What Beauty means to You? Beauty Myth
We are constantly surrounded by images of the “perfect” woman. She is tall, thin and beautiful.
She rarely looks older than 25, has a flawless body, and her hair and clothes are always perfect. She is not human. She is often shown in pieces – a stomach, a pair of legs, a beautifully made up eye or mouth. Our culture judges women, and women judge themselves, against this standard. It is forgotten that “beauty pornography”, focuses on underweight models that are usually 15 to 20 years old. Flaws, wrinkles and other problems are airbrushed out of the picture.
Define a beautiful woman. What kinds of adjectives come to mind? Do her inner qualities make her beautiful as well? What does "beauty is only skin deep" really mean? We all, somewhere believed that what made a person truly and genuinely beautiful, is what lies on the inside.
So often, we judge women on their appearance first, then their abilities.
Did you ever wonder how this came about and why we all do this today? There is no point denying it, we are all shallow and addicted to entertainment, it is simply our culture, our way of life.
This message is not only imperative to women, but to men as well, because women are not the only ones being manipulated by the media into feeling insecure and unhappy with themselves. Work, culture, religion, sex, hunger and violence and many valid points, such as marketing tactics, cosmetic surgery, stereotypes of women as sex objects and men as success objects.
Beauty is something someone else has. It a forever unattainable goal in which many people strive most of their lives to achieve.
The basic premise of this myth that surrounds us women is that forced adherence to standards of physical beauty has grown stronger for women as they gained power in other societal arenas.
This standard of beauty has taken over the work of social coercion formerly left to myths about motherhood, domesticity, chastity, and passivity,all of which have been used to keep women powerless. The gaunt, youthful model supplanted the happy housewife as the arbiter of successful womanhood.
The myth of beauty spreads the belief that an objective measurement of beauty exists, and that woman must want to embody it, and that men must want such women.
Celebrities and models featured in fashion magazines and beauty ads are mostly white women of a specific age and body type. Women of colour selected to represent “beauty” tend to be lighter skinned and thin-figured, plus the media representations of women of colour are often “whitewashed.” There are constructed standards around what it “looks like” to be beautiful and attractive, and people are judged on how well they meet that standard.
These judgments can influence job hiring processes, who people choose to be their friends, and how well someone gets treated by strangers.In this way, beauty circulates as a form of capital and commodity with social, economic, and cultural value.
Desired traits like a specific eye size, lip fullness, and nose width are premised on western standards of what “looks good”.
Our socially accepted beauty norms that idealize thinness, youth, and whiteness converge with the exotification of women of colour. For women of colour, bodies and sexualities are often turned into trends, jokes, and fetishes.
These tropes also don’t allow room for multiple ways of looking and being. Industries around beauty, fitness, and health converge with classism and racism in ways that select certain bodies as “normal” body sizes, which are actually thin idealizations of “smallness.” Bodies that seem in excess of the norm – that seems to get smaller and smaller – are under constant surveillance.
Let us move on from body and beauty standards, and emphasise the importance of make-up and cosmetics that women in today’s day and age cannot live without. No women steps out of her home without the daily concealer or BB/CC creams. It is as though these products have created a conflict in the mind of their consumers. Fordecades women did not use such products and still looked as flawless and beautiful. So why the need to use make up and still look normal?
But there’s something very strange about praising women for daring to show their normal human faces.
Are women’s unaltered faces really so controversial that they deserve applause for letting them out in public?
When we tell women they’re brave for simply showing us their normal, unmade-up face, the underlying message is that who they are without all the feminine trappings is just, well, horrifying. When you really think about it, it is a culture that tells women they need to wear makeup, tweeze, wax, shave, tan and cover up greys just to look presentable, our natural state of affairs is pretty controversial. But it shouldn’t be.
Let’s be honest, when a non-celebrity, average-looking woman goes without makeup, we don’t call her brave. Instead, we say that she’s “letting herself go”. The only people who will ever be gushed over in magazine headlines for their natural beauty are those who were considered beautiful to begin with and those whom we are sure will go back to their standard makeup-heavy beauty routine as soon as the photo/marketing opportunity is over.
What kind of world do we live in that creates the conditions that loving ourselves unconditionally becomes a radical idea? We deserve to be beautiful and to be loved on our own terms and not by a set of impossible standards measured on bodies and looks that don’t represent us.