Beauty in Women

Dishon Sierra

May 5th 2014

Mirror Essay

Beauty in Women

We are in a battle with beauty. Every day each individual comes in contact with a billboard, a magazine and a TV show. Most of the time it shows someone beautiful as the main image and then individual looks back at themselves and compares. We do it naturally maybe not all of the time but we do. The ideal of beauty is tearing us apart. It is making us hate one another, and makes us want to be someone else just so we can have that beautiful image. The definition of beauty changes throughout generations for instance the beauty back in the 1500’s compared to now is different likewise in this day a beautiful look in the 1500’s would not be beautiful to us now. Society tells us how to be beautiful and the qualifications that it takes to be that one word. “We live in a society of billboards and ads, Photoshop, and Botox. We are trained to believe that size two is perfect, while most healthy women in America fit into a size 12” (Zucker.) My thoughts on beauty have been influenced by the media. The media would like us to think that beauty is what is in the inside but really it is what is on the outside or they would have a not so attractive person on the magazine covers or TV shows. We get our definition of beauty everywhere and it defines who we are today, beauty is dictated by magazines, clothing brands and social media.

Bored at the doctor’s office? Grab a magazine. Bored at your siblings/friends hair appointment? Grab a magazine. Waiting in a long line at the grocery store? Grab a magazine. We have magazines to keep us busy and we end up coming across some interesting things. Magazines are filled with great illustrations and articles to keep us busy. There are different types of magazines targeted at certain people such as the sports illustrated magazine which mostly targets at those active men but not always. Then there are those hunting and fishing magazines as well. What you will find most sitting on one of those tables waiting for a meeting, or your appointment will be a People magazine, Cosmo magazine or a Seventeen Magazine. To sum up what is included in those magazines are gossip, beauty, advice, or how to make a guy like you. When a women comes across a handful of magazines she is more likely to choose to read People or Cosmo over sports/hunting magazines because these magazine are targeted at women mostly younger women. The bright colors and the little comments on the cover of magazines attract women’s attention to pick up that type of magazine. I know when I am waiting for something and there is a stack of magazines I indulge in Cosmo or see what’s up with celebrities in the People magazine.

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Magazines like Cosmo have one thing in common and that is having attractive people on every page of the magazine that is not being taken with an actual article. The front cover always has a beautiful and extremely photoshopped celebrity or women on it. Magazines like this are filled with ads on cosmetics and how to be thin and maintain being thin to basically look like those girls on the covers. I mean who wouldn’t want to look like that if that is what the media is portraying as beautiful.

This article is on point with the affects magazines have on women but mainly young women. Friendly Advice Beauty Messages in Web Sites of Teen Magazines main idea is that beauty is a requirement and we have to actually work for it in this society. Fighting the urge to quote the whole article this one sentence pretty much explains how youth of our society are getting the information that we have to be a certain kind of beautiful. “..is a youth oriented society, where images of adolescent beauty are prevalent in magazines, television, the internet, and in billboards and other advertisements. Whereas in the 1800’s adolescent beauty was views as an internal characteristic demonstrated by strength of character, good deeds, and purity of heart. It is now predominantly perceived as physical perfection” (Labre). This identity of being beautiful makes me feel like I have to wear makeup in order to even be looked at by the opposite sex or considered pretty by my peers. It makes me insecure with having acne and makes me feel like I have to run to the pharmacy to get that prescription gel that I saw in the magazines to get rid of just one pimple. When I was in high school I subscribed to three different magazines and they were all like Cosmo with advice on makeup, boys and clothes. I grew up reading magazines and the media feeding us with information that beauty is what the girl in the magazines and billboards look like. Sometimes I feel pressured by the society to look a certain way but yet I am so immune to it that I consider it normal which is how society is today. Beauty pushes us so hard that we end up cracking.

Back in the day beauty was more focused on intelligence and the grace you held, if you were graceful and you accomplished positive things you were seen as beautiful. Today you must look a certain way to be beautiful and it does not matter much on your internal self.  The media in magazines enforce our outer self more than internal self. Urban dictionary and other definitions say there is external and inner beauty that each person carries, but yet we do not recognize that. The society does not listen to that. It is all about what is on the outside and the inside comes later. This article summarizes what I am trying to say overall with teens, magazines and the media. “Research also indicates that girl’s exposure to the beauty ideal disseminated by the media is related to an increased perception of the importance of beauty and a reduced satisfaction with personal appearance. In a study conducted with adolescent girls, Tan (1977) found that exposure to televised beauty ads increased the girl’s perceptions that beauty, sex appeal, and youth are important to men. A study of female college student revealed that exposure to the idealized images in advertising raised their comparison standards for attractiveness and lowered their satisfaction with their own attractiveness”(Labre). What is included in these magazines makes young women think that they need to look like this to get guys and so beauty is not just looking good for us but it is looking good for other people. Ads make women look down on themselves, the company may not be doing it on purpose as they are just trying to sell their product but it hurts women. There are many other things that contribute to beauty in young women and how we see ourselves and how society wants us to look like that is just one attribute.

Walking through a mall you walk past clothing shops, shoe shops, etc. then you pass by a bright pink store that has ‘sexy’ mannequins set up with bras and underwear all over the store. It is an extremely inviting store that looks so pretty and glamorous. Victoria Secret is an extremely popular lingerie store that is booming fast and now sells clothing and cosmetics. They advertise mainly underwear and bras on their commercials. Now this brand is trying to sell their clothes and yes they do sell them and fast but how? On commercials, ads, fashion shows, magazines, everywhere there are thin, beautiful and sexy girls (models) that are half naked flaunting off the product. Girls like these models are perceived as beautiful and yes they are but media makes it seem that it is okay if you do not look like this because you can fix this with make-up, Botox and dieting. Being beautiful means you have to be thin and wear sexy and appealing intimates. I admit that beauty sells but what is it teaching our society and the next generation of what it means to be beautiful? Media is delivering content that shapes our emotions. I shop at Victoria Secret all of the time and yes the way the advertisements are made is what leers me into buying those expensive bras. That maybe guys would want me more if I shop there kind of thing and that is disappointing to think that. Many teen girls think that because that is how media targets young girls. Beauty is essential in this day of age and people will go to huge lengths just to be known as being beautiful.

“No matter what else a women does, no matter what else her achievements their values still depends on how they look”(Miss Representation). I came across an amazing documentary on Netflix that portrays the media and the misrepresentation of them in the society called Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. It is so inspiring and can be emotional in some parts. This documentary interviews actual young women and their stories in how they feel about the media and how they feel pressured in looking a certain way. Media has a lot to do with how young women see themselves and what beauty means today. What catches our eyes when we look at these models in the Victoria Secret ad? The body image. We see these glamorous girls and wish that we could look like that; we think they are so beautiful because they are thin and have no body fat on them whatsoever. It is interesting how we see something on paper and want to be like that. The media influences how we see ourselves and our body image. We are not considered beautiful if our bodies do not size up to our faces or if our faces do not size up to our bodies. One of the young girls interview in the film loved her curly hair but she straightened it for school because that is what people want from her that is what is beautiful. Girls measure themselves up to these models and hear things from their peers that make them feel like they aren’t beautiful enough and so they have to recreate themselves just to be seen. Miss Representation gives a great insight on people’s feelings with the media and the way they portray being beautiful is hurting society’s younger women. This documentary is amazing and so powerful that causes emotions to come it. Beauty is a big deal today and extremely important to all ages in society and media is the number one contributing factor.

Social media has a huge impact on beauty. There is this one extremely popular application where you can post image after image over anything you want and people like it or comment on it. This application is called Instagram. There are food pages where they just post food, building pages, fashion pages, fitness pages and then personal users as well. I do not want to forget the beauty pages. Those and the fitness pages kind of go together and are used the same way as well as the celebrity pages. By typing in ‘beauty’ in the search engine it will pull up several pictures referring to beauty and chances are the user of that picture is a ‘promoter’ of beauty and is filled with who is beautiful and how to be beautiful. I came across this one article on the Huffington Post that is incredibly shocking. This social media was first used as I quote “Instagram was designed to be an online photo-sharing app that let users pimp-out their pics with cool filters and then share them.” Now what is going on with instagram by mostly young teenagers is I quote “People will actually vote for who they think is the least attractive in the comments, and whichever girl’s name is written the most will be awarded a big fat X drawn across her face”. Now there are blogs that are all about beauty on the inside and that is great but what Instagram blog do you think teenagers are more appealed to? Instagram posts have gone extremely far and are now breaking down girls’ self-esteem. In my opinion if this happened to me it would completely ruin me, I mean people should not vote on someone being attractive or not. What is being attractive anyways? Who makes the rules for that?

People may say that ‘you don’t need make-up, you are fine without it’. But does society say that? Do the media say that?  No, not exactly. If they showed people on magazine covers wearing no make-up then chances are others would do the same but it is not like that. Beauty is defined by the media, the people close to us think beauty can be natural but media says something else. Beauty is a constant battle with the media and oneself. Miss Representation documentary shows young, normal girls that feel pressured to look like someone else and feel that they have to fix themselves just to be labeled a word. The media is portraying beauty all wrong. Beauty should be internally, the way you carry yourself and the way your mind works. Everyone sees beauty in someone, having to change for someone should not be applauded. We are all unique in our own way and that is what the media should portray beauty as.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citations

Becker, Hollee. “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep, But Instagram Is To the Bone.”The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 4 Apr. 2013. Web. 2 June 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hollee-becker/beauty-is-only-skin-deep-instagram-is-to-the-bone_b_2994360.html

Labre, Magdala Peixoto, and Kim Walsh-Childers. “Friendly Advice? Beauty Messages in Web Sites of Teen Magazines.” Mass Communication & Society 6.4 (2003): 379-396. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 18 May 2014.

“Miss Representation | Home.” Miss Representation. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2014. http://film.missrepresentation.org/

Netflix: Miss Representation. Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 2011

Zucker, Temimah. “Society’s Standards Of Beauty Will Get Old, But Being Comfortable With Yourself Never Will.”The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 May 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/temimah-zucker/aging-and-beauty-_b_5134228.html

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Beauty in Women

  1. Hey Sierra,

    It was great to read the final version of your Mirror Image essay! Being in your Workshop group it was cool to watch your concept to into draft and into a final essay! It looks like you made a lot of really awesome changes to your paper from the draft I read and had a great flow to it. It was interesting to read the part you added about social media. I use Instagram a lot but for entirely different reasons than you listed. I am one of those dorks who likes to take pictures of buildings and nature and call it “artsy”. Honestly, I had no idea that sub-culture of Instagram even existed. I do not even know how to relate to growing up in a social media age. When in school the first time it was 14 years ago and Facebook or MySpace or even smartphones weren’t even around then! Gosh, I feel so old and I’m only 34. All that to say…your essay gave me an interesting perspective into what women have to contend with in regards to beauty and their own definition of beauty. What a struggle considering you are being barraged by all angles. Do you think that this Mirror Image essay has changed how you will perceive yourself? Also, do you think confidence has anything to do with beauty? Meaning do you think if we had more self-confidence to begin with then we would worry less about beauty?

    • Thank you for reading my final essay! It was great working with you in workshop group! I am glad that I was to give you a different perspective, ha-ha yeah you are not old. While writing this essay it really frustrated me. No, writing this paper does not change how I perceive myself but it makes me think differently about the media and how I wanted to look like some of the celebrities on magazines and now its like that is not really them, it is all Photoshop. So in a way this essay changed my perspective on things but really it just made me mad how society and media pressures girls to look a certain way. Good questions! I do think confidence has something to do with beauty, but I feel like society pushes confidence down and that is how insecurities are formed.

  2. Hi Dishon,

    Great essay, I really like the topic you chose to write about!

    I liked that you tied in personal stories of your experiences with our beauty culture, and how that has affected your mentality on what “beauty” should be. I recently heard about a scandal concerning Mindy Kaling’s Elle cover. She’s an Indian American comedian and I think she has her own TV show? Anyways, the point of the controversy was that her magazine cover photo was just of her upper body. You accurately pointed out that every model on a beauty magazine is seen in a lot of make-up, skin-tight clothing and is Photoshopped. So wasn’t it strange that Kaling’s photo was so out of the norm? A lot of people were speculating that this was because she doesn’t fit our so-called “beauty & body standards”, since she is not as skinny as the models we usually see, and the magazine didn’t want to show the reality of that!

    Also, I feel that a lot of people forget that there are also different standards of beauty in different countries. Even though the US is culturally diverse, the media does not do a good job of representing different backgrounds in their magazines, the TV and such.

    I have to also point out that even though back in the day, women were judged more on their grace, manners and the positive things they did, it was mostly because they were not allowed to do anything else. Women were far more limited on what their could do with their lives, so they had to resort to excelling in things that were considered socially acceptable for them at that time. Now though, since women have a lot more options and can do really great things in a lot of different fields, I feel that a lot of them want to make up for what they may be “lacking” in old-style feminine skills. So, they usually turn to make up and beauty. And that’s completely fine, but apparently some people thought of capitalizing on that intention and now there’s a booming beauty business…

    I think you made a great point when mentioning that beauty standards today are important to those of all ages. We focus a lot on how the media affects teenagers and young adults, and the negative side affects to their self-esteem, confidence and overall mentality are just as you mentioned because they are at an age where public approval is considered essential. But you can also see that the media is starting to make an impact on those much much younger too. I went as a chaperone to a news studio a while ago, and some of the 5th grade girls were commenting on how pretty the news anchor was. Another girl pipes up and says that “she’s only pretty because she’s wearing make up”. What?? It’s astonishing, and kind of scary, to think that the influence of the media’s beauty standards has reached those you are so young and shouldn’t even be worrying about these kinds of things!

    Also, this video is pretty funny and makes fun of our beauty standards. The “disclaimer” at the end is really great: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zO2wFkl46g

    Thanks,
    Shradha

    • Hi Shradha,
      Beauty standards have really hit hard on women and it’s sad to see that it hit the younger generation of girls. They now worry about how they look and don’t feel pretty because they don’t look like the twenty year old women in the magazine! To see the idea of how a women should look implanted in the mind of of a young girl and have her grow up that she will never be considered beautiful because she doesn’t look like the girl in the magazine or on TV is horrible! It’s going to take a toll on her eventually. It’s sad to see how a young girl is thinking about make up and being pretty instead of going out and just being a kid.

  3. I really enjoyed reading your essay. I totally agree that woman are now pressured by the media on beauty and looking like the “ideal woman.”I agree too, that media should portray unique beauty because everyone is different and unique.

  4. Dishon,
    Wow such a well put essay! I absolutely feel like you hit the way beauty is represented in the media right on. The line where you say “the ideal of beauty is tearing us apart” is so so so true. I know personally, being a women that being “beautiful” or “perfect” is such an unreachable goal yet this is what we strive for (in my opinion). I feel like your essay was honestly a real eye opener to me, and I realize now that I should just be happy with being me and not trying to be what media tells me is beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing!!

    -Haley

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