Much is said today about the damaging effects of social media platforms…
…but I believe television is still at the root of our false ideals of beauty and transformation.
In a world of screens small and big it can be easy to forget about the original screen that captivated the world and served to establish a number of social standards and cultural ideologies that continue to reverberate today.
Television as a medium has been with us for decades now and although there’s been a great deal of discussion about the social damage that new media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram can wreak on young minds. It is television and those that create it that are responsible for setting the major trends that have defined mind sets and planted the seeds of body dysmorphic disorder in thousands of minds around in the UK alone.
Body dysmorphic disorder is a condition defined by the NHS as:
“a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others.”
BDD is a very different beast to OCD, but in many cases they are inextricably linked. The causes vary from person to person – some studies have pointed towards a genetic link, whereas others suggest that a chemical imbalance in the brain is the root cause for the condition. In my case I know that reality television was the instigating factor in the formation of my own case of BDD which led to me undergoing a series of surgeries including a breast reduction, rhinoplasty and multiple chemical peels over the course of a single year.
Plastic & Proud, Make Me A Famous Face, 10 Years Younger
If you’re a fan of so-called ‘trash TV’ then you’ll no doubt be familiar with these titles, they collectively represent the quick and easy face of plastic surgery in the UK and although they might make attempts to portray the ‘realities’ of surgery, it’s hard to see any of this realism amidst the snappy narration, jolly mood and transformations that take place during barely 45 minutes of television.
These shows, amongst others, portray the kind of plastic surgery myth that has worked to realign how the public conceives beauty as a commodity, rather than an innate quality. They show ‘normal people’ undergoing surgical procedures in an attempt to realign their physical appearance with how they believe they should look. But where do these belief’s come from? Whereas it would be easy to point towards Hollywood and the high aesthetic standards that are held there, in truth it is today’s cult of reality television that is to blame.
Love Island, The Only Way Is Essex, Made In Chelsesa
For the last 8 years or so a strange kind of reality television has permeated culture in the UK that has single-handedly come to define a new standard of beauty. This beauty harks back to the 18th century obsession with obvious fakery and intersects with a skewed perception of wealth to create a new ideal of success in the minds of millions. Whilst many might choose to watch these shows ‘ironically’, true devotees of this particular brand of television have realigned their aspirations to see the stars of this show as pinnacles of success in terms of their appearance and their social clout.
Despite many claiming that that age of television’s influence has ended, it’s power to hypnotise and suggest still holds many under it’s spell.