Friday, May 23, 2008

Beauty or a FALSE Reality?

Beauty or a False Reality

The collage above represents the ideology of beauty that has been established throughout western culture. The images of tall, thin, white women have been plastered on television, billboards, and on the covers of magazines as examples of what the successful ideal woman should be or look like. These women are viewed as products, and as a result of seen by men as objects. Media uses advertising as way to create body expectations from both men and women. The problem with this ideal is that it doesn’t exist. The definition of “beauty” is fictional in fact the expectations are continuously changing depending on the impact that it has on men and their control status over women in society. These images send a contradictory messages to women; making it seem realistic that they could one day be these images with enough hard work, or even perhaps become the idealistic woman that every man craves. Also most of the women shown in these images are being viewed in a sexualized or submissive manner. These images can also make women confused as to if they are supposed to be aggressive or passive.
Naomi Wolfe says “that this beauty ideal is a currency system that has been shaped into a belief system used to keep males dominant in assigning value to women through physical standards {1}.” The issue with the ideals of beauty is that it has now began to define other aspects of society referencing women such as “myths about motherhood, domesticity, chastity, passivity, and in many ways has affected the job types women acquire {1}.” When these images are portrayed all through out the media and become ideals that individuals are socialized by; they later assist in the creation of contradictory messages. These messages are contradictory first because the images of these women are not realistic, second because women are being seen as successful or in control because of their beauty; realistically they are being controlled by other dominating factors such as men or the media. Third the images these women portray give a false representation of what the attributing characteristics of a woman are; and were created as a method to distract women from advancing to dominant positions in society.
Media has its own way of projecting cultural ideologies or perspectives through women. A lot of the ads that are shown of the quote on quote beautiful women have been re-touched, glossed ,or display women in a submissive positions. Other women who see these images base their lives or how they need to look or characteristics of behaviors they should possess or display. “A college woman argues it is these very images that make women feel as though their bodies have failed the beauty test. As a result they get so involved with their bodies, exercising, plastic surgery, and self improvement they are distracted from other important aspects of selfhood that may challenge the status quo {2}.” The fact that these images are unrealistic leaves women trying to combat a problem that can never be resolved. So in many ways the beauty myth is created to distract women from enriching their status in life.
Overall, the median responsible for the contradictory messages society is receiving about beauty is the media. In order to address the ideals of beauty full force women need to realize that as of today the roles they take in media coverage, exposure of particular body images, and constant marketing of a false representations of beauty is contributing to a serious issue. “Another college woman explains how important a women’s sense of self worth can be, but she also describes it as being determined by a women’s weight or attraction {3}. This is a prime example of how women are conceptualized in certain manners by individuals that are outside of their gender. One needs to evaluate who is making the determinations as to what is beautiful; if men are making the validations then how are women in control?” If women don’t find a mechanism to combat males validations of what beauty is; this problem, these depictions and/or expectations are going to become worse.

{1}Wolfe, Naomi. Gender and Women’s Bodies. Chapter 2 pp. 120-123
{2} Hesse, Biber. The Cult of Thinness. Chapter 3 pp. 61-66
{3}Hesse, Biber. The Cult of Thinness. Chapter 1 pp. 11-19