(Written by Natalie Brown, with edits by Devon)

The (Special) Effects

$15,000. To the average student, that’s at least one semester of education, food, or emergency money. However, according to InStyle, to the average woman, that’s the amount of makeup she will buy in her lifetime.

The media constantly pushes a perfect ideal on women that requires them to purchase insane amounts of makeup in order to be “pretty.” But the reality is that this perfect “pretty” girl does not exist.

Every image you see in the media of women smiling modeling a product has been severely edited beyond recognition. Even under heavy makeup, models still contain “imperfections” that the media chooses to erase with a click of a button through image manipulation programs. Imperfections such as freckles, wrinkles, flat hair, and the natural shape of the body.

Such heavy editing may seem harmless at first, but it has severe, sometimes fatal, effects on the body image on teen girls and women everywhere. Media is known to have a stronger effect on young adults than it does on children and adolescents, according to NEDA. The study also suggests that long term exposure during women’s childhood creates a foundation for the negative effects of media during the beginning of adulthood. On average, 8 to 18 year olds spend 7.5 hours engaged in some form of media each day. With all of this negative media consumption, the chances of young women developing some sort of eating disorder due to the unhealthy portrayal of women in the media.

How can we fix this?

As adults we have the responsibility to make the world a healthy and stable place for girls. Girls need to realize that being “pretty” is not the only thing that matters. A way to support women and encourage them is to support organizations geared towards portraying a positive body image. For example, Operation Beautiful, a non-profit organization, uses sticky notes to post uplifting messages in places like bathrooms, where many girls often criticize themselves in the mirror. They believed that by leaving positive messages like “You are beautiful” and “You are amazing just the way you are” on mirrors of public restrooms and the walls of their school that they could make someones day just a little bit better.

1C6400925-danika-fears15B36DB2-DA1E-3362-D409-CF10B4361D3A.blocks_desktop_largeRecently students from Plano Senior High School in Texas decided they were going to support Operation Beautiful by having makeup-free Friday. 1,000 female students showed up to school without a trace of makeup. The goal of this day was to make the students feel comfortable in their own skins. 80 percent of the schools 1,300 female students participated making it a success.

It’s events and organizations like these that help fight against the negative images the media portrays. We as a society need to come together, like in Operation Beautiful, to promote the acceptance of natural beauty.

What are your opinions on the media’s portrayal of ‘perfection?’ Comment Below!

Links Below for the Images and Information Provided in the Presentation:

Confidence Coalition: http://www.confidencecoalition.org
Operation Beautiful: http://www.operationbeautiful.com
Hours/Year Statistic found: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/24/women-daily-appearance-study_n_4847848.html
Revenue Statistic: http://www.statista.com/statistics/243742/revenue-of-the-cosmetic-industry-in-the-us/