Essay on Societal Pressure to be Thin

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“To be happy and successful, you must be thin,” is a message women are given at a very young age (Society and Eating Disorders). In fact, eating disorders are still continuously growing because of the value society places on being thin. Why do women feel the pressure from society to strive for the “ideal” figure? According to Sheldon’s research on, “Pressure to be Perfect: Influences on College Students’ Body Esteem,” the ideal figure of an average female portrayed in the media is 5’11” and 120

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The result of this negative body image culture is causing the massive spread of, “eating disorders and lifelong unhappiness towards one’s body” (Women's Body Image and BMI). The most vulnerable population of developing eating problems is adolescents and young people. Research statistics have shown that 1 out of 100 American adolescents are starving themselves, sometimes to death, and 4 out of 100 binge and purge or use laxatives to help sustain their weight (Sheldon 277).

From the 1900’s to 1910’s featured the era of the “Gibson Girl.” In that time period, the ideal figure of a woman was slender, tall, voluptuous bust, wide hips. They were also praised if they were in shape and in good health. The “Gibson Girl” transitioned to the “Flapper” in the 1920’s where as Flapper’s were immature, young women who were described as independent and reckless. Their particular lifestyle represented a refusal of the Victorian style. The ideal figure in this era was small breasts, no curves and short hair. It was ideal to have a flat chest, dark make-up, tan skin, and live a sporty and healthy lifestyles. The 1930’s to1940’s was America’s wartime. The Great Depression brought back a traditional style for women’s fashion and body image. This era focused on a trend toward practicality because of the plethora of men in combat. Shoulder width was emphasized and women were aspired to show off their curvy and feminine figure.
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