The Beauty Myth and Media’s Distortion of Beauty
October 30, 2012
Semester Project Socy-2112
Shante White, Taylor Sharpless, Caleb McCora
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What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see a well-dressed young woman on the street, at work or in class? Most people’s reaction would be that the young lady looks beautiful. However, everyone has a different perception of beauty, especially the media. The media’s distorted view of beauty is based on a Eurocentric ideal, in which a blonde haired, blue eyed, thin white female with large breast is considered the “ideal” beauty. Across the nation, this beauty myth is being reinforced in the commercial culture through magazines, television, and film. In doing this, women’s perception of beauty is being altered to fit the media’s unrealistic view of beauty.
Beauty, as seen in cultures around the world, is expressed and revered in many fashions and forms made by those individual cultures. It seems that almost everywhere one goes; “beauty”, “beautiful people”, “beautiful things” or “beautiful places” set the trend for the norm in which society is to follow. As seen with popular television shows, advertising commercials, and the simply newspaper ad, beauty is the dominant focal point for which businesses or advertisers have turned to and are using as the object of desire to make an ordinary item seem more lucrative and marketable. People, especially women, envision themselves as being beauty and desirable by all; even if extreme measures are sought out and extensive procedures are performed to enhance themselves into what “society” deems “beautiful”. Even though many continue to revere this “artificial” sense of beauty, many continually pursue it, while there are others who condemn this concept and consider it a waste of time and energy. Furthermore, many feminists argue that emphasizing beauty only reinforces the idea of a sexual inferiority. Since 1970, there have been more than 2,000 published articles examining the theories of beauty and attractiveness and there still no clear assessment as to defining what beauty really is (Schulman, 2008).
Individuals concerned with their appearance are getting younger and younger. The false beauty portrayed in the media gives everyone exposed to it a skewed perception of what beauty really is. Much of the “beauty” so many people seek to obtain is not naturally obtainable. 80% of women and girls feel worse about themselves after seeing a beauty advertisement (Matlins, 2011). The sad part is only 5% of women in the United States actually fit the body type popularly portrayed in advertising (Jean, 2011). In magazines and ads much of it is Photoshop and in real life it is plastic surgery and makeup. According to a recent study, children as young as 10 are worried about and often dissatisfied with their appearance (Matlins, 2011). A child’s happiness is directly related to the way they perceive their body. For girls, their body image is directly linked to how thin they are. 69% of girls feel that models in magazines have a major influence on what they think a perfect body should look like (Matlins, 2011). Boys were happiest when they were neither too lean nor too heavy. Just 30 minutes of television programming and advertising can change the way a young person perceives the shape of his/her body (Viskovicz 2012).
The effect advertisements have on the average person is often daunting. One might say that the magazine editors do not know what they are doing and they should not be the ones to blame, but they know exactly what they are doing. They know you will aspire to obtain the beauty you see in their magazines and that is why 9 times out 10 the next page after an article titled, “10 Ways to Be The Most Beautiful You” there will be 5 advertisements with the latest makeup and beauty enhancers. Though women go through a great deal to be beautiful and desirable they want their...
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