Why are women constantly being spoken to about their bodies?
Women in modern culture are being delivered mixed messages about weight and dieting. On the one hand, they’re told that dieting is healthy and attractive. On the other, they’re being told that big is beautiful. Our capitalist environment seemingly cannot decide on a clear, consistent message to women. The solution: take the focus off women’s bodies, even if attempting to deliver a positive message – people are only hurting their daughters and themselves.
Eating disorders and obesity are both at an all-time high in America. In the meantime, the women’s media industry (magazines, talk shows, etc.) is obsessed with telling women, simultaneously, how beautiful they are and how great dieting is. What we have missed is that, no matter what the subject of the conversation, the conversation is somehow always about women’s appearances and bodies. Society, perhaps on a road paved with good intentions, is giving a clear message: fat or thin, the focus is still on how you look! Our supposedly liberated, enlightened conversation somehow continues to keep women’s bodies under a microscope, as a commodity for society’s critique.
This obsession, being broadcast to young girls 24/7 on television and computer screens, is simply continuing a chauvinistic, male-dominated pattern of behavior that has been around for centuries, albeit in a much more subtle way.
Soap and makeup commercials – in a reaction to a societal outcry about unrealistic depictions of women in the media and a fixation on skinniness – tell women that they are beautiful regardless of weight or skin color. Yet, the positive body image movement is simply a continued fascination with women’s appearance and not their mental, spiritual and bodily well being. What society should really be busy with is shifting the focus from women’s outward appearance to their capabilities, intelligence, education and role in society. Women in America still have many long roads ahead of them in regards to issues like wage equality and abortion issues. These have absolutely nothing to do with outward appearances and or beauty.
America should want its daughters to spend less time fretting in front of the mirror and more time with teachers, friends, coaches and books. Weight and physical appearance should be only one of a wide array of topics for discussion, not the sole or main one.
As a society, America should let go of its obsession with “body talk” and green juices. If American media ends its promotion of anorexic-looking models, there will be no female body image issues to talk about in the first place. Instead, let’s focus on building girls’ self confidence based on other, less-tangible attributes.