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Twice-Told Tale

Entertainment Sets Unrealistic Expectations
Emily Cypher
(Above) One of the main ways to improve body image is to, “Avoid weighing yourself,” according to suggested.

Entertainment has various forms, and now more than ever TV shows, movies, and social media set unrealistic expectations for women. Critics worldwide have talked for years about movies such as The Devil Wears Prada and Clueless, and their impact on women’s fashion. Although many critics fail to realize the side effects the movies have had on women, what’s even worse is the fact that the impact increases every year, creating a toxic pattern. Actresses receive an alarming amount of negative feedback and constantly receive questions about their diet and workout routine.

One of the most notable interviews that people look back on is one that happened on July 20, 2012, between Anne Hathaway and a journalist. In a conversation about her most recent movie at the time, The Dark Knight Rises, the interviewer asked, “How much weight have you lost to get into this shape right now?” Unsurprisingly Hathaway was not happy and replied, “You did not just ask me that! What a forward young man you are?!” This is only one interview out of many, but it is a perfect example of how people set the standard that women are valued mainly for their appearance.

On July 21, 2023, the Barbie movie was officially released to theaters. The movie was praised from the moment it reached the screen with women all around the world expressing their excitement to see themselves represented on film. Barbie has a long-standing reputation, as a company excited to evolve, but people still have a very stereotypical image of who Barbie is. On March 9, 1959, Barbie was officially introduced by Mattel, and although the company introduced Barbies with various careers and backgrounds, it wasn’t until 57 years later in 2016 when the Barbie Introduces New Body Types collection of dolls was released.

Body image will forever be an important subject, and when it comes to Barbie it has always been a hotly debated topic. Barbie and its long-time rival of nearly 23 years, the Bratz dolls, both have diehard fans and critics. Both dolls have been harshly criticized, but have also been equally praised. When the Bratz dolls were first introduced, the dolls were very different from their competitor, and as such received praise. With praise came a lot of debate and criticism, but what was undeniable was that the Bratz dolls were completely new. Even now the Bratz dolls are endorsed by various people, even Kylie Jenner, who recently partnered with the brand. 

Outside everyday life and traditional media, one of the most popular shows where women are compared to women is the reality TV show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The family has created something that some people might refer to as the “Kardashian Standard.” Within the very first episode, the show heavily focused on body image. In July 2023, Time Magazine even went so far as to state, “It’s telling that the very first episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians in 2007 opened with a family conversation about Kim Kardashian’s butt.” The article continued to say, “Kris Jenner famously referred to her daughter as having, ‘Junk in the trunk.’” This highlights just how highly focused the show was on the sisters’ bodies. This doesn’t stop though. It continues and is even seen today in their current show, The Kardashians, on Hulu.

The “Kardashian Standard” isn’t based on looks alone. It revolves around the health mindset that they communicate through their TV show. The Kardashians heavily suggest that their body image is achieved solely from, “Healthy habits.” The impact that this show has on women around the world is something that is not ignored and directly translates into women’s beauty standards today. Time Magazine commented, “The sisters have long been criticized for their perpetuating unrealistic standards through choices like using Photoshop and filters to alter their images on social media, promoting diet products, and speaking proudly about Crash dieting.” The impact the Kardashians have on beauty standards alone is not the only thing to worry about. There is also the power of social media filters.

TikTok continues to be one of the most influential social media platforms of all time. The app’s camera alone creates unrealistic standards amongst women, including a preset filter to smoothen the skin. As young girls and women in general scroll through their social media feeds, they see videos of girls who look absolutely perfect. This image might be purposefully calculated or it might be unintentional. The camera on TikTok is exactly the cause of some unintentional expectations set on women for clear skin, no acne, and more. But some women do take advantage of artificial improvements because they know viewers might have no prior knowledge of them at all, creating another image for comparison.

Sayings such as the, “Perfect legging legs,” or even having a, “Megamind head,” are expectations that have been set upon women from all forms of entertainment and media. TikTok primarily capitalizes off of “No make-up make-up” and uses audios of men talking about how women should not wear it. Somehow, men are always brought up when it comes to women’s beauty standards. However, it’s not men’s beauty; it’s women’s beauty. When people talk about women’s beauty from an outside perspective, it’s almost engineered for those who are older in society. Women are powerful and are not afraid of what they want. Women have engineered and created, things originally made for men’s benefit and turned them into something special for females. Such make-up, a product originally made for a man’s appreciation, is now one of many women’s favorite ways to express themselves.

       Different ways of expression are also seen in a semi-recent Netflix film, Moxie. The movie presented a very realistic image of what it is like for high school girls to go to school. While many forms of media do negatively impact women’s beauty standards, this movie was more of a commentary on it. The movie talked about issues such as dress code and why there are certain prejudices against women that men do not have to conform to. Some of the most basic things are criticized, such as not allowing shirts that show shoulders and requiring shirts with a high neckline. The movie brilliantly comments on the harsh reality of what women’s beauty standards are. This film proves that not all forms of media and entertainment negatively conform to women’s beauty standards. 

  Things as simple as the new Mean Girls movie depict an accurate representation of what girls look like in high school. They are not wearing designer brands. They are wearing fast fashion, and they are not all the stereotypical perfect body type. A question that continues to haunt women’s stereotypes is: what is the perfect way to define a woman and her beauty? But that’s an impossible question. There’s no one way to define a woman and her beauty because every woman is different, and that’s what makes women so powerful. Beauty standards are an unrealistic way to mold women, shrink them, and put them into a box. But just like every Barbie doll, women break free of their boxes and create their own person. Not all beauty standards are negative, and for some, they fit exactly. But for others, society norms fail to capture the full picture. The new standard is not to be standard; the new standard is to be you.

(Above) Body image is one of the most powerful things that effects women’s mental health on a day to day basis.
(Emily Cypher)
(Above) says, “Body image issues affect people of all ages, genders, and across all cultures.” Society needs to pay attention to how things affect body image. (Emily Cypher)
(Above) Another boost to self-love and body image is to talk to a counselor or a therapist. There are many different body types, and everyone is different. Self-love is one of the best steps towards a better body image. (Emily Cypher)
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About the Contributor
Emily Cypher
Emily Cypher, Copy Editor
Emily Cypher, grade 10, is the Copy Editor of Lake Highland Preparatory School’s, Upper School newspaper, the Twice-Told Tale. She found her passion for Newspaper from the iconic show Gilmore Girls, which aired in the 2000s. After reading more books than anyone could count, her passion for writing grew even bigger, as she is currently exploring creative writing as well. The staff and the opportunities that come with being part of the paper are what she enjoys most about being a member of the Twice-Told Tale staff. Emily continues exploring new passions with writing and beyond. Outside of school, she plays volleyball at Game Point Volleyball Club as a libero. Her commitment to the sport helps her time management skills grow along with her ability to be flexible. Emily loves to travel and visits New York as much as she can, and she is excited to push herself to learn new things.

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