Some of the negative ways in which young women try to achieve the ideal body are plastic surgery, excessive exercise, and eating disorders. The ideal female body is becoming thinner and thinner. The media targets young women drilling thinness and having no flaws as the height of being beautiful. Thanks to plastic surgery you can change your overall appearance. “Plastic surgery has become a more than 8 billion a year industry” (Hess - Biber, 2005:96). Women feel they need to have the perfect nose, and cheek bones to fit in to the media’s criteria. “Nearly nine million surgical and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures were preformed in 2003 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgery” (Hess-Biber, 2005:96). There a few most commonly used surgical procedures to acquire the perfect body. Frances Berg the author of Women afraid to eat states, “the two most popular stomach- reduction surgeries, gastric bypass” (Berg, 2001:163).
Another fast growing way to achieve the ideal body is excessive exercise. Exercise can take over the individual’s everyday life making exercise the most important priority. In the book Women Afraid to Eat by Frances Berg states, how an exercise dependent individual will act, “she follows rigid, stereotyped patterns, and insists on continuing exercise even when it causes or aggravates a serious physical disorder” (2001:85). Exercise becomes a problem when achievements of becoming fit, changes to wanting to reshape their bodies there’s a problem. If an individual cannot exercise she may suffer form severe withdraw symptoms.
The women shown in magazines and television shows are models who represent only 5% of real women in the U.S. Eating disorders are another growing disorder on our society. The three main types of eating disorders are Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge eating. Anorexia individuals have an intense fear of weight gain or becoming fat. Frances Berg states, “Anorexia nervosa patients refuse to maintain weight at what is minimally normal for age and height they weigh less than 85% of expected weight” ( Berg,2001:76).
Bulimia Nervosa occurs when a person has a constant episode of binge eating. Berg states, “episodes include eating in a discrete period of time, and amount of food larger than most people would eat, and a sense of lack of control over what or how much one is eating during the episodes” (2001:76). This experience is followed by vomiting, misuse of laxatives, and diuretics.
Binge eating alone is another way women try to achieve the ideal body image. “Three things that most be a part of binge episodes include: Eating alone because of embarrassment about how much is eaten, eating large amounts of food when not hungry and feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty about eating" (Berg,2001:77). Binge eating occurs at least twice a week for six months or more.
This issue of the medias negative influence on young women’s body image needs to be changed. Young women should not have to worry about a certain height or weight. They should be having fun looking into the future, and not constantly stuck in the mirror wishing they were something there not.