KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In the span of a week, FOX4 spent a large portion of our Morning Show newscasts learning about the effect our society’s obsession with appearance has on our money, our brains, and our bodies.
Here’s a recap of what we learned.
Starting with body image, and what society said was considered “beauty.”
“If you look at Grandmother to mother or to daughter, you would see some pretty big jumps,” Jenny Lundgren, provost and executive vice chancellor, and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said.
Through generations, the standards changed, sometimes drastically. And with those changes, advertising worked hard to persuade women and men to buy the products to help them “conform” to each new beauty standard.
“Those industries that have been driven by economic factors have in many ways, without women’s awareness, convinced them that they need to change to fit into a certain mold,” Lundgren said.
Advertisers enlist the keen eyes of photographers, editors, and models to make their products look as appealing as possible.
“I think it’s important for people to know that what they’re looking at is the most beautified version of what it is,” photo retoucher Natalie Bluhm told FOX4.
Thanks to social media and our own sophisticated cell phones, standards of beauty are being advertised everywhere, even by friends from high school!
Being inundated with these filtered and perfected images can cause people to start feeling unsatisfied with their own bodies. It can get so bad, mental illness in the form of an eating disorder can take root.
Eating disorders can and do affect men and women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities.
“For a long time, people of color and males have been underrepresented because researchers don’t see them as being as at risk, so they haven’t sought them out. And there’s a lot of disparity, too, in terms of accessing health and being able to participate in studies. I think the science has to get better,” Dr. Kathryn Pieper, a child psychologist and the director of Children’s Mercy Hospital’s eating disorder clinic, said.
Depending on several factors, including genetics, food insecurity, even where you grew up, a certain body ideal may be unachievable no matter what lengths someone goes to change their bodies.
We learned about the many factors that affect body size.
“This idea that we have complete control over our health and body size by diet and exercise is a myth. It is such a myth,” registered dietitian Jennifer Anderson said.
The idea of perfect beauty is a myth, and we learned that through our last two stories as well. For bodies, skin, and hair, the standards are never the same, and what’s considered beautiful one day may be out the following day.