Media is a powerful influence in the lives of all people. The beauty industry markets to women with difficult goals of staying young and attaining physical appearance that may never actually be attainable. The effects are far reaching and include the amount of money spent on the industry, self-esteem, body image and eating disorders.
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The beauty industry includes cosmetics, beauty supplies, perfumes, personal grooming and toiletries. Diet, health, personal care and fashion products are also part of the industry that markets to women about being or becoming more beautiful. The diet section of the beauty industry alone in the U.S. pulls in an estimated £26 to £65 billion annually, according to the Media Awareness Network. Overall the industry benefits economically from women feeling less than whole, so they will purchase the products to become better.
The way a woman feels about herself is influenced by many factors including personality, family, friends, society and media. The beauty industry influence on the self esteem of women can affirm a sense of low self esteem through encouraging them to think they need beauty products or ideals to be happy. According to About-face.org, one study found media advertisements idealising thin figures led to depression, dissatisfaction, lowered mood and lowered self esteem.
Women relate to their bodies through the thoughts they think about them and the behaviours that stem from those thoughts. As a woman grows her body image is developed through personality, family, society and media influences. The beauty industry influence on the body image of women contributes to the way a woman sees herself physically. In the U.S. the ideal for women is thin, toned and athletic. This image is propagated in fashion, diet and beauty circles through focusing on women who have this body size and shape rather than a fair representation of women’s bodies.
Although eating disorders are not caused by the beauty industry, the influence society and media have on women’s ideas of what they should look like does play into how eating disorders form. Women with eating disorders often suffer from low self esteem, control issues and lack of self acceptance. The beauty industry influences women with eating disorders by contributing to the idea that they are not OK the way they are.
The beauty industry is a business, and as long as consumers buy into the reasons for the business it will be profitable. Some beauty products are designed to enhance women’s natural beauty while others focus on the perceived inadequacies of women. Choosing to love herself regardless of outside influence allows a woman to accept and radiate inner beauty, allowing her to choose whether or not she wants to play with make up for fun.
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