in their appearance and they tend to spend hours looking at
themselves in the mirror. In extreme cases sufferers will refuse to leave the
house and socialize with others because they feel anxious and ashamed. Some
even attempt suicide. In 2015 I went to a camp with my friends and we spent the
whole summer there. A couple days after we came, I met a girl named Sarah who suffered
from a body dysmorphic disorder, and is still going to professional treatments.
She explained to us that every summer she goes to a camp because it keeps her
busy and helps her not think about it as much. She also does not use any type
of social media just because it can act as a trigger for developing it again.

 

Modeling agencies have been blamed for promoting the ideal
body standards that proved damaging not only for the health of their professional
models but to the young women who were obsessed with portraying their role-models.
There are numerous cases of young females being pushed or driven to starvation,
permanent eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia which in ultimate cases
resulted in death.

 

In 2011, the University of Haifa did a study by examining
248 women (ages 12-19) to find out whether the exposure to social media
contributed to eating disorders. The results showed that women who spent a lot
of time on social medias such as Facebook, were more likely to struggle with physical
dissatisfaction and eating disorders.

 

The unrealistic body images are introduced to us at such a
young age and it is not surprising that so many young women start obsessing
over their looks and eventually begin to struggle with their weight. The media,
and our society in general, should stop promoting these impossible standards of
beauty. This is indeed a huge problem in the era we are living in, however, putting
an end to it is not impossible. More companies should start featuring women of
all shapes, sizes and skin colors. More companies should start posting pictures
of models and celebrities that have not been previously airbrushed. More
companies should start focusing on embracing a healthier lifestyle for the sake
of people’s health, instead of making them feel the need to lose weight only as
a condition to become socially accepted.

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