Women’s Media Image and Urge for Cosmetic Surgery


The increased access to information through various modern and traditional media platforms has its upsides, but there have emerged many downsides to the constant access to media over the past. One of the downsides includes the pressure on women applied to them by the image that the media has promoted over the years.

Women in different media platforms, including traditional media platforms like televisions, have assumed the culture of promoting the modern woman’s image as a perfect figured woman with a flawless face and has a good sense of fashion.

Social media has intensified the pressure as more women are forced to assume specific images in their photos. This trend has led to the development of a society whose members are actively subscribing to the stereotype that women should be slender with light skins, perfect hair, and enhanced body parts to attain a voluptuous figure. This culture has affected some women’s self-esteem, influencing them to opt for cosmetic surgery procedures in an attempt to look like the image of women promoted by the media.

A decade ago, the cost of cosmetic surgery was extremely high, and the technology available for the same was not as accurate as of the current technology. There have emerged professional cosmetic surgeons with highly equipped facilities for different procedures. As the cost of cosmetic surgery has reduced, more women from the high and middle-income groups of the society can now afford to alter their physical looks. A critical look at the majority of the women who have undertaken cosmetic surgeries reveals particular similarities in the results. Most women undertake cosmetic surgeries to enhance their facial looks and increase or reduce some body parts’ size.

This quest is always inclined toward developing the perfect body shape and facial features promoted by the media. The media has played a major role in influencing the behavior of different people across the world. People are inclined toward emulating the behaviors depicted by various characters shown by the media. The growth in technology has ensured that most people across the world have at least one avenue to access visual information from the mass media. Women have been compelled by the media to assume certain behaviors that are considered appropriate in modern society, as discussed hereafter.

Objectification of Women in the Media

One has to look into the image of the modern woman that is being promoted by the media to understand the reasons behind many women undertaking cosmetic surgeries. Each day the global society is exposed to more than 2000 advertisements on different media platforms. Still, there is a clear indication that in most adverts, women are used to leveraging the interest of the target audiences (Beasley & Denesi, 2013).

It is also apparent that the majority of the advertisements involve women with similar physical appearances, which are characterized by voluptuous bodies and flawless faces. This has led to women’s culture using their bodies as marketing objects and their faces as masks to appeal to the global society. The objectification of women is a concept that the media has sold to global society. Most people in contemporary social platforms do not see any problem with objectifying women. It is even sadder that women are also involved in objectifying their fellow females, but from a critical point of view, which is associated with affirming their appearances.

The objectification of women through the media has led to more women becoming conscious of women’s standards regarding appearances (Adams, 2010). Women are now actively internalizing the perspectives of observers of their respective bodies because the media has made it clear that modern women should assume a specific image. The quest to assume this image has resulted in the need for women to have some of their body parts modified, facilitated by cosmetic surgeries.

Overcoming Restrictions

Different media platforms have assumed the promotion of an image of women characterized by ultimate perfection in physical appearance. To most women, attaining this level of perfection is impossible because of the natural formation of various body parts and medical issues that deform the body. These restrictions have been eliminated by enhancing the capabilities of cosmetic surgeons in rectifying the physical features of women (Riggs, 2012).

The women shown in the media, especially in adverts, are devoid of flaws in their physical looks. Whether they are young or old, their skins are the same regarding texture and tightness, and most women, especially the older women, would love to have such skin. The media appeals to women by revealing that it is possible to attain perfect physical appearances. It promotes the idea that every woman should join the quest to look like the image of women promoted by the media. The media has successfully managed to act on some women’s insecurities to compel them to actively develop the habit of hiding their physical flows through the application of beauty products and employing cosmetic surgery.

The majority of young women who undertake different types of cosmetic surgery are influenced by the notion that they will be happier when they acquire the perfect body. There has been a growing trend of teenagers purchasing cosmetic surgery services, and the main influencer for the same is the image of women that the media has been promoting. Women with flat stomachs, lifted breasts, and curvy bodies are shown on television daily, and many teenage girls are too eager to look like them.

For instance, in 2012, cosmetic surgeons reported that more than 75,000 cosmetic surgery procedures were performed on teenage girls (Zuckerman, 2012). Most of the girls claimed that they wanted to look like specific personalities in the entertainment industry. They claimed to have seen the associated celebrities on social media and mass media.

There is relentless pressure on teenage girls to meet the contemporary world’s beauty standards concerning the image of women portrayed by the media. Psychopathology experts believe that at some point, the desire to conform to the beauty standards that have been virtually developed by the media can lead to teenagers making hasty decisions to alter their looks (Reiman, 2015). The media is responsible for influencing changes in society’s behavior by compelling its members to assume certain beliefs. For instance, when teenagers look at women’s image as presented by the media, they assume that hastening the development of certain body parts through cosmetic surgery would make them more appealing to society.

Symbolic Messages in Advertisements

The media has managed to dismember women by developing advertisements that only focus on some parts of the female body as selling points. The trend has gained momentum in print and video adverts, which has influenced the society to subscribe to the notion that certain parts of the female body should define their physical beauty (Furnham & Levitas, 2012). While the objectifying images of women have led to the development of the idea that parts of the female body should be enhanced or reduced, the media has insisted that the advertisements are only symbolic (Markey & Markey, 2010).

However, there is a clear indication that the symbolic images have influenced women to alter their physical looks because perfect images have become acceptable in society. The affected women believe that the images of women promoted by the media are used as the scale to measure beauty by the rest of society.

The female body’s dismemberment by the media has led to many women viewing their bodies as different parts rather than concentrating on the image of the whole body. This has been revealed on social media platforms, where many young women only take photos of specific parts of their bodies, hoping that other users will approve of their physical appeal based on the scale of the image of the modern woman (Berberick, 2010). While some women have the physical features similar to the image of the women portrayed by the media, many others lack these features, making them lose the self-esteem to past photos with confidence (Davis, 2013). The growing industry of cosmetic surgery targets such as women and the affordability of the associated procedures has led to more women purchasing the services.

Social Media and Physical Perfection

The world has transitioned into a digital age where people are required to create profiles on social media that highlight their personalities and physical appearance. For instance, Facebook and Twitter require users to profile pictures that help other people identify them. There is also a growing trend where people comment on the level of the visual appeal of the profile pictures, and most women use their profile pictures to enhance their self-awareness based on the responses from other users when they post a picture (Wheeler et al., 2011).

It is common to see girls taking pictures of the most appealing body parts and posting them on social media platforms because they believe that other users judge them by their physical appearances. The quest for the best profile picture has seen many women using cosmetic surgery to enhance their looks.

Additionally, social media platforms have also led to an increase in the number of women using various photo editing phone applications and computer software to enhance their look. The mass media in different parts of the world that are fairly Westernized in their cultures has been editing pictures to perfect women’s image in advertisement and presentations. The media has influenced society to view the modern woman as a version of female perfection, and many women want to emulate this image (Hansen, 2011).

The problem arises when the women have to live up to the perfectly edited photos, and cosmetic surgery solves this issue. Cosmetic surgeons have increased their ability to meet the exact specifications of their clients; hence, more women have gained the confidence to undergo procedures to remove wrinkles, change their skin tones, and alter different body parts’ size. This way, they can positively show off the bodies without the need for photo editing.

A study conducted by Klein (2013) revealed that the mass media has a direct role to play in influencing female students in colleges to develop eating disorders. The media has depicted a slender body in women as the most attractive type of body. The persistence on the same has influenced college students to assume bad eating habits to tone their bodies to perfection. While Klein’s study focused on eating disorders caused by the image of women promoted by the media, it is apparent that cosmetic surgery is also one of the options currently available for young girls to enhance their physical appearance. In the past, most cosmetic surgery consumers were rich older women looking to maintain their young looks.

Still, the business’s current players have revealed that both younger and older women are purchasing their services (Slevec & Tiggemann, 2010). Interviews with some of the surgeons have revealed that most of the women use media personalities and celebrities shown on the media as the reference to the types of bodies and facial looks that they desire at the end of the cosmetic surgery.

The Media and the Psychologically Hostile Social Environment

There is no doubt that most of the women who undertake cosmetic surgeries are influenced by their lack of self-esteem to pursue permanent alterations on their bodies. Psychologists have revealed that most women are conscious about their physical flaws, and the level of their self-esteem increases when these flaws are eliminated (Diller, 2011). The media has been involved in direct enhancement of low self-esteem in women because women are fond of comparing their physical appearances with other women around them.

Western nations’ mass media is notorious for employing the most beautiful women to present various shows (Roxby, 2014). For instance, news companies have been known only to employ women with certain types of bodies and a very good sense of fashion.

Seeing that women compare their bodies with those of the women around them, constant exposure to mass media keeps women under constant comparison with the news anchors and other presenters. Additionally, television entertainment has adopted the development of reality shows that involve celebrities and other women who openly confess to having their body parts altered through cosmetic surgery. These women encourage other women to undertake the procedures.

There have also been reality shows that highlight cosmetic surgeries that have gone wrong to show women across the world that the procedures can result in more flaws (Crockett, Pruzinsky & Persing, 2007). However, as if to mock the shows that discourage cosmetic surgeries, new television shows such as Botched tell stories of cosmetic surgeons who fix errors done by other cosmetic surgeons. These shows have created women’s image as mere objects that can be shaped according to their preferences repeatedly.

Following the development of modern women’s image by the media, most women have pursued surgical procedures to rectify the physical appearance of the body parts that they believe are not in line with the appearance of the modern woman. For instance, one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries among women is changing their lips’ size to look more appealing to the rest of society (Swami, 2009). Nose surgeries are also common, especially among celebrities who want to look perfect in videos and movies.

It is also apparent that most of the women working in mass media companies also have flaws. Still, graphics experts in the production process have software that eliminates the flaws to give the public the notion that they are perfect. Young girls idolize these personalities, and they end up believing that the image of women promoted by the media is attainable; thus, they opt for cosmetic surgery.

The Artificial Woman

The media has created an image of the modern woman that is associated with neutrality in cultural aspects. The image of women promoted by the media depicts that the modern woman has a body that is not indigenous to any particular region or race. Many women in modern society do not feel comfortable with their natural looks. For instance, the modern woman’s image is associated with artificial hair and slender bodies with a hint of voluptuousness. Naturally, women from different parts of the world have different physical features that are unique to them. This brings diversity to the type of women in the world regarding physical appearances (Chapman, 2011).

By eliminating these unique features in women, the media has developed an image of a woman associated with artificial body parts. Many young women have subscribed to this notion, and they have been looking to achieve women’s image as the media portray it. Some women will go to extreme cosmetic surgery levels to look like the perfect woman as dictated by the media.

Conclusion

There is a clear indication from the secondary sources reviewed in this paper that the media has played a major role in influencing cosmetic surgery on the part of women. Women are compelled by the perfect image of women portrayed in adverts and television programs to pursue the perfect body’s development. This trend is especially more common among women with low self-esteem. A critical look at the majority of the women that have undertaken cosmetic surgeries reveals that there are particular similarities in the results. Most women undertake cosmetic surgeries to enhance their facial looks and increase or reduce some body parts’ size.

The majority of young women who undertake different types of cosmetic surgery are influenced by the notion that they will be happier when they acquire the perfect body. The media has managed to dismember women by developing advertisements that only focus on some parts of the female body as selling points. The trend has gained momentum in print and video adverts, which has influenced society to subscribe to the notion that certain parts of the female body should define their physical beauty. In the past, most of the consumers of cosmetic surgery were rich older women looking to maintain their young looks. Still, the current players in the business have revealed that both younger and older women are purchasing their services.

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