More than a body

Julianna Musser, Op-ed Editor

Sex sells. If you are someone who actively uses any form of social media, it is not uncommon to see that it has created warped and exaggerated expectations related to people’s perceptions of sex and body expectations. It affects the way people perceive how bodies should look, act, feel, and even smell.
Specifically, this issue targets women. Women are constantly forced to fit into a stereotype that is ideal for a man. This concept has skyrocketed in the media over the last decade and is not going unnoticed by the public eye.
As women, we are constantly silenced by others and forced to stay quiet about our feelings. We have to hide behind these personas
being created for us. It is detrimental not only to our mental health but also to our physical health and how we treat our bodies.
Being a teenager and having access to everything offered on the internet, I have come across my fair share of advertisements solely focused on sexualizing and degrading women.
Brands such as Victoria’s Secret focus on sexualizing normal aspects of womanhood in order to make millions in profits. Every model has to fit an unrealistic standard of being well-endowed, having small thighs, a thin waist, long hair, and clear skin in order to be hired. Without these attributes, you’re seen as nothing greater than a below-average woman. These types of ideas then start to bleed into the male perception of women around them.
“It affects how men feel about very real women in their lives,” Jean Kilbourne, a women’s rights activist, stated.
These ideas teach both women and men that they are nothing more than the flesh on their bodies and that said flesh has to be perfect.
Different ads in media use repetition within their promotional and marketing strategies in order to convince their audience that what they are promoting, is normalized. If the concept of women being sexual objects is constantly displayed on billboards, in videos, and in all of today’s media, many are going to consider them as “normal”.
There are dangerous people out in the world, such as Andrew Tate, who perpetuate these ideas. Tate is a media influencer that promotes the idea of women being the equivalent of a man’s property. These types of people are working their way into the brains of young people, especially young men, to try and shape how they feel about the people around them.
“Life as a man is far more difficult than life as a woman,” Tate stated.
Getting this information in small doses can have very long-lasting impacts on today’s generation and is something that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.
Another issue is the more oppressive side in which body image issues can affect women of color differently and more strongly than white women.
“…the image is impossible for everyone, but more particularly for women of color, who are considered beautiful only insofar as they resemble the white ideal,” Kilbourne said.
This is seen in so many different aspects of society, even in everyday life.
“Our society has put an emphasis on whiteness being the epitome of beauty, so much so that black girls and boys have grown up in a world that has constantly told them they are not beautiful,” Hope Moses, the Editor of Diversity and Inclusion at The Wire, said.
People of color regularly face discrimination in various communities, whether it be sexism, racism, or a combination of both.
The media has many ways of turning real people into body-conscious, self-loathing beings. They are told to sexualize themselves, but not too much; to shave every inch of their body; to grow out their long and flowing locks of hair to look exactly like the models they see on television; to get a nice tan, but not too dark where they are “blackfishing”.
This has been such a large factor in our culture for as long as the media has been around. While it is normalized and continuously affecting women, there needs to be some sort of ending in sight.