Human behaviors and the dominant habits to a greater extent are products of the reigning culture. They are bound to change with time in accordance with the prevalent environment and the factors that are considered crucial. Body images have not bee left behind and the idea of the ideal body shape has been changing from time to time. A look across the various ages since the turn of the 20th century indicate the notion of beauty has been popularly determined and the public especially women have been striving to conform to the idolized image.
Each and every culture and society has its own idea of beauty which is bound to change with time. Traditional societies idealized with huge men with pot bellies as a sign of wealth and influence, well endowed women with ample bosoms and huge backside were seen as appropriately structured to sire children. This has changed overtime and today’s ideal body shapes are nothing compared with the traditional definition of beauty. Notably though is how both women and men strive to conform to the set images even to an extent of adopting unhealthy eating habits and dangerous lifestyles.
This paper sets to speculate on the reasons behind the current obsession with beauty in America with a specific focus on the influence by the media, family and peers. One of the major reasons for the present Americans obsession with beauty is the urge to conform to the images being idolized by the media. Media stereotypes of beautiful bodies are being held as the truth and men and women are struggling to conform to the said images. Media is imposing its own idea of beauty and the traditionally held perceptions of beauty are being shed with each passing day.
It is important to point out that media exerts insurmountable influence on how people live. There exist a number of socializing agents and the media has been observed today to have the largest following and influences on lifestyles. The issue of media influence on lifestyles and dictates on tastes and preferences has been widely tackled by researchers. Media is seen as one of the key culprit behind the spread of drugs, casual sex and violence amongst the teenagers due to airing of programs that tend to glorify such practices.
Recently added to the list is the influence on the eating habits of the audience. One way through which the media achieves this is by exerting “some influence primarily through peer group opinion leaders. ” (Curran 133) Opinion leaders are people regarded to have authority in a particular subject. A nutritionist may give credence to a certain eating habit terming it as the perfect way to lose weight and live healthily.
A beautician may spell out the definition of the perfect body image influencing millions of viewers to change their body images to conform to that ideal definition (Wykes & Gunter 159) The media has overtaken all other institutions as the sole authority that defines beauty and fashion trends. The popular view of fashion and beauty is inculcated into the audience. A look at most teenagers for example today indicates that their role models are the key prominent individuals that frequent news and television programs.