Its funny (not funny haha, but youknow) how girls everywhere have some variant of a body image issue. Too fat. Too thin. Too dark. Too pale. Big ass. Small boobs. You know the drill.
Country specific culture usually determines the dominant body image issue women usually subscribe to. But the overall problem of a negative body image is a universal phenomenon I’ve noticed. The fashion industry, popular culture and women themselves, form the terrible triad influencing women about an idealised (probably non-existent) body type that women should aspire to.
Australian women (like most women from Westernised societies) are chiefly concerned with weight issues and fat talk. Secondary issues of course include aspirations for the perfect breasts, the perfect face or the perfect tan.
Best market for: Anything that promises weight loss without any hard work. Not surprising that Jenny Craig started here. Plastic surgery too is booming.
A common matrimonial ad for a bride in India includes “fair/ slim/ convent educated”. Fair of course really means less dark than the next best applicant. It’s not a post-colonial hangover like some people seem to think. Indians don’t want to be white as in Caucasian. They want to be fair-skinned like many North Indians are. In ancient times, the North Indians were the ruling upper class who dominated the darker-skinned Indians. The definition of beautiful was an upper class woman so obviously an ordinary woman wanted to look like her fair-skinned counterpart. The upper class has gone but the obsession with fair skin is going nowhere.
Weight related negativity is also gaining increasing amounts of traction.
Best market for: Fairness creams. Quick fix weight loss is also a burgeoning market.
Have you heard of medical tourism? Latin American countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and a few others are hotspots for cosmetic surgery tourism. Colombian women are known for their love of cosmetic surgery. Think there’s a body image issue hidden there somewhere?
Best market for: Cosmetic surgery. Duh.
Even Chinese women of yore weren’t free of the guilt. Women with large feet were unacceptable because they weren’t feminine. Cue foot-binding practices. Cruel and painful yes. But we women, we do anything for fashion and to look like the “ideal” woman who isn’t.
Best market for: Feminine footwear – especially size 5 and under.
And then are teenage girls. They are being bombarded by a variety of sources that tell them what “perfect” is. When an adult woman struggles with societal pressure on how she should look; what chance does a teenage girl have of coming out unscathed? A teenage girl worries about every part of her body and that is being fully exploited of course.
Best market for: Guilt tripping.
If you’re expecting a lecture on how “society” needs to stop making it so hard for women to be the way they are – it’s not happening. Society is made up you and me.
*This post is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge for July 2011.