Social Media, Body Image & New Power

by B.Matthews on March 19, 2017 - 8:17pm

The article, “Body talks: Manitobans share how they feel about their bodies” written by Shannon Cuciz and published in Global News on March 15th, 2017 addresses citizens from Manitoba discussing their feelings about their bodies. For example, a young woman named, Lara Rae, transgender women and her transition at the age of 51. She states the many pressures that came along with her transition. The article calls attention to the many lifestyle problems Manitobans are going through while sharing any stories they might have had when overcoming any body image issues. According to DoSomething.org, approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. DoSomething.org is a non-profit organization that raises funds to raise awareness towards body image issues. While trying to help overcome any battles that people are trying to get through. According to Kathleen Gabriele, “Stuff seeps in and with social media now, that’s the things that scares me the most because people can be so mean because they’re not right in front of you.” Problems’ concerning body image derives from social media because the pictures or information on social media portrays a certain way of life or body shape that people are ‘supposed’ to look like.  Mass media portrays a look of being perfect that most of us don’t necessarily fit in.  Furthermore, National Online Journalist and Health Global News journalist Carmen Chai published an article called, “Kids as young as 3 call themselves fat, refuse food because of weight gain.” This article addresses, kids aged three to five complaining about gaining too much weight and not being happy with their appearances. The news article calls attention to parents and classmates as the reason why these youngsters are showing a lack of confidence in their bodies and suggesting that media doesn’t help the case either. Children grow up with an ideal body image due to the Disney princesses and or Barbie dolls they play with. According to Dr. Jacqueline Harding, a PACEY advisor and child development expert, “By the age of three or foursome children have already pretty much begun to make up their minds — and even hold strong views — about how bodies should look. There is also research evidence to suggest that some four-year-olds are aware of strategies as to how to lose weight (Carmen Chai, 4).” The article then shifts its attention to social media being the main issue to body image issues.

According to Harvard Business Review, “new power” is defined as an innovative type of power where during a given time limit people are willingly able to contribute donations while making or giving back to a cause. An example of new power would be the hashtag and social media campaign #IMNOANGEL by Lane Bryant. This is a social media campaign that raises awareness to society to redefine the meaning of “true size.” In order to promote positive body image, women of all sizes send in a photograph of themselves while sharing a personal statement of self-confidence attached with the hashtag. This is an example of new power because it allows for it allows for people to come together to raise awareness to positive body image. This campaign was created to illustrate and raise attentiveness towards having positive body image characteristics.

When it comes to raising awareness towards body image the main idea is to create more awareness to the serious issues that come with having negative setbacks. It’s not the easiest thing to talk about with people, so I thought that it may be good to create an app or Facebook page that allows for people to discuss the many body image problems they see with themselves. I did some research on possible anonymous apps linked here however, they app seems to have many flaws. I would suggest that the anonymous app or Facebook page would allow for age groups to be combined together based on their Facebook profile so all information is near accurate. This app would allow for teenagers or anyone using it to willingly share anything they don’t like about their bodies. In addition to, reciting positive tips and tricks concerning body image to help with any problems.

 

Main Source(s):

http://globalnews.ca/news/3310965/body-talks-manitobans-share-how-they-feel-about-their-bodies/

http://globalnews.ca/news/2916494/kids-as-young-as-3-call-themselves-fat-refuse-food-because-of-weight-gain/

Other Source(s):

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-body-image

New Power source(s):

https://mobilisationlab.org/what-new-power-means-for-campaigners/

https://www.bustle.com/articles/74374-lane-bryant-launches-imnoangel-campaign-but-it-might-have-fallen-a-little-short-of-its-goal

https://www.instagram.com/lanebryant/?hl=en

https://twitter.com/hashtag/imnoangel?lang=en

 

Comments

its so sad that women are so unhappy with the way they look due to how models look or women who decide to get plastic surgery that we worship like nicki minaj , cardi b and ect . although there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your body image like losing weight or toning up . sign up for the gym , start eating clean , drink water and eat your veggies & fruits . plastic surgery is just a quick fix , yes it will make you look better and boost your self esteem but there are so many complications you can suffer during and after surgery that shouldn't want to put yourself through and ironically to keep your new shape you got your still need to hit the gym and tone up . we need more self love within ourselves . your beautiful ladies !!!

I find it fascinating to be able to see the participation of medias in the social construct through statistics and facts. The evidence and prove that you bought up makes your point clear and persuasive. The fact, as you have mentioned, 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies shocked me. It is interesting how women are influenced. But I believe that looking at this particular issue through a gender perspective; it would be better to consider both genders. I strongly suggest a study on the effect on masculinity as well. At first sign, the men seem to be beneficial from creating the beauty standards in social medias, and they are the one who put labels on women. However, many men suffer from this social construct as well. The term “policing masculinity” refers to the surveillance that both parents, teachers, social medias and community implements on male to pressure them to perform hegemonic masculinity. Both men and women are doing this monitoring. In fact, both male and female infants act identically. However, the surrounding world classifies them as men and women and force them to think, to play and to react in a certain way. Many men complain that they have not spent much time with their children because the society told them a man should be working, providing and stay away from family issues. Understanding that the social construct is harmful to both men and women is the key to awake both genders to come out with an improvement.

Useful links:
Gendered policing:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_policing
The harm of masculinity on men:
http://www.salon.com/2015/06/12/toxic_masculinity_is_killing_men_the_roo...

You provide excellent insight on the distinction between new power and old power and did a good job of explaining that through your example of people’s collective use of social media.

What struck me though in your post, is the fact that there are so many women who are dissatisfied with their appearance (91% according to your statistics)! It shows that women, in particular, are victims to the powerful influence of the media. Indeed, I find advertisers promote a very narrow ideal of beauty directed towards female consumers that tell them that they will not be desirable to or loved by men unless they are physically perfect. This portrayal of beauty conforms to the male standards and not only lowers self-esteem, but it can also cause self-objectification, depression and eating disorders. This is the by-product of the patriarchy that we live in, a system whereby men control political, economic, social and familial power. And the example of the #IMNOANGEL that you had mentioned is actually part of the larger Feminist movement that fights against it.

Contrary to what the media may say, Feminism is the belief in the political, economic and social equality of all genders. In this case, new power, through the use of social media, has democratized the Feminist movement by granting everyone a voice. It facilitates activism, reaches out to the youth and opens up dialogue about the diversity in each individual’s lived experience. I think it's amazing how new power has helped advance the Feminist cause.

If you want to know how people are responding to sexism in advertising today, check this article out: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketin...

Or if you’d like to learn more about online Feminism, you can consider looking at this: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/how-social-media-changing-the-feminist-movement

This is a very well written article, well done. As traditional media and advertising are often under scrutiny for their effects on young women, it was interesting to also have social media brought into the conversation. The precision of your argument and examples provided to fortify them make for a very compelling article. As you first discuss the misfortunes of a grown transgender woman, your piece hits the reader with the reality of how harsh people could be as it is a strong indicator that we have much further to go before we can be content with the progress feminism has made. It is also so sad to hear of people like the three and five year old children already being unhappy with their bodies due to the relationship that our society has drawn between physical appearance and confidence. Lastly, the outlets you provided for your readers show your dedication to the cause, as education is the first step to change. I am a strong believer in the fact that people must join a movement eagerly and such outlets provide people with the community with which they can have a stable and inclusive environment to discuss issues like such.

A piece of work that may interest you is a documentary called Miss Representation as it is all about women in the media. I think it will interest you as well as load you up with even more evidence for the point you are trying to make.

Your post was very interesting and eye-opening! The use of statistics strengthen your argument and made me realize the gravity of body image problems among women. The fact that three-year-olds are unhappy about their bodies when they should only be focused on developing, learning and growing in a healthy way is shocking.

In order to explain the source of the unhappiness and of the pressures most women feel about their bodies and their weight, the hegemonic model of masculinity within the patriarchal society must be understood. Hegemonic masculinity is the socially constructed model of ideal masculinity that dominates the patriarchal society. According to this model, men have to possess specific characteristics like being strong, stoic, sexually active, powerful, and dominant.

Since this model promotes male dominance, men assume the role of subjects in the patriarchal society. Therefore, women must be objects. They cannot protest against their mistreatment by others and do not have needs of their own. This has very detrimental effects on the treatment of women by men and by the media in our society since as objects, women’s functions are to be acted upon by men and to please men. A woman’s value is measured by her ability to please men, which in turn is accomplished through her physical appearance. However, beauty is narrowly defined by one specific model of an ideal woman that dictates what women should look like in order to please men.

In our patriarchal society, in which men dominate economic, political, social, religious, and familial power, women’s worth is evaluated through their physical appearance by men and other women in all aspects of their lives. They are constantly reminded by their peers, by movies, by advertisements, and from a young age, as you mentioned, by toys like Barbies of the importance of looking like the ideal woman and of how that ideal woman looks. This leads to women placing a tremendous amount of importance on their physical appearance and to severe self-criticism and a negative body image if they are unable to match the ideal woman. Because the ideal model of beauty is of a very small, thin, disproportionate woman that does not reflect the diversity of real women’s body types, it is unrealistic for almost all women to attain it. This explains the widespread unhappiness women feel about their bodies. The pressure of having to match that model in order to consider one’s self worthy of success, love, and happiness is omnipresent, resulting in an inescapable discontent and constant attempt to change one’s appearance.

The #IMNOANGEL campaign is a good step towards loving one’s body. However, I think that in order to eliminate the issue of negative body image and the pressures women face related to their appearance, our society must shift away from women’s roles as objects, which accompany hegemonic masculinity, and consider their physical appearance, no matter the body type, irrelevant to their value as women and as human beings.

If you would like to learn more about hegemonic masculinity, please visit this link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hegemonic_masculinity

Your article is very forward-looking, and pays attention to modern-day issues like the way social media distorts our perception of beauty and places too much importance on physical appearance. Your point about the "new power" initiative was especially innovative. New power is an important way in which people have overturned the way the media has targeted physical insecurities, all the while using the media to do it!
I do think however, that your article is biased toward female perception of the body, and female standards perpetrated by the media. You talk about the children who try to conform to Disney princesses' beauty standards but what about Prince charming? or Ken the barbie doll? This one-sided view on the harmful effects of the media regarding beauty standards fails to acknowledge that men too are affected. The ideal male body type is embodied in characters like Batman or Captain America – a concept that constricts male beauty to stature, strength and symmetrical facial features – and as a result glorifies machoness and muscular builds over any and all other body types. Furthermore, I do think you could have opened the conversation to include that the disconnect between the representation of women in the media and real-life women is much more common than the conversation about men in the media. Women tend to speak more openly about their insecurities for instance in magazines like Cosmo, where advice columns and opinion articles take up the subject of bodies and body shaming often. Whereas men are told that talking about their bodies is "abnormal", it is very rarely a topic which is addressed. Movements you have mentioned like the #IMNOANGEL campaign further bring attention to the impact on women and disregard men. I've come across one study that suggests men are just likely to be discontent with their bodies as women, like Susan Bordo argues in "Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body", this might lead to a rise in male eating disorders.

Here are a few links that could be helpful:
- Adonis Complex
https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Jo-LHyyIy_kC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq...
- Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body by Susan Bordo
https://books.google.ca/bookshl=en&lr=&id=rezqDU30R5wC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=...

Your article is very forward-looking, and pays attention to modern-day issues like the way social media distorts our perception of beauty and places too much importance on physical appearance. Your point about the "new power" initiative was especially innovative. New power is an important way in which people have overturned the way the media has targeted physical insecurities, all the while using the media to do it!
I do think however, that your article is biased toward female perception of the body, and female standards perpetrated by the media. You talk about the children who try to conform to Disney princesses' beauty standards but what about Prince charming? or Ken the barbie doll? This one-sided view on the harmful effects of the media regarding beauty standards fails to acknowledge that men too are affected. The ideal male body type is embodied in characters like Batman or Captain America – a concept that constricts male beauty to stature, strength and symmetrical facial features – and as a result glorifies machoness and muscular builds over any and all other body types. Furthermore, I do think you could have opened the conversation to include that the disconnect between the representation of women in the media and real-life women is much more common than the conversation about men in the media. Women tend to speak more openly about their insecurities for instance in magazines like Cosmo, where advice columns and opinion articles take up the subject of bodies and body shaming often. Whereas men are told that talking about their bodies is "abnormal", it is very rarely a topic which is addressed. Movements you have mentioned like the #IMNOANGEL campaign further bring attention to the impact on women and disregard men. I've come across one study that suggests men are just likely to be discontent with their bodies as women, like Susan Bordo argues in "Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body", this might lead to a rise in male eating disorders.

Here are a few links that could be helpful:
- Adonis Complex
https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Jo-LHyyIy_kC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq...
- Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body by Susan Bordo
https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=rezqDU30R5wC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq...

I found your article very interesting and well structured. I agree that this is a very serious issue among women which should be addressed, but let’s not forget that men struggle with these issues as well. It is called the “Adonis” figure. Adonis is a term used to describe the ideal image of male beauty. That would be tall, muscular, straight, with a full head of hair and long legs. Just like women, men are expected to live up to these impossible standards. This struggle is different for men however, and less addressed in the media when speaking in terms of one being unhappy with their body because men generally have more avenues to power than females, beautiful or not. This correlates with the idea of hegemonic masculinity which promotes male dominance over women. Due to the fact that we still live in a very patriarchal society today the media, such as movies, TV shows, toys, social sites etc., not only promotes small, waifish, and submissive looking women but also big, strong, and tall men such as Chris Evans, Hugh Jackman, or Dwayne Johnson, also known as “The Rock” to reinforce this idea of patriarchy and hegemonic masculinity. Young boys and men watch these influential figures in movies, television shows and feel pressured to conform to the “man box” and live up to these standards as well. Here is a link to an article which further explains men and their body image anxiety due to media:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/11822364/Are-action-figures-giving...

About the author

I'm Brianne, this is my final semester at Champlain College and I am currently studying social science: education option. On my past time, I enjoy learning musical instruments, and practicing the ones that I currently study.