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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2

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The ´ideal´ image of beauty across the world which appears in the media, for instance, social media, movies, and magazines nowadays, seems to become progressively the same as the technology of cosmetics and beauty industry gets more dynamic, more advanced and more innovative. The homogenisation of beauty not only impacts culture, but also ethnicity. This research is conducted to critically analyse the impact of globalisation with respect to beauty ideals and practices. Today there is extreme pressure for women to fulfil and maintain standards of beauty instigated and controlled by the bourgeoisie in media industry which then comes to an effect of the two step flow that is passed down through the media to the proletariat, creating unrealistic standards of beauty for women compared to men, conceptualised differently in other time periods and cultures.

Beauty standards have always been present in society as one of the most controversial topics with the many effects of beauty and body image media places on women and young teenagers. Bombarded with advertisements made by bourgeoises in the media industry, the use of social media i.e Instagram and Snapchat is one of the most powerful marketing tools for selling products related to beauty, fashion, dieting products to any plastic and cosmetic surgeon advertising their practice thus explains its influence in most people's' lives. Furthermore, these advertisements can be found on television, on the internet, in magazines, on billboards, on the radio and even endorsed by celebrities causing constant influence of these advertisements which conveys that we must improve the way we look in order to be accepted by society.

The theory of uses and gratifications helps explain the reason why certain women's body image concerns are more affected than others by what they see in the media. Although the thin ideal as portrayed through the media is shrinking, and social media introduces a new platform on which to self-objectify, it cannot be assumed that all women will be equally affected. The way in which each woman is affected by what she sees in her surroundings is different. Different, too, is the lengths to which all women go to self-monitor and self-objectify. Although mass media attempts to dictate a sort of understanding that women are required to be physically attractive, not all women are affected. “just about everyone in America still feels personally exempt from advertising's influence,” the uses and gratifications theory helps distinguish for which type of person that is actually true. The theory addresses this problem and specifies those who, in reality, are deeply affected by what they see in the media. Instead of blaming all media, in general, for manipulating women's thoughts, the uses and gratifications theory is concerned with how individuals use the media, and therefore it emphasises the importance of the individual. The theory looks at the type of woman who consumes certain mediums and asks whether or not the content will be an influencing factor in her self-worth, dependent upon her, rather than the content of the medium. It asks what type of person is most likely to choose to use media as a means of gratification and if that person will also be influenced by what he or she sees and hears. The uses and gratifications theory allows room for certain audiences who are not, in fact, negatively affected by what they see. Specifically, it looks at how individuals “choose to expose themselves to the messages being conveyed through the media and how they act upon their chosen interpretations. The theory does not assume a passive audience, as is somewhat suggested in objectification theory. The objectification theory and suggests that a woman with already low self-esteem will be more influenced by a higher exposure to objectified images of women in the media. She is also the woman who will seek out a certain type of media as a way to feed her already negative self-concept. She will choose to consume a certain type of media that will reinforce her already negative thoughts. For example, a woman with high body dissatisfaction is likely to consume media with images of thin and perfect models, which will then adversely affect her already negative feelings. Uses and gratifications theory is important because it suggests that the women who already feel dissatisfied with their appearances and bodies are more likely to be negatively impacted by the images on social media, as well as traditional advertisements.  

Hypodermic theory can be applied to India as it's a country which has been influenced significantly by foreign cultural influences due to foreign rulers, interactions through trade, and other cultural exchanges. As a result of these influences, the concept of beauty in India has become intertwined with the fairness of the skin colour. Furthermore, globalisation has started to influence Indian socio-cultural life via an increased influx of foreign ideas through various media, increased business and trade with other parts of the world without any barriers etc. Because of the upsurge in the Western influence on India, the various Media spaces are filled with the Western pop stars, actors, models;  who don't belong to the Indian racial stock, and show unrealistic images of beauty which are influencing the Indian concept of beauty; for example Vogue India choose a Caucasian model, Kendall Jenner, over an Indian one as photos from the issue, labelled the "10th Anniversary Collector's Edition,". In a culture where girls are encouraged to use skin-whitening creams and bleach and favour light skin and expanding the definition of beauty is an ongoing battle, putting Kendall Jenner for Vogue India is a step backward as it can be very harmful to younger generations.

Moreover, social media is a perfect example of what can happen when a certain type of woman has a high consumption rate of media. Women with low self-esteem are most vulnerable to choosing what media to which they will expose themselves, and that choice will also contribute to the construction of a possibly distorted understanding of reality. For instance, a woman with high body dissatisfaction will choose to follow other women, whom she thinks to embody a certain ideal, on Instagram. In response, she will feed her negative body image and strive to look the same way.

Cultivation theory argues that a high consumption of that chosen medium will then cause the woman to create a distorted social reality. Eventually, she will believe that she must embody what she sees in that medium. All together, these theories suggest that women with already negative body image tend to be vulnerable to the internalisation of the ideal body type that they see in media, therefore causing them to seek out more thin ideal photos to make upward comparisons, and eventually make diet and exercise decisions to further their progress toward replicating it. An example of this would be of where French women are starving themselves and were reported to be the most concerned about their weight  and have a greater focus on healthy eating in Europe, the influence of fashion industry promoting unattainable beauty ideals that are harmful both to models and those who try and emulate them; Leading them to have the highest proportion of underweight women throughout Europe and it's become quite drastic to the point a bill had to be passed that banned “excessively thin” models.

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