Women are bombarded with images of unrealistic, and frankly, distorted views of beauty. The New York Times recently addressed the issue of computer-enhanced glamour covers. The article examines how stars are made to look perfect, if not mannequin-esque (see the covers side by side of Reese Witherspoon), when digital artists retouch magazine photos.
“My feeling is that for years now it has taken a much too big part in how women are being visually defined today,” says photographer Peter Lindbergh.
The consequences of our plastic culture and the pressures to achieve some sort of unachievable beauty are plainly seen in a recent survey of 1,000 adult women. The poll conducted jointly by AP and iVillage revealed that the women are less concerned about their physical health than their physical appearance.
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About half of the women were unhappy with their weight, even though a quarter of those were at a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). While a smaller number – about a third – were worried about their physical condition.
Dr. Molly Poag, chief of psychiatry at New York’s Lennox Hill Hospital, points to the problem that our culture worships supermodels more than female athletes.
About a quarter of the women in the survey said they would consider plastic surgery “to feel more beautiful.” The most popular choice was a tummy tuck.
The problem is our superficial perspective. We only see the outside, not what’s happening inside us.
“People can’t see the damage that’s being done inside their body,” says Dr. Nieca Goldberg, who directs the women’s heart program at the New York University Langone Medical Center. “If you increase your fitness but don’t lose as much weight, you still have a lower heart disease risk than someone who is obese and sedentary.”