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     Volume 5 Issue 101 | June 30, 2006 |

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High Standards, Low Self Esteem

Sarah Mahmud

"The Ego Stroke That Keeps Guys Faithful," and "The Keys to Getting His Forgiveness," are just a few of the titles on the cover and in the contents of a Cosmopolitan magazine. The media can be one of the most powerful forms of brainwashing. Women believe they are compelled to follow the media's definition of what they should be. And they cannot be blamed for it. Everywhere one turns, there are advertisements, commercials, movies, television programmes, and billboards of the fact. Younger women who are at the naïve stages of adolescence are sucked into this frenzy of the media's definition of the "ideal" woman and are striving to be her. How to look, dress, what the latest trend for the next season will be, even how to act are all determined by magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Glamour.

"Men Will Melt," states the slogan in the advertisement for Provocative Woman perfume in Cosmopolitan magazine. It also depicts a very thin model next to these words. The advertisement is blatantly saying, "You can be this stunning too if you wear this perfume. You can be the provocative woman in this picture." Coincidentally, the name of the product just happens to be "Provocative Woman." Quite the positive message for readers!

False imagery is what makes women have a poor self-impression. Images of tall and thin models in advertisements, most of which are digitally enhanced to make them seem "perfect," give people the impression that is who they should to be. "Thin is in." If they have a body type that is otherwise, they are deemed ugly.

Take for example, products like Fair and Lovely. In most Asian societies being whiter is nicer. You've got to be "phorsha" to be foxy and light-skinned to be lovely. Women with lighter skin are considered beautiful. Unlike western countries such as the U.S. where tan skin is regarded as exotic. Different societies have different opinions of what is considered beautiful, but who is society to be the judge of that?

According to Lynette Lamb of New Moon Network, "Real Swimsuits for Real Bodies," an article from <>Jump<> magazine displayed swimsuits for girls with so-called "real" bodies. There were a range of swimsuits that corresponded with a certain body type. Large hips, big breasts, small breasts, what have you. In other words, "Which bathing suit is the one that will best conceal your 'unflattering' feature."

Bangladeshi commercials of food products such as cooking oil, portray women as the typical housewife slaving in the kitchen. Attractive and obedient; Why are men never presented in domestic roles such as these?

The media goes all out to brainwash women, telling them what they should be

The huge impact of celebrities is another factor. "I used to be the fat girl with braces that all the cool kids made fun of in high school," sob stories cause women to think that anything more than 95 pounds is overweight, because that is how their favourite actress seems to look and reinforces the media's portrayal of what women "should" look like. Apace Bulimia and anorexia in women does not strike from the blue. It results from a poor self-image. Women who constantly see the deathly thin bodies of digitally enhanced models believe that is what their bodies should look like as well. Even with the knowledge of digital enhancements, it is hard to reject the media's concept of a flawless body. They are digitally improved for a reason. To sell that idea as "beautiful."

With articles that tell women how to "turn him on", it puts them under the impression that they are the ones who should always cater to men's desires. Times haven't changed that much and he women's movement never happened. It's the modern take on "How to be your man's subservient slave."

Adolescent girls are being spoon-fed by the media about being female and their roles in society. Unfortunately, when we face the reality of it all, the feminist movement hasn't gotten the female species very far. The way women are viewed, not only by their male counterparts, but also how they view themselves hasn't changed much from the past 50 or 60 years. It may have even become worse. As long as the media keeps conveying their idea of being feminine as being submissive and having unrealistically thin bodies there isn't much hope.

The media tactfully uses the element of brainwashing. When constantly being presented with a certain idea, the individual will begin to accept it. It's the Everyone-else-is-doing-it-I-need-to-do-the-same syndrome. The struggle to be the "perfect woman" will never end as long as the media sets outrageously high standards for her. Being that woman is and will always be impossible.

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