In terms of increasing globalization which transports the beauty ideals to different parts of the world the beauty standards coming from fashion and media invalidate women’s natural beauty and frequently disrespect the diversity inherent in women of all shapes, ages and colors (Falkenhagen, 2002). It is natural that the media is the largest contributor to the standards of beauty people develop. Definite media illiteracy and so called blind observance of popular culture and its consumption results in appearance altering at the expense of health and makes contemporary society witness an alarming rate of anorexia and bulimia, plastic surgery promotion. For instance, over three-quarters of the female characters in TV comedies and shows are underweight, heavers acresses receive negative comments from male characters, eighty percent of which are followed with audience laughter. It is in turn bound up with psychological problems of those who consider themselves overweight and suffer from eating disorders for the benefit of beauty standards encouraged in mass media. TV shows create idealized illusions and push a thin beautiful person, selling their products by featuring bone-thin models.
What is known about beauty standards is that they vary a great deal across time and culture. If one compares women body shape and size in the Victorian era with the women ideal body shape of the present day, today’s models obviously look emaciated. Larger body size and skin paleness used to indicate status, while nowadays it is the other way round and tanness is a sign of leisure time. However, beauty has always been quite relative, the sense of human beauty is submerged beneath layers of emotional, rational and social development and the perception of beauty may become different as tastes change.
According to the numerous studies conducted, modern society tends to make negative assumptions about large people and even children experience the negative influence of media, TV shows in particular, on their body appreciation. Due to television shows which provide viewers with lofty ideals of beauty standards, children are misled believing that an ideal body type exists. They are hardly drawn attention to the fact that beauty is more about an outward expression of inner harmony than some idealized physical features which are next to unattainable.
Women’s natural search for a mate makes them keep abreast of what is popular in male environment and the very nature of competition requires them to try to correspond to the media images promoted in the TV shows. The weight standards of the Western pattern are getting increasingly harder to attain, Western cultural images of popular culture changed the way young Oriental girls feel their bodies. The Chinese researchers claim that urban residents of the country who were under the impact of Western TV shows and advertisements weighed less and strove to be thinner. Nigerian media and music also praised slim girls and encouraged more women to diet and exercise.
The Western ideal woman examples tear at women’s self-esteem not only in Africa and Asia and leads to difficulty in having personal boundaries, believing in their own decision-making ability, emotional distance, etc (Falkenhagen, 2002). Beauty becomes a synonym of youth and starvation, the number of real life women who strive for a similar underweight body is epidemic. About seventy-five percent of adolescent girls are dissatisfied with their weight and image. While ninety percent of all cosmetic surgery is performed on women and popular culture bringing forward television shows examines, promotes and benefits plastic surgery. Each girl feels the pressure to improve appearance and the more women watch the more likely they feel anxiety about their bodies. Such TV shows as The Swan play off the well-known children’s tales about Cinderella and popularize appearance changing as well as making it an essential part of mass culture.