IF ONLY I LOOKED LIKE HER….I WOULD LOVE MYSELF BETTER.
It is without a doubt that the manifestation and expression of body shame within print media and television has made it increasingly difficult for women to accept themselves. Women are perpetually put under pressure to fit into post feminist body image that is reinforced in everyday .
The idea of body ‘shame’ within postfeminist dress has arguably manifested because of the pressure to have a perfect body, and people’s desire to conform to a patriarchal society’s dominant ideologies of what a woman’s body should look like. we see how even in popular lifestyle television programmes like How to Look Good Naked and Super Fat vs Super Skinny, , the idea that a feminine body has to be toned, slim curvy with large breast and large bum is constantly reinforced. The scrutiny of this continues to put the female body under surveillance, which emphasises on the fact that the female body is harshly ridiculed based how it looks, as opposed to its performance. Ignoring the fact that women’s body changes as they get older, when they get pregnant as well as childbirth playing a role into the changing shape of a woman’s body. To which Bartky (1990) notes that because of the pressure to look good at all times women constantly monitor everything that they do unconsciously:
“who, feeling fat, monitors everything she eats, has become, just as surely as the inmates of the panopticon, a self-policing subject, a self-committed to a relentless, a self- surveillance. This self-surveillance is a form of obedience to patriarchy” (Bartky,1990:80)
Terms like ‘saggy belly’ ‘dripping boobs’ and ‘granny pants’ are often used in television and print media, and this can increase self-criticism and the feeling of being undesirable or unhappy with their reflection when they look in the mirror.
Elspeth Probyn elaborates on this point in Everyday shame (2004) by arguing that:
Shame and the related experience of humiliation have arguably been foregrounded as structuring emotions for the contemporary subject enmeshed in a increasingly mediated world. Shame is born out of bodily desire to fit in and knows that cannot and there is no place to hide.
Here, we see how the manifestation of surveillance within print media and television programs reinforce the notion of perfection, as it makes women feel under pressure to constantly be aware of their image in terms of the size of their bodies, how it is shaped, whether it is pear shaped or hour glass figure and how stylish or on trend their clothes are. The feeling of ‘fat’ within make-over shows depicts ‘fat’ as a body flaw that must be immediately fixed, which is often represented as less attractive to be bigger than the ‘averaged’ sized 8-10 woman. This is without doubt unrealistic expectation because women come in all shapes and sizes, therefore it does not make sense to try and fit all women under one dress – the ‘postfeminist dress’.
Similar shows that reinforces the manifestation of body shaming within television is Ten Years Younger (2004 – present). Just like in How to Look Good Naked, the thought of aging is also seen as a symbol of weakness and within these shows the body becomes something that can be nipped and tucked, almost like a clay that needs to be molded, the body becomes something that needs to be manipulated in order to fit into the postfeminist dress, thus cosmetic surgery has become an instrument used to achieve the idea of perfect body, women are constantly put under pressure to be ‘perfection’ when it is unattainable as no one is perfect.
Credit : image taken from google.