Women’s History Month: Body Image

Jocelyn Orellana

From long dresses that left not one inch of skin uncovered, to mini-skirts and tube-tops, women have come a long way.

Cornell gender studies Professor Joan Jacob Brumberg’s “The Body Project” was the topic of the presentation held in Krieger Hall on March 11. Professor’s Elizabeth Kronbeck and Robyn Fishman from the history department joined forces to lead a discussion on how the woman’s body has evolved in the past 100 years.

Adolescent girls in America are caught up in a bind. Growing up in a female body is more difficult today than ever before because girls’ bodies have changed during the past two centuries and so has society.

There is also much greater emphasis on the body as a way of defining a person’s self-worth. The discussion gave some insight on how much attention women are putting on their physical appearance these days.

Women have gone from embracing their natural god-given, pear-shaped bodies, to becoming consumed in refining their appearance by means of artificial enhancement.

“Girls today are growing up believing that good looks are the highest form of female perfection. The American Society of Plastic Surgery statistics show how much plastic surgery among women has grown since 1992. The leading procedure is breast implants and has grown by 803 percent,” said Kronbeck.

In the 21st century, pop culture has become more powerful, and expectations about physical perfection have increased. The pressures of looking like a celebrity have never been so great, and American girls have come to define themselves more through their bodies.

These days there are a number of facilities and weight loss programs that can help women re-sculpt their bodies. But not all women turn to this form of weight loss.

“Young girls have now become consumed with acquiring the ‘perfect’ body. Statistics from the National Eating Disorder Association showed that 43 percent of first to third grade girls want to be thinner, and 81 percent of 10 year old girls want to be thinner,” said Fishman.

Today, the body has become most girls’ primary project, creating a certain extent of self-consciousness and dissatisfaction that is widespread and often dangerous.

In honor of Women’s History Month GCC has filled the March Calendar with a number of events honoring the feminine culture. For the complete schedule visit: http://seco.glendale.edu/socialsciences/whm.pdf