One of the most crucial aspects in the lives of all humans, is their individuality, beauty, and appearance. This is particularly an important issue among the females as they try to stay beautiful to attract their male counterpart. The media plays a great role in spreading information and the perception of body image and beauty in all societies. This paper will look into the role played by the media in facilitating the creation of different perceptions of body image especially from the Western countries as well as their consequences in the same regions. In addition, the question of beauty standards held by Western and Asian counties will be addressed. Finally, the influence of the media in Singapore will be discussed in the pap
Body image can be described as an individual’s perception of their own appearance and attractiveness. Some people have a positive perception of themselves while others have a negative attitude on the same. The negative perception of a person’s body image is created in the case that there is a discrepancy in aspects such as body weight, size, color, or shape. For many people, this impression is created based on what other people say about them and not what they think about themselves. As such, the external opinions made by other people is very important in shaping the body image of an individual. In the recent years, the world has undergone globalization which has affected many sociocultural aspects of the people living in different countries. The media has become a gateway that propagates some very profound attitudes and beliefs regarding beauty ideals and body image all over the world. This paper aims at illustrating the impact that the media, particularly that of the Western countries, has had on the perception of body image in Asian countries such as Japan, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and Fiji ( Adams et. al., 2005). For this matter, the Western nations have become privy to what is happening in the sense of beauty standards among the men and women of Asia. A case in a study will be taken on the country Singapore which has seen an increased rate of people with body image disorders (Mascarelli, 2014).
Western Beauty Standards
In the Western society, there are strong ideals that are held regarding body image as well as beauty standards. This is especially more critical an issue to the females, as they are more self-conscious and expected to meet certain standards of female beauty. In the external appearance, one main perception that is held regarding females is that a thin and curvaceous body is considered to be beautiful, which to some extent is unnatural. In this society, a woman who has a small waist is highly admired and considered beautiful especially among the young people. For this reason, many females take these extremely seriously and they try hard to maintain a lean body mass to the extent of observing a strict diet and even missing some meals. This approach has led to some serious consequences to some women as they have become malnourished and underweight in pursuit of an unrealistic slim body size. In the sociocultural concept, fertility in women is also considered as a desirable beauty ideal. As such, women had issues with this ideal become vulnerable to acquiring body image disorders whereby they have a negative perception of themselves.
In the West, Women are mostly associated with body image disorder as compared to their male counterparts (Adams et al., 2005). Reports from various psychologists have shown that about 90% of girls and women are unsatisfied with at least one feature in their bodies to which they would be willing to change if given the chance. Many teenage girls, as well as women in their twenties, have developed body image disorders in light of the negative thoughts that they hold on their bodies.
In the recent years, men have increasingly become aware of beauty standards which have seen more men putting more effort to become fit. The men, unlike women who achieve their beauty by observing diets, do this by exercising in the gym to develop well-formed muscles and body shape. In the recent years, quite a number of the men have developed the body image disorder. This is not a common observation, unlike the females, only because men do not disclose the dissatisfaction with their bodies since they feel that it is a female-linked disorder (Adams et. al., 2005). Such men rather suffer in silence than to come out clean about the issue. This behavior in men is unsafe as it causes them to develop low self-esteem, depression, and other health complications.
Asian Beauty Standards
The Asian continent has for a long time been deluged with strong perceptions regarding beauty and body image. In Asia, there are traditional standards for beauty which were adopted since the ancient time and they were mainly feminine based. Women were regarded as beautiful if they had a good personality and were gentle. The external appearance did not matter much during the past in that society, a fact which has gradually changed. Nowadays, the external appearance has become an important feature in defining the beauty of a woman in Asia. Some ideals of beauty for women which are constantly becoming more significant today in the continent include, the body size, the size of the eyes whereby bigger eyes are considered beautiful, the texture of the skin, and the shape of the face among others (Cummings & Lehman, 2008). In light of this, many relationships and interactions are prompted by the level of beauty that an individual is perceived to have.
The importance of the physical appearance for women has also been propagated by new technology and the media. For instance, there is a newly launched mobile application which enables the users to alter their physical appearance on photos. Some of the changes that can be made by the application include smoothening of the skin, enlarging of the eyes, and adding make up among others (Xu et. al., 2010). This application has since become very common among the young women in Asia as it helps them enhance their beauty to be more attractive. Women also tend to use different types of skin products to improve the skin tones. Women go to these lengths of ensuring they are beautiful since there is a pressure that is exerted by the society which expects them to get married at an early age (Xu et.al., 2010).
The Western Media
As noted earlier in this paper, the media has played a significant role in influencing the perceptions of body image especially among young people (Mascarelli, 2014). The adolescents are the most affected group due to the propagations by the media. Today, this has been catapulted with the outburst of the social media which has become a daily life activity for almost all people who constantly share various concepts in life. Add to this, different socio-cultural practices are shared and learned through various media forms such as radio, television, print media, the internet, and billboards. The western countries are regarded as trendsetters since they are more developed and exposed as compared to other countries in other regions like Asia. Part of the reason that the mass media is very powerful in propagating these ideals is that it is considered as the most reliable source of information and acts the spokesmen of the society.
According to the media perceptions, the ideal beauty in women is portrayed in models who verily have thin body figures and are mostly tall. On the other hand, the ideal body image for men is certainly displayed as having muscular and fit bodies. Such perceptions have become deeply engraved into the minds of the viewers and they believe that these stereotypes are the only standards that define beauty. Other elements that have been propagated in a negative light by the media include aging whereby old age is regarded as being unattractive.
Consequences of Western Media
Verily, the Western society is more advanced in terms of civilization, cultural and living standards. For this reason, the region is a huge influencer to the less developed counterpart countries surrounding it. As such, the globalization of culture is highly propagated by the media especially from the Western countries. Some of the western trademarks and cultures that have been successfully integrated into other parts of the world include fashion, rock music, beauty standards, and the use of consumer products like Coca-Cola among others. Many films and television programs from the West have also become widely viewed and this is a major gateway whereby the culture is transferred. Researchers have described this as cultural imperialism which has had both positive and negative effects (Arbour et.al., 2009).
Some of the notable consequences that the Western media has had on other countries is that it has spread its social and economic ideas which have led to the civilization and industrialization of other countries. Also, exchange of the Western culture, studies, anthropology, and sociology has also become possible through the media. Some punitive cultures in other nations have been shunned with the display of more civilized lifestyles portrayed by the Western media.
The western media’s constant illustration of body image and beauty standards has some detrimental and irreversible consequences in the not only the Western society but also in adjacent regions like Asia. Over the years, the image of women has been tarnished as they are mostly portrayed as sexual objects whereby half-naked women are used in advertising various products (Baird & Grieve, 2006). This is also coupled with creating the false impression that having thin bodies is the ideal beauty for women. For men, having a muscular body has been defined as their ideal beauty standard. As such, some men and women who fail to meet this requirement have developed body image disorders which have negative effects on their health and esteem. Women in a bid to maintain thin bodies have become malnourished which has negative effects on their bodies. Also, some men have resulted in using steroids to build their muscles which in the end has left them with health complications.
Impact Of Media Influence In Singapore
Singapore is a country in Asia which has achieved tremendous developments in the recent years. In a recent interview, the Prime Minister for Singapore disclosed that the country’s living standards had improved very much and they were almost at the same level as the Western nations (Baghurst et al., 2006). This great achievement was reached with the many years of hard work and influence gained from the developed countries in the west. Also, more of the citizens have acquired Western education which has enabled them to work in different regions on more white-collar jobs. The media has particularly contributed to the spread of this knowledge among the public in the country hence more citizens following suite.
On the contrary, there are negative effects that the western media has had in Singapore. To begin with, many of the citizens have abandoned their traditional practices as they embrace more Westernized cultures. Take for instance, for body image matters, many men in the country have adopted the western standards for beauty as their own ideal criteria. The previous norm of categorizing submissive women as the ideal beauty has changed as more women have become independent and more educated like their Western compliments.
The social media has brought in a significant effect in the country. In a recent global survey that was conducted, Singapore was ranked to have one of the most active social media usages in the world. As such, a majority of the youth in the country are hooked to this platform which has many undesirable consequences on them. To begin with, the addicts of social media in the country have become less productive and reduced only to mere ‘couch potatoes’ who sit around their house all day chatting on the sites. This has led to obesity and depression of many youths as well as other health complications linked to lack physical exercises (Mercille, 2005). With the western standards of beauty and body image being propagated through the social media, many youths in the country have become emotionally distressed as they try to acquire this.
The mass media has been widely described as a reflection of the society and it has undoubtedly played a role in influencing the behaviors and cultures of the same. As identified above, the Western media, in particular, has been very influential to her neighboring countries mostly in Asia. This has had both positive and negative consequences. In Singapore, there has been a substantive growth in the economy due to Western influence. Many citizens have also acquired education which has led to improved living standards. All the same, the social media usage in the country is at high levels which need to be controlled to save the future generation in the country.
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