By Saumyaa Gupta and Natalie Livensparger
For centuries, girls have been expected to look perfect. Now more than ever there is pressure on girls since there's more entertainment from television and social media. Currently, the media portrays girls to be perfectly manicured, skinny, and have flawless skin. This teaches young women to believe they are less than others because of the novish beauty standards portrayed through the media.
When growing up everything seen influences one's thoughts, for better or for worse. Chloe Berry, an African American student at GHS talks about how the television made her feel, Berry says, “When I was young I was insecure about my skin complexion… It wasn't common to have women of color on TV or depicted as beautiful. If I saw women of color being depicted positively I would have felt better… if more young black girls saw themselves on TV as educated and beautiful they would feel beautiful as well”. This happens a lot in TV shows, characters of color don’t often play prominent roles on television or when they do, a lot of the times they are depicted badly or as lower class. Race doesn’t play a role in class but this is often a stereotype that TV shows and movies portray. Layla Flores who is another student at GHS, talks about how women are portrayed in general. Flores says “...most things you see on TV are white skinny girls… also, most stuff is edited so it is not showing the true beauty in women at all”. This is what girls are raised seeing, it gets burned into their brain and then they grow up and think they are not enough. This belief causes body image issues to come into play.
Additionally, magazines, and cosmetic companies advertise their products with girls that have little to no visible flaws. Young girls are discouraging themselves because they want what celebrities have, like perfect skin or a certain body type. Not only that, celebrities are getting plastic surgery to enhance features and these celebrities are ones that little girls look up to as role models. Kayla Brown, another student from GHS talks about how her role model was Nicki Minaj and how she wanted to be just like her. She says “...she’s got an hourglass body and I thought I needed that. All the guys in her videos were praising her body and I wanted that”. What young girls are seeing online or on TV shows is not natural, however we are told that it is what’s beautiful.
The reason why companies don’t cast diversity is that they believe it's what the people want to see. Often they will cast that one person who is different from the others and that’s known as the exception. This person is normally someone who is either overweight or a different race but rarely ever is a leading role. Companies don’t think that if they cast a diverse group of people that they will get the fame they seek but in reality that’s exactly what people want to see.
Although the portrayal of natural body types and looks isn’t generally shown often, recently more companies have been changing things to accommodate differences. Companies like Dove, are showing real girls, ones of different sizes, and races, that’s what the majority of people want to see. A very popular TV show called This Is Us casted people who were overweight and with different races and backgrounds and showed the struggles they go through. This gained popularity because it represented a larger number of viewers. If this were how most things were done then there wouldn’t be the problems there are today regarding body image.
The pressure that’s put on girls from social media, television and other forms of entertainment is exhausting. The expectation of being skinny with a curvy figure or having flawless skin is telling young girls that if they don’t have these features, they are not good enough, but these expectations, for most, are impossible to achieve. Everyone is different but those differences do not make them any less perfect, companies need to start portraying the average girl.