Beauty is a word which has a powerful impact on both men and women. We live in an era where consumerism and commercialism define what is beautiful and how you should be. Both men and women find themselves trapped, and are conditioned to make them eager to fit in the riddle of “the ideal standards of beautiful men or women” – a social construct, a bias manufactured by the social norms of today’s society.
When we connect body and identity, we argue that cultural imperialism has a significant impact on our notion of beauty, especially in Asia where consumerism and commercialism are relatively high.
Social constructs highly influence Asian men and women within the interpersonal relations in the patriarchal system.
Women are subject to what society defines as beautiful: small waists, long legs, narrow hips, long shining hair, white flawless skin and slim body. As for men, they are judged by muscle, tone, shape, hairy or hairless chests and any other masculine characteristics that determine beauty today. So, it is noticeable that the body size of men and women portrayed in mass media has steadily been declining in size. This, in effect, represents the new beauty trend in society.
That being said, body image of men and women is inevitably referred to as thin-ideal media. The term ‘thin-ideal media’ highlights the idea that being thin is good and desirable, even if it damages one’s health. For these reasons, eating disorders are often related to ideal body stereotype internalisation. Researchers later found that anorexic and bulimia are a result of that drive to be thin, which arises from being dissatisfied with one’s looks.
On the other hand, the ideal concept of beauty in today’s society has been counter-attacked by those who are against the thin-ideal concept of beauty – the ones who find beauty in curves. However the criticism has gone way too far to eating disorders and obesity.
According to health researchers Schwartz and Brownell the link between weight and body image is complex. They argue that body image might be affected by obesity through psychological distress, thus giving an impact on the quality of life.
Binge eating is apparently common among people with eating disorders and people who are obese. People with anorexia and bulimia have binge eating disorder then purge by vomiting using laxatives or other means. Study reveals that binge eating that is not followed by purging may affect to weight gain.
Obesity, from a psychological point of view, is seen as one of the most stigmatising phenomena. Bias against obese individuals, according to Puhl and Heuer in a 2009 report stated that it is socially acceptable yet pervasive influence on our culture intimately related to injurious results including mental health and physical complications, such as poor cardiovascular health and overall health-related disease.
For these reasons, being obsessed with thin-ideal concept of beauty or with beauty in curves can be profound, as both are at significant health risks, and cuts life expectancy. Through this, beauty standards have a chance at being redefined.
This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine July 2018 issue “Health in a Era of Urbanisation”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.