I was hesitant about posting this, but after reading an article that was published on the same topic last week, I decided to share it. For my Senior Seminar we were allowed to pick any topic we wanted to to for our research paper. For awhile I was stumped, but my professor told me to find something that I was really interested in so I wouldn't get bored of looking up more information and writing over 15 pages. At first I was not sure why I was drawn to this topic. I reflected on why this topic fascinates me so much and think I have come up with some form of an answer.
Because it also affects me.
I am by no stretch of the imagination considered over weight. Yet I still focus on how much "better" my body could be. Does this make me vain? Or am I simply just a product of my environment?
If this does mean I am vain...I think most women out there are in the same boat as me. I do not obsess over my body, but it is something that is constantly in the back of my mind. I will find myself critiquing my body, and then seconds later tell myself how ridiculous I sound. Why do I play this battle in my mind where I have to convince myself I look fine, and that I know am pretty dang healthy? And what does this battle mean for other women? Some result in eating disorders, BDD, obesity, and others simply fix the "problem" by going under the knife. Since we had to narrow our topic down to be very specific, I decided to focus on plastic surgery, more specifically cosmetic surgery.
Why do so many women have body image issues?
I would just like to preface this paper by saying that I am not necessarily against cosmetic surgery. I do however think that women have taken it to a new level, and our society is starting to accept it. 
The feelings women have about their bodies is what most concerns me.
I would really love to hear some women's perspective on this.

Now please don't mind any spelling errors etc. that you might find in this paper, my parents already pointed out several to me! I turned it in a couple days after Christmas so I wasn't reading with the best of academic eyes at that point, haha.
P.S. Just a couple days ago my mother emailed me this link. This article made me decide to post my research paper. I know not everyone reading this is LDS but for those that are I thought you might find it interesting, especially if you live in Utah. Just some surprising statistics and more thoughts about exactly what I discuss in my paper.

An old friend and her sister have made this topic their mission in life :) check our their blog!


  1. I didn't read your paper, but in one of my critical thinking classes, we explored the media and advertising. The world and everywhere we look is constantly telling women how to "look" or "act". Ads always have the biggest boob, smallest waistline girls who are smiling adn attractive- which garnishes attention which, clearly, that's all we women want (not!) Since taking this class, I've noticed how often ads, or anything else in the media, targets women to be something other than they are... And I agree with you on cosmetic surgery- I'm not against it, but when it turns in a Real Housewives or Heidi Montag syndrome, it's gone way too far... And to think, there are some villages where women are FATTENED up in order to marry- they believe the fatter a woman, the more fertile and likely she is to bear children. It's a good topic you could easily write 20 or 30 pages on.. I'll make sure to read it and give feedback!

  2. I skimmed a lot of what you wrote, and it was written really well. I actually didn't realize, until I read your article, how advertising can just sneak into a movie (FedEx in 'Castaway), and that would be, advertising!
    Yeah, it's pretty crazy how much advertising is in our society today. Although for me, advertising doesn't get me to buy a product. If I want to buy something, I read reviews of the product, from actual people, and then see if it's something I want to buy.
    I think it's great to address cosmetic surgery and what it's doing to our society, but I think the question really is, how to stop it. How to show more positive images, and less negative ones. I mean, gosh, only 15 pages you have to write, this topic can be written about forever! So many things to write about.

  3. This is such a great topic. I feel that girls from a young age start having issues with their bodies no matter how beauticul they are. I don't know if we are born with soem sort of deeply set desire to be perfect or if the environment we grow up in just forms us into these individuals obsessed with image, but the lengths that some women feel they have to go to just to feel pretty makes me very very sad.

    Great topic!!!!

  4. Good topic :) I like the link you left too, though I heard one reason that Salt Lake and Utah in general have so many plastic surgeons is because schooling in Utah is relatively cheaper and so many plastic surgeons graduate from there and then start businesses there.

    People come from other states just for procedures because it is less costly. I'm not saying that some LDS people don't use those services but I think that is not the full story either.

    I'm sure you'll handle this sensitive topic well in your paper. Good luck!

  5. such a great topic and i think it affects us all - even those with "perfect" bodies. it's truly sad but i have to say it's the media too. airbrushed women that men think are actually real!!! it's sad and i'm glad you are bringing the spotlight on it! p.s. you're beautiful

  6. SO glad you posted this! I grew up training at an intensive gymnastics academy, so I was exposed to anorexia at an early age through close friends. I think because of those experiences I've always been facinated (and horrified) by eating disorders in general. I never actually had a disorder, but I find myself obsessing over pant sizes and pudgy spots even though I know logically my weight and size is healthy, & I've seen the life threatening consequeses of obsessive body imaging. I don't think it's necessarily vainity. I think women (especially lds women) sometimes have a tendancy towards perfectionism, and the need to feel "beautiful" (meaning the correct size, skin type, body frame, and personality) gives us a sense of self and success. It's just so easy sometimes to forget the things that real beauty consist of because you can't always see or touch them.

    LOVED this post.

  7. This is a wonderful topic. I think every woman of all walks of life can relate. Have you ever just stood there and looked at a magazine rack in B&N? Every thing is so focused on women. How to be the perfect wife, mom, lady, professional, how to get the perfect body, how to satisfy the guy in your life. When has it ever just been okay to chill out and just BE? So frustrating, yet somehow we all fall ill to the disease of perfection. This morning I was actually researching nose jobs!

    Have you seen that show Bridalplasty??!

    Also, sexting is an epidemic! I can't imagine what our kids will be doing.... it's scary to even think about! NO CELL PHONE FOR YOU!

    One of my professors wrote Bitchin' Bodies - which is a book comprised of various interviews with women about their body images and issues related to the topic. You totally should check it out.

  8. I definitely think that the media in our culture today predisposes us from an early age to have unrealistic expectations of what beauty is and how we should look ourselves. Where did all the healthy women go?
    My parents chose to not allow my sisters and I to have Barbies for that very reason. They wanted to minimize the influence of the media on our body image. But honestly, we all saw and still do see how my much my own mother has struggled with her body image - hopping from diet to diet and trying every workout video under the sun trying to find the "perfect" program to get her to the body she wants and she never is happy with herself even though she has never been obese, maybe a few pounds overweight at times but the woman gave birth to five kids - she's allowed to have her weight fluctuate a bit.
    I know I have been on both ends of the unhealthy spectrum at different phases of my life. I was chubby in elementary school and I kind of feel like I never have stopped seeing myself as that chubby girl. I lost the "baby fat" and was a slender highschooler (though I never thought so at the time). I remember as a teen going days between real meals and obsessing over the scale (I am 5ft 5in and was around 120lbs at the end of high school). I gained a some weight over a few years while in college but didn't get really bad until after I got married. I think it was a combination of my sedentary job at a call center and being on the pill that pushed me from 160 to 220 in less than a year. Since then I have had three children and my weight has been on a roller coaster. I'm currently hovering at 175 and trying to deal with my food issues to find a healthy balance without becoming obsessive. I now have a daughter and I want to do my best to show her how to be a strong, healthy woman inside and out.

  9. I think you did a great job on the paper. It was LONG, took me about 20 minutes to read that whole thing.

    I have views on the way woman should be and that is healthy. If you are as healthy as you can be and you are still about 10 lbs overweight according to the doctors. What's the big deal? you are healthy, that is the most important thing. It shouldn't matter how skinny someone is. And to be honest, really skinny people actually look the worst, they look unhealthy and that shouldn't be the way we see things at all. Everyone is shaped differently, and to say that woman should be one size fits all is outrageous.

  10. i never get bored reading these kinds of things. good job on the paper. i truly wish people in power positions would slap our media and culture around a bit. it's only getting worse and we can't really afford it. i appreciate you bringing light to this topic that never seems to get quite the respect it deserves.

  11. So, I only read part of the LDS Living article you posted, but I thought that their stats for calling SLC one of the vainest cities we're probably a little off - something that you would want to note if you used this as a source for your paper. The question I would pose is how many of those plastic surgeons are cosmetic surgeons? I think that one explanation for the high number of plastic surgeons in SLC might be that they work at the U medical center and primary children's doing reconstructive plastic surgery - distinguishing between those who are doing cosmetic work and those who are doing reconstructive work would probably change those stats a lot. I'm not saying that I don't agree, but using those stats for a school paper might require you to write some critique of them or whatnot.

  12. Chels,
    I actually didn't use this article as a source, I just saw it a couple days ago and thought I would add it as something interesting :)

  13. great job on the paper Alycia. It's been interesting to watch evolve from one idea to another. I'm glad you got it done :)

  14. It's because of the media. Talk to a family that doesn't watch TV or read trash magazines. I can guarantee you their kids think they are perfect the way they are also because they have not seen otherwise what is "expected" as the perfect body!

  15. The authors of that article have a whole website devoted to the topic of redefining beauty. I think you might appreciate their most recent article on the BMI Scale.

    beauty-redefined dot org

  16. I so admire you for posting this:] I enjoyed reading your paper, I thought you did superb and made a lot of valid points. And that article you posted truly hit home with me:]

  17. Such a good topic to write on. In fact I just wrote a paper recently on plastic/cosmetic surgery on women and based it around the song Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead. My favorite paper I've ever written because it's something as women we can all relate to. We all feel so inadequate and why? It doesn't matter what size we are it seems that we are always critiquing ourselves, I do it. That article that you mom sent you is a good reminder that focusing too much on those things takes away our focus on Christ.
    Thanks for the post, I'm glad you did!

  18. Hi!
    I am the author of that LDS Living story you linked and I saw your comment on LSD Living's site. Thanks so much for linking it! And I'm glad you decided to post your own work. For all the harmful information we are fed by popular media every day, it is SO important to counteract it with uplifting information about REAL health and beauty that is so much more all-encompassing. Excellent work! I haven't read it all but I am so glad you're invested in this topic. My sister Lindsay and I are getting our PhDs in communication and have spent lots of years speaking/writing/researching on this stuff. It's so important to me and has resulted in our "Beauty Redefined" workm the last couple years.

    I did want to address the ranking someone had a question about regarding SLC as the "vainest city in the nation." That is according to reputable national stats Forbes published on how many plastic surgeons per capita each city has and how much each city spends on beauty supplies in all their forms. I am currently researching why SLC has reached the top of that list and there are many reasons under investigation: A few of which are definitely the facts that the U has a fantastic plastic surgery department that pushes out many graduates who may stay close to SLC to practice and that it is cheaper to get work done in SLC compared to California, so people travel here for those procedures. That stat can also be attributed to the fact that Utah has a more educated population than the rest of the nation on average, which results in a higher income on average as well. I believe there area few more factors but this comment is getting too long :)

    Anyway, thanks for blogging about this extremely important subject and for commenting on my story. Feel free to visit my website at and on facebook at Beauty Redefined.

  19. Aw your paper captured me and that article you linked!! I read nearly every word of your paper....well said! It is a fascinating topic - that all women have to come to terms with.
    I can relate to you on the body image thing....I always have it in the back of my head as well, for me, beyond athleticism, I truly feel so much of it has to do with the beauty industry as well.
    Thanks for your comment on my blog by the way. I like your blog :)

  20. Gah, I think about my body image ALL THE TIME. It's so annoying because every single day feels like a battle as I try to focus on keeping a healthy attitude about myself. For goodness sake, I just wrote a break up note with carbs on my blog before reading yours. But I must say, how refreshing to see somebody sticking up for a healthy attitude about image without promoting the extreme in fads (like plastic surgery) and such. And if you can tell me the solution to all of this self beating up, please do.

    Good read :)

  21. aaah! i haven't read your paper quite yet but i really loved that you posted this. i also wanted to share this link with you ( if you haven't seen it already. we watched it in my nutrition class at byu when we addressed eating disorders and problems with self-image.

    i also wanted to say that my next door neighbor growing up is now a model in new york. she has modeled for major companies and magazines, such as elle. she is under so much pressure from various people to maintain her skinny weight, her 00 jean size, and overall appearance. whenever i think "Oh, that model is so glamorous", i realize that they are thinking the same thing about somebody else. the only way for the cycle to stop is to be happy with yourself! just something to think about.

    thank you so much again for posting this! :)

  22. Alycia,

    Thank you for your great post. I haven't had time to read all of your paper, but I think this is a way important topic for our generation. Check out this poetry slam about being "pretty." It does drop the F bomb at somewhere around 2:43 seconds, but skip to 2:48 and I think you should clear it just fine. :) Looking forward to reading your paper.

  23. Oh, ha ha. Here's the link:

  24. Hey! I read your paper, & I only teach 7th grade English . . . but I'd say it's fab!
    To share my perspective, I've had to literally turn off the television. I try my very best not to watch tv or get too into fashion magazines. I used to be really into reading magazines, but I've filled that void (and expense) with blogs . . . about real women & their real lives! I've found that since I stopped watching TV (I do watch the occasional Glee, however) I've been a lot happier with myself & less greedy for more of what I don't need. I think that media has far too much a hold on our lives & I try my best not to let it get ahold of me.
    Blessings to you! What a great topic to write you paper on!
    <3 leigh

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