Thursday, September 30, 2010

Universal Standard of Beauty

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

The topic in class that sparked my attention was when the topic of Universal Motives were discussed. One of the categories was Aesthetics, "standards of beauty" and I wanted to expand more on the topic and discuss society's standard of beauty.

The mass media is the number one influence on our socialization and body image. People are buying products to look and be considered beautiful or handsome. The advertising industry thrives on images of youthfulness and thinness and this substantially affects the standards of beauty for the American culture. Having clear skin, and a hairless body is also considered beautiful for a woman. Many females depicted on television or in fashion magazines cannot be compared to the average American woman. The primary reason being is that most of the images portrayed are fixed up or photo-shopped to exude more beauty that is often unnatural.

The mass media has a profound effect on socialization processes. It displays these feminine beauty ideals and causes many women to have low-self esteem and a negative body image. Women especially are learning from the media and their environment that this is what characterizes beauty and they strive to fulfill these ideals of beauty, even taking drastic measures to do so. Women are less satisfied with their body image, and believe they are unattractive because they are constantly comparing themselves to unrealistic images. Another effect that this has on women is that they develop unhealthy eating habits or eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, because they wish to fulfill society's expectations of beauty. Many women are seeking to obtain a body image that is just unattainable and unhealthy. The motive for many women is to appear physically and sexually attractive to men.

Although over the decades this has changed, young, thin, white women used to be considered the beauty ideal in Western culture. Even in Disney Movies such as "Snow White" and "Cinderella", these ideals were enforced. The most popular doll was "Barbie", who was a white, thin, and blonde-hair blue-eyed woman. The contour and body shape of Barbie is a thin waist hour glass frame, with big breasts. From a young age this is what was instilled in the minds of young girls. Their value was based on society's imposed physical standards of beauty. Their physical appearance was seen as the most important thing beyond anything else.

This is a quote from the book, "The Beauty Myth", by Naomi Wolf
"The quality called 'beauty' objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men must want to possess women who embody it. This embodiment is an imperative for women but not for men, which is necessary and natural because it is biological, sexual, and evolutionary. Strong men battle for beautiful women and beautiful women are more reproducibly successful, and since this system is based on natural selection it is inevitable and changeless".

I agree with Naomi Wolf, that men are striving to get that beautiful woman. In my opinion, when choosing a mate, men are looking for those attractive physical traits, believing that these women will have good health and have good attributes of fertility. It is an innate biological attraction.

Below is a clip about Gender, Sexualization, and the Unrealistic Standards of Beauty

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