The Gap Between Ideal Beauty Standards and Real Women

Great strides have been made in combating the unrealistic image of women in the media through campaigns, such as the DOVE Real Beauty movement, and through individual advocates, such as model Erica Jean Schenk who was the first “plus-sized” model to appear on the cover of Women’s Running.  However, the main image continued to be portrayed to young women through social media is that of tall, skinny, and lanky as being the ideal beauty standard. This creates an unrealistic expectation for many young girls growing up in today’s world and this message is perpetuated by the Miss America Contest, which although advocating for education, intelligence, and community service as desirable attributes continues to judge contestants based on ideal beauty standards and how she looks in an evening gown or a bikini.

In fact, when looking at the BMI of Miss America contestants versus the average American women throughout the decades, there is a large discrepancy between how contestants look and the average women looks. Using information from this study, the educational website found that the only decades where the two had similar body types were the 1940s and 1950s, and since then, Miss America contestants have grown thinner and thinner while the average American women has gotten heavier. Read More Here


This contributes to young women feeling inadequate in terms of how they look and can lead to body image issues and feelings of shame about themselves as a women. It is sad when intelligent, capable, talented, unique young women are unhappy with themselves as a woman because they do not fit this unrealistic beauty standard. Women come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and personalities and this diversity should be embraced. Who wants a world full of robotic “ideal” women?

There is so much more to being a worthy person than your outward appearance and I challenge you to:


body image


2 thoughts on “The Gap Between Ideal Beauty Standards and Real Women

  1. Great article! The portrayal of women in mainstream media versus everyday life are so contradictory. I feel women are aware of this issue now through multiple campaigns, however nothing really seems to be changing about the issue.


  2. This article was very informative. The swimsuit portion of the Miss America contest really disturbs me also: the fact that the whole nation sits at home judging women on TV based on their conformity to impossible body standards. I will be impressed when the swimsuit portion of the competition is eliminated altogether, and frankly I am insulted that it still exists. Many aspects of the graph were interesting to me, especially the fact that from 1920-1935 women 20-29 were on average underweight. It is also interesting that these two datasets have inverse relationships: showing that except for a brief period of time in the 1940s, the “average” woman never met the body standards of the “ideal” woman of that time period. Finally, I find it very disturbing that there are not more peaks in this graph. At the rate it is going, all of the Miss America contestants will be die from starvation and the average American woman will die from obesity related complications. I would hope to see this gap between these 2 graphs decrease in the coming years and form a happy medium, which will only happen by supporting all women and encouraging healthy lifestyles across the board.


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