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1st Student's Major

Sociology and Corrections

1st Student's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Students' Professional Biography

Ms. Kelsey Mischke spent most of her childhood on a country farm in Southwest Minnesota near Westbrook. Growing up, she was very active in the sports, theatre, music, and academic extracurricular activities. She graduated from Westbrook Walnut Grove High School in 2011, valedictorian of her class of 50 peers, and choose to attend Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa for one semester. Driven by her pleasant experiences on the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus and desire to pursue a degree in mortuary science, she choose to transfer the fall of her freshman year. Kelsey is currently a senior at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology with a double minor in psychology and gender women’s studies. She is also completing a nonprofit leadership certificate to prepare her for work in the nonprofit sector. In her free time, she works at a group home, volunteers with the YWCA, participates with campus clubs, and enjoys training for half and full marathons. Ms. Mischke is currently pursuing research fellowship opportunities and plans to volunteer for the Peace Corps before attending graduate school for sociology. While her long term goals and plans are still being considered, she is sure that she loves academia, research, and activism, and could easily see herself as a university professor and lifelong activist.

Mentor's Name

Amy Sullivan

Mentor's Department

Gender and Women's Studies

Mentor's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

The ideal body type for women in the United States is morphing into one that not only requires a thin physique, but visible muscle definition and fitness. The athletic body type must still possesses feminine qualities such as large breasts, a smaller buttocks, and soft curves. Advertisements, fitness magazines, and internet memes have created a new level of perfection. However, this new ideal body type is still computer generated, created from parts of multiple women, and largely unobtainable. Since its emergence, little research has critically assessed these images and their effects of women’s self-evaluations. A feminist perspective was used to determine what these advertisements, photographs, and memes are really conveying to women. A sample size of 30 advertisements was used and 16 patterns were identified such as extremely fit and thin bodies, emphasis on impossible levels of societally defined beauty, and the sexualization of the female body, among other patterns. Auto-ethnographic findings indicated that these images lead to participant’s internalization and idolization, which resulted in feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, excessive exercising, and dieting in pursuit of this impossible physique. Though this study focused on a single woman’s experience with these images, larger implications for women everywhere are relevant and applicable. Those who inevitably internalize these images may travel down similar paths of psychological discomfort leading to physical injury in pursuit of an impossible ideal. Education provided by this study could deter such harms and prevent psychological and biological issues associated with striving for this new ideal body type.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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