It’s not a Barbie world

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In today’s society, health is neglected for the strident media attention on the impossible standards of body image as well as the stereotypes associated with it. Just how is the ability to see your bones when you look in the mirror a sign of beauty?

Keeping healthy is lost in foolish attempts to alter the human body to resemble that of childhood dolls like Barbie and G.I. Joe. Methods to lose weight or otherwise fix an undesirable part of the body are often dangerous and unhealthy. Dieting doesn’t work for many people who find themselves quitting and going back on the diet multiple times. This cycle of on-off dieting slows the body’s metabolism as it adapts to lower amounts of calorie intake, resulting in weight gain.

Sudden weight loss often results in a grim list of side effects, ranging from bad breath to organ damage, and even an increased risk of contracting a cardiovascular disease. Why bother wasting time with ineffective methods to lose weight, especially if they will just end up harming your body? It makes no sense to constantly put your trust in unhealthy habits like dieting when they repeatedly fail. They only benefit the already well-off dieting and beauty industries. The key to a healthy body, and therefore a more positive mentality, begins with a balanced diet and an active lifestyle.

It is wrong to judge a person’s health based on his or her appearance. Someone who is thin may struggle with anorexia, an eating disorder characterized by the chronic desire to lose weight or refuse to eat. 8 million people in the United States alone suffer from eating disorders, which comes as no surprise when the standards set by the media are limited to either being skinny, muscular, or a social reject. It is sickening to know that the third most chronic illness among adolescents in the U.S can be easily remedied by shifting the focus away from appearance to actual health.

The line is crossed when people turn to plastic surgery for augmentations that are meant to grab attention rather than correct disfigurations. Cosmetic surgery, when performed correctly by a certified surgeon in a sanitary environment is fine, as long as the person is fully committed to the procedure. There is no need for such surgeries unless that person’s life is endangered without it. Silicon is often inserted in areas such as the chest to be utilized for no other reason than to attract the wayward gaze of roaming eyes. Botox is used to remove the natural wrinkles that come with age to produce a younger look. A diet naturally high in food items such as nuts and leafy vegetables can do the trick, without the high cost of a pointless surgery.

Plastic surgery is often risky as well. Current federal regulations in the U.S. allow anyone with an M.D. to perform cosmetic surgery, regardless of training or certification in any set of skills. Even surgeons who have not yet completed their training can perform such surgeries, which can result in paralysis, infection, disfigured bodies, chronic pain, and even death.

Media images add to the blatant materialism that dictates one’s body image. Seventeen Magazine, for instance, is riddled with a heightened focus on physical appearance. The writers even go as far to say that vocal accents define a man’s level of attractiveness.

With the lack of health awareness, the future of the youth in this world is in danger as they fall prey to the media’s influence on their perception of beauty. While some campaigns, such as Dove’s “The Real Student Body,” are beginning to change the stereotypical model standards, they are masked by the dominance of materialism in popular culture. Until true health is promoted, the people of America will continue to waste a precious $40 billion on a corrupt beauty industry profiting from society’s imposed insecurities.