The society and the media at large set the standard of how a beautiful woman should look through advertisements and TV shows. It is obvious that. by the time a little girl growing up comes to a certain age like seventeen, she would have come across 10% of magazines containing direct statements of how a woman’s beauty ought to be.
Women falling victim to this perception of “beauty” are raised with the notion that they must look like the professionals on advertisements and TV shows, thereby becoming a problem for some women who can’t meet such expectations. Susie Orbach in her essay titled “Fat is a Feminist Issue” demonstrates that irrational overeating and overweight among women can actually contradict expectation of sexist and patriarchal society. On the other hand, I came through a magazine that portrays the looks of sexy women, called “The Lawless Beauty. Susie Orbach’s argument about the potential look of a woman’s body which corresponds to the social media’s characteristics of fashion, gives me a better understanding of some advertisements and images from magazines. Specifically, Susie Orbach’s concepts of “women being candidate for men, becomes huge prey to fashion and dieting industries”, a woman must occupy herself with a self-image that others will find attractive and lastly a woman must be thin reveals how advertisements in magazines portray women’s looks.
One way in which Susie Orbach’s essay helps the reader to understand the commercials and images in magazines is her concept of “women being candidates for men, becomes huge prey to fashion and dieting industries”(451) It is obvious that since women are to present themselves in other to be admired by men, they tend to be in demands for some fashion and dieting industries that use women who are self-conscious about their looks and shapes, as a means to target some individuals in the society for their products.
According to Susie Orbach, a woman must present herself as an item before a man, whereby she must be physically fit, self-conscious and confident with herself and her appearance that will convey the message about the kind of person she is, in order to be attracted by men. Orbach proved her concept when she said “since women are taught to see themselves from the outside as candidates for men, they become prey to the huge fashion and diet industries that first set up the ideal images and then exhort women to meet them.
The message is loud and clear-the woman’s body is not her own. The woman’s body is not satisfactory as it is. It must be thin, free of “unwanted hairs,” deodorized, perfumed and clothed. It must confirm to an ideal physical type. ”(451) Basically, Susie Orbach is saying that since women are being taught to view themselves in a distinct characteristics in other to be admired, the dieting industries and fashion companies tends to use women images to meet these characteristics.
This concept of Susie Orbach draws my attention to Victoria’s Secret company once advertised a new brand of face make-up product called MAC, so as to increase their sales by attracting more customers especially women to buy the new product. The beauty company bearing in mind that the important goal was to produce an image of a thin, beautiful and confident woman to use for advertising their make-up product in which when viewed, it will raise individual’s interest especially women to buy the product.
Viewing some images of women’s make-ups in commercial magazines and advertisements, it enables me to understand Susie Orbach’s essay in the sense that, the women in the magazines possesses the attributes in Susie Orbach’s concept of “women being candidates for men, becomes huge prey to fashion and dieting industries” in which the image of a woman’s make-up is used by these commercial companies to illustrate the look of a woman. Looking through the May 2013 edition of Essence magazine named “flawless beauty. Specifically on page (3) the magazine portrays three aspects of the image in the magazine, like beauty, ladies advertising the famous Estee lauder, double wear make-up image which is what Susie Orbach will refer to it as “sensual, appealing, daring and mysterious look” (451) she had a red lip stick to match up with her red earrings, cute black eyeliner to go along with her long, black eyelashes, giving her an endearing feature that look captivating and daring, and also a warmth smile that will intrigue someone with the assurance she has for herself.
This particular image from Essence magazine, dictates a woman’s beauty with make-up so as to look attractive for men, which if Susie Orbach herself views this image, will confirm from her concept that the image of the lady in the magazine demonstrates a thin, beautiful and confident woman, because a woman must be self-conscious of her looks for in order to be attracted by men. Thus this advertising company and commercial magazines uses women’s images like make-ups to demonstrate how a woman’s look ought to be glamorous, confident and daring, in order to be admired.
Furthermore, one other concept used by Susie Orbach in her essay that helps me to understand the advertisement and images of women in magazine is “a woman must occupy herself with a self-image that others will find attractive” (450) That is to say, a woman must be self-conscious of her looks that will appeal and find pleasing among the people around her, an image that when looked at, will tell exactly the kind of woman she is, she should be capable of judging every detail of her looks as if she is an outside judge.
According to Susie Orbach, a woman is to be present herself like the newspapers, television shows and advertisement who describes women as a sex object and also like a mother within the family. She proved her concept when she said “she is brought up to marry by “catching” a man with her good looks and pleasing manner. To do this she must look appealing, earthy, sensual, sexual, virginal, innocent, reliable, daring, mysterious, coquettish and thin. In other words, she offers her self-image on the marriage market place. (451) In making this comment, Susie Orbach urges us to believe that a woman’s looks and self-image is very critical. She believes that as a woman, in other to get a good catching man, she should present herself in a good manner, looking innocent, confident and also looking sexual and appealing where other people especially men will find her captivating and long to marry her. The commercial and advertising magazines portray a woman’s image not only in a sexual manner so as to get a man but also make those women who are unable to meet this expectation to feel out of place.
For example, I came across another image in Essence magazine, which featured a half-naked Britney Spears on the cover with a lot of pretty and beautiful images. Specifically on page 20, on which I found advertisement on Express Leggings for women. On this page, is a skinny tall girl with long black hair and a pretty face, She is wearing high heels, tight leggings and short top that exposes her stomach out. This woman appears an ideal thin image that makes some women feel uncomfortable about their body and wants to protest against this market targeting by compulsive eating and being fat.
In this medium, fat is expressing freedom of choice and freedom of looking and being what you want. I think if Susie Orbach would see this image she would say that it is indeed a typical image being imposed on us, and that women do not have to be too thin and wearing tight fitted clothes. Lastly, Susie Orbach’s essay helps me to understand some advertising and images from magazines in her concept that explains how “a woman must be thin”, on a closer look, it shows that through compulsive overeating and being fat, avoids to be on magazine’s advertisement.
Some women do reject advertising by overeating to show their protest and decline, according to Susie Orbach, “my fat says “screw you” to all who want me to be the perfect mom, sweetheart, [and] maid. Take me for who I am, not for who I’m supposed to be. If you are really interested in me, you can wade through the layers and find out who I am. ”(452) According to Susie Orbach, some women purposely refuse to be advertised on commercial magazine as a way of protesting against the pressure to look and act in a certain way out of their own interest and decide to create an image for their selves.
It is certain that since the advertising and dieting industries uses women who are thin to advertise their product, they tend to isolate women who are fat. Fat women lack the potential requirement of thin women who are physically fit and beautiful. It is possible that fat women also look good too, now don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying they do not have worth in other aspect of life, instead, I am saying, because they are fat, they stand little or no chance to be physically fit, to look attractive like thin women, for in order to be attracted by men.
According to Susie Orbach, being fat or feeling fat gives a painful experience for women involved. As a result of compulsive eating and failure to control their appetite, they therefore lack the courage to express themselves as thin women. Susie Orbach proves this concept when she said “being fat isolates and invalidates a woman. Almost inevitably, the explanations offered for fatness point a finger at the failure of women themselves to control their weight, control their appetites and control their impulses.
Women suffering from the problem of compulsive eating endure a double anguish: feeling out of step with the rest of the society, and believing it is all their own fault…. ” (449) Susie’s point is that, women who are fat, lacks confident in themselves and the ability to control their appetite for food, thereby having painful experience of how they feel, thus feeling out of place with the rest of the society.
Taking a look at dieting industries and the commercial magazines, one will draw conclusion to Susie Orbach’s argument that society today, do really dictates what women should wear, and what not to wear. Nowadays, almost everyone wants to be skinny so as to look beautiful and admired but when commercial magazines tries to focus on skinny women, it make it difficult for the fat ones to socialize with others, because of low self-esteem they have for themselves.
It is on surprise finding online images that represent gender inequality, which also has impacts on women in general. Susie Orbach’s argument regarding the unhealthy expectations for women to look thin and beautiful, helps me to understand some advertisements and images from magazines and as well as the internet. Also, Orbach believes that compulsive overeating and being overweight, particularly among women, can themselves be forms of rebellion against the expectations of a sexiest, patriarchal society.
In conclusion, It is obvious that women are being pressurized on the aspect of how they should look through, the idea that a woman must be thin, she must occupy herself with an image that others especially men will find attractive and also the perception that “a woman being candidate for men, becomes a huge prey to fashion and dieting industries” which I think, it is a little awkward for someone should dictate and direct a woman on how to take care of her body and what she should wear.
Susie Orbach. “Fat Is a Feminist Issue. ” They say/ I say with Readings. 2nd edition. Eds. Gerald Graf, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Dust. New York: W. W. Norton, 2012: 190-197. “Flawless Beauty,” Essence, May 2013, April 15, 2013, 26. Print