A culture can be described as a certain way of thinking, judging, feeling and acting over a period of time becoming part and parcel of a people or a society. A certain culture can be classified as a family one, organizational culture, traditional culture, popular culture and many others (Narayan 177).
For instance, since the 1980s, blue-chip companies and mega corporations have entrenched a certain code of conduct or performance amongst their circles. Management consultants and theorists have popularized and described such institutions with their distinct languages, dress code, appearances, norms, and laws. These cultures or norms shape and govern the individuals working there and those aspiring to end in the same careers (Shields 19).
In the same way, the popular culture has entrenched its own kind of norms, laws, beliefs, traditions amongst others which dictate anyone indulging in it to toe a certain line. In this light, this paper will be seeking to unearth certain cultural artifacts in the popular culture that are dictating the growth or advancement of both women and men’s body image. The popular culture entails current events and trends in the society, such as technology, nutrition, entertainment, media, lifestyles, etc.
The artifacts, in particular, to be discussed in this paper includes will include a patriarchy society and its effects on how women view beauty. The other artifact will be the media and its current glorification of masculinity which tends to affect how men nowadays think of their images too. The two artifacts have caused widespread and long-term norms and behaviors regarding the physical looks of both men and women in our contemporary society. The paper will go ahead and indulge scientific materials and expert resources previously touching on these artifacts, and then draw a conclusion or a summary of the discussion presented henceforth.
The female body has for long been a center of attention and a cultural artifact since the time immemorial. Since the dawn of civilization, many symbols, sculptures and certain beliefs using the female body have sprung up. For instance, the sign of fertility during the early ages was a woman figure or sign. Today still, the female body still draws such admiration and a talking point. This is mainly because of how patriarchy has lingered up to date, and the society has almost given up on trying to reduce or eradicate the male dominion over the human race.
Our societies and governments are still heavily infested with mean and arrogant males who have successfully been able to exclude a huge percentage of women from positive contribution to the wellbeing of our society or progressive leadership (Shields 37). The practice is commonest in the developing and middle-income economies where women have been relegated to housewife duties, reproduction and upbringing of children. That means that men have crafted rules and policies, traditions and customs that give them an edge over women in almost all aspects of life.
And in the context of this paper, the paper will pay greater emphasis on the effects of a male dominated society on how women view their bodies and beauty in general. As earlier noted, the male leadership has swiftly set up a perception of what a beautiful woman looks like or what she has to have to be considered pretty or appealing. The western world pop culture has and continues to glorify very slim and lean women as beautiful and the opposite to be ugly (Helman 152).
This tradition is witnessed by more and more women and girls desperately striving to lose weight to look like certain celebrities. The brainwashing of the female species on their body weights and figures has been orchestrated by the popular media such as talk shows, fashion magazines, fancy entertainment joints hiring anorexic ladies as waiters or entertainers amongst others (Narayan 234).
Over a period of time, the girl child starts seeing slim as the sexy and attractive and thus get into a situation of self-hate and low esteem amongst peers. Researchers from the Harvard University showed that girls as young as nine years in America experience self-esteem issue on their weight, owing to what they see around or hear from the media, bullying in school against the ladies with a considerable body weight is common amongst the teens (Helman 112).
The experts recorded scenarios of girls that young starting to diet so as to lose weight and look like their “attractive” slim peers or their supposed role models who are always sportspersons, fashion designers, musicians, politicians amongst others. This is a wrong perception that is most likely corrupt our children and women in their blind pursuit to become beautiful. Research has linked serious disease conditions such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa to eating disorders.
Previously, it used to be believed that women only were the ones harboring insecurities over the looks of their bodies, but not anymore. Experts have shown that currently, about 25 per cent of men nowadays suffer some forms of uncertainties how they look or their beauty (Narayan 219). This tendency can be partly explained by the increased media campaigns advertising some kind of body looks which are slowly sinking into the minds of many men. For instance, many fashion magazines feature men with stunning, flawless looks with great hair, abs, dental formulae, posture, among other attributes.
In general, what these adverts on Televisions and fancy music tells us is that women and girls love masculine men, and thus those without are more “women” or girlish than men. The entire society has also fallen victim to this analogy, always reading contempt on those men without enough muscles or energy like a stallion. This is witnessed mostly when less muscled boys or men are seen or thought as homosexuals by the society (Shields 43).
The cloth line D&G has an advertisement which portrays three men with great biceps and abs surrounded by women, with a caption going like, “One must try them out and see how sexy they will make you feel.” This promotion not only makes men believe that they will look like the ones in the advert itself but gives the potential customer an ill perception of an attractive man.
Experts notes that most of these models do not look as exactly as they are made to look on the pictures, since most of the images are edited afterwards and gives virtual attributes non-existent to the common man so as to have the “wow” factor and convince the potential clients that the clothing will delete their shortcomings and look as attractive as those in the media.
The same strategy is used by liquor advertising companies which show men in expensive suits, cars, watches, accessories and posh surroundings mostly in the company of submissive women yearning for the man. This behavior as seen many men with body image uncertainties to buy unnecessary materials and lifestyles to try and cover their shortcomings (Helman 152).
Shields, Vickie Rutledge. Measuring up: How advertising affects self-image. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.
Helman, Cecil G. Culture, health, and illness. CRC Press, 2007.
Narayan, Uma. Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions, and Third World feminism. Routledge, 2013.