The industry bombards women: “The reshaped bodies, the smoothed out wrinkles, all there is to alter is your mind, to alter your perception of what physical beauty is” (Not Just a Pretty Face, Malkan). Society feeds women with idealities of false perfection and forces concepts of unattainable attraction on the population as a whole. In the midst of the media’s selfish desires, standardization becomes the enemy of diversity and the media becomes the enemy of pulchritude.
Exposing the population to insular perspectives of beauty can have particularly destructive effects on adolescent females. According to the Park Nicollet Melrose Center, about 53% of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies and that number surges to 78% by the age of 17. The National Eating Disorders Association confirmed that 70% of girls as young as 6-years-old want to be thinner. According to An Introduction to Applied Cognitive Psychology, availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on proximate examples that come to a person’s mind when appraising a specific topic. It operates on the fact that if something can be recollected then it must be important—or the only option. The average child matures over 18 to 20 years, and while they are developing, the concept of availability heuristic is a key element in the way they perceive information. Younger generations are growing up in societies that crave power over every aspect of human life—even something as personal as one’s perception of pulchritude. Because young girls are being exposed to a society that dehumanizes women, self-objectification is becoming a wide spread epidemic.
Somewhere along the lines, someone needs to argue the importance of autonomous philosophies. Somewhere between beauty pageants and university lecture halls, people should be expected to think for themselves and embark on paths to self-realization no matter the obstacle. The population is used to comparing themselves to airbrushed images in magazines that confirm their worst fears. People would rather contend to the idea that “Beauty ensnares hearts, captures minds, and stirs up emotional wildfires”, but when Aristotle said that, he did not realize that descriptions of flawless beauty have since catered to a limitless desire of the ideal human form. Anyone can argue that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, but defined this way, beauty is meaningless and shallow at best. In The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf disregarded centuries of objectification when she claimed that beauty is dispassionate and universal entity does not exist. Intellectuals argue that beauty is inconsequential and because it cannot be learned from, it should be disregarded. So of course now people are expected to breathe a sigh of relief, because after all, the concept of beauty is a tasteless joke. They can’t though, because there is still something dissonantly incorrect with the picture; outside the realm of ideas, beauty still predominates. Appearance is still the most public part of the self: it exists as a sacrament, what the world assumes to be the mirror of one’s inner self. The consequences of beauty cannot simply be erased by denial, because beauty, no matter the latter, will continue to operate in the lawless world of human attraction. Academics can ban the idea of physical beauty from intelligent dissertation, and similarly, others can claim that it is slight and superficial, but either way, the beauty myth will continue to force us to accept reality. With the ongoing pursuit of an unflawed civilization, the media is forcing many females, adult and adolescent, into believing that beauty is simply what they say it is.
Nowadays, women are being targeted by calumnious societies who storm them with contravening theories of allure for them to ingest and pour into the generations that have not yet had a chance to define attraction for themselves. Nevertheless, the media continues to endorse their besmirched principles, leaving the society to buy into their grossly imperfect depiction. Forty years ago, when feminists threw their bras into the “Freedom Trash Can” outside the 1968 Miss America pageant, it was to protest the idea that women had become ‘enslaved by ludicrous beauty standards,’ and they were right; the quest for beauty may be a century old obsession, but in the present day, it’s not women who are ugly, it’s reality. Sociocultural standards of beauty have more of an influence than ever, and not just in how people see themselves, but if they see themselves at all.
Baker, Kevin, Corriene Reed, David Heathcote, Moira Maguire, and Richard Kemp. An Introduction of Applied Cognitive Psychology. Psychology, 2005. Print.
Gallivan, Heather R. “Teens, Social Media And Body Image.” Macmh.org. Park Nicollet Melrose Center. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Malkan, Stacy. Not Just a Pretty Face. 1st ed. New Society, 2007. 192. Print.
Sedar, Kasey L. “Female Body Image and the Mass Media: Perspectives on How Women Internalize the Ideal Beauty Standard.” WestminsterCollege.edu. n.p. n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women. Harper Perennial; Reprint Edition, 2002. 368. Print.