Universal Beauty Ideals in Women's Magazines

Topics: Human skin color, Black people, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 9 (2853 words) Published: July 2, 2007
Hollywood has changed the way the world perceives beauty. White beauty has clearly sought precedence over beauty of other races, namely Asians, and is considered being a mainstream beauty standard. Mainstream bioethics in the United States originates from a white Anglo-Saxon protestant worldview, which serves silently to perpetuate white dominance (Arekapudi and Wynia, 2003). It has strongly influenced how Asians want to look these days, and Asian women show preferences for beauty standards outside of the Asian ingroup, especially for white women (Evans and McConnell, 2003).

Hollywood culture consists of good-looking, physically attractive people. Physically attractive individuals are often viewed more favourably than unattractive people on dimensions that are weakly related or unrelated to physical looks, glamorized such as intelligence, sociability, and morality (Smith, McIntosh and Bazzini, 1999). The fact that Hollywood culture is predominantly white, Caucasian and that it has such power over people, shows how it is considered to be the mainstream standard of beauty. Celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Ritchie, both nothing short of looks, are very skinny and rumoured to have eating disorders. Pervasive billboards and Hollywood ideals often contribute to feelings of physical inadequacy (James, 2003). They are part of the Hollywood culture and what they have to be what every female should look like. This, on a whole, makes up what we term "white beauty".

Because the media portrays Hollywood culture as "divine" and the fact that the media is so powerful and influential in telling people what to think, "white beauty" is what most females look up to and want to be. As Asians possess features that are far from the Caucasian white features, they think that they do not look as good or that they cannot be as "beautiful" as the whites. Some members of stigmatized groups, such as Asian women, may be more likely to experience negative self-evaluations after exposure to a mainstream beauty standard than Universal Beauty Ideals 3

members of other stigmatized groups, such as Black women (Evans and McConnell, 2003). Media is a powerful channel for the development of new ideas and potential behaviour and the mass media has a powerful influence on audiences (Miller and Philo, 1996).

Although there are many studies that have examined the effect of the mass media on females (specifically female adolescents) in terms of body image, there exist very few studies that have examined the connection between race and beauty. Creeden & Cramer (2007) suggested that beauty is not only a social construction, but an ideological one that is based on race, class and gender, and there is a racial hierarchy among women in terms of appearance. Women with Western features such as white skin, blonde hair and small noses are at the top, while other women who possess minority race features such as dark skin, big noses and black hair are considered inferior.

Even when non-White women are portrayed as objects of beauty, whether in films or magazine covers, their features are very close to the Western Caucasian ideal. As Lakoff and Scherr (1984) observed, their "features are close enough to white not to shock the sensibilities of mainstream Americans." This can be observed in local context, where most women's magazines commonly feature Caucasian or Eurasian models, both possessing Western facial features such as large eyes, double eyelids and sharp noses. Thus, representations of beauty in the media and popular culture have reflected and reasserted racialised social hierarchies, and this has created the Western beauty ideal.

In an analysis done by Creeden and Cramer (2007) on magazine covers, an issue of Seventeen, a giant in the world of teen magazines in the United States and a significant part of adolescent girls' culture, featuring an African American women (Alicia Keys) on their cover was studied. However, they found that the...

References: 1)Arekapudi, S and Wynia M. K. (2003), The Unbearable Whiteness of the Mainstream: Should We Eliminate, or Celebrate, Bias in Bioethics?, Spring 2003, 3(2). American Medical Association.
2)Creedon, P
3)Evans, P. C and McConnell, A. R (2003), Self and Identity, 2: Do Racial Minorities Respond in the Same Way to Mainstream Beauty Standards? Social Comparison Processes in Asian, Black and White Women, p. 153-167, 2003, Psychology Press
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5)Kitch, Carolyn . L (2001). The American Girl, The Girl on the Magazine Cover; The Origins of Visual Stereotypes in American Mass Media, 37. The University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill & London.
6)Kitch, Carolyn
7)Lakoff R. L., & Scherr, R. T. (1984). Face Value: the Politics of Beauty. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
1)James, K, (2003), Take Control, Better Nutrition, Volume 65 Issue 8, p.44, 3p, 1c.
2)Lee, S., & Rudd, N. (1999). Beneath the skin: A cultural comparison of cosmetic surgery and body image among Korean and American females. International Journal of Costume Culture, 2, 21-30.
5)Miller, D and Philo, G (1996), Against Orthodoxy: The Media Do Influence Us, Sight and Sound, p. 18-20.
6)Padmore, Catherine
8)Wickman, Laurel. J (2000) A Correlational Study of The Impact of Media Influence on The Body Image of Adolescent Females.
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