I believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes: large, small, round, square, triangular, trapezoidal, and all those in between. Beauty is an interpretation, so why should everyone’s be the same? Beauty is unique. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Thanks to today’s media, anyone can open a magazine and see a plethora of excessively thin, similar looking models. Women are especially subjected to this unrealistic expectation of how to dress and how to look. Modern society seems to have an obsession with looking attractive and perfect. But what is perfect? Is perfection an extremely thin, blonde-haired, straight-teethed, big-eyed, smooth-skinned model with long legs and a flat stomach? What about the people who don’t have those genes and who don’t look like that?
Sometimes they are discriminated against. This discrimination starts as early as middle school when cliques form. Perhaps people working in media are unaware that what is shown on television and in magazines can have huge effects on the lives of teenage girls. Many young girls feel pressured to look and dress a certain way. This causes them to have extremely low self-esteem when they look in the mirror and don’t see a model. These girls do not think they are beautiful because of what they see every day in the media.
There are direct and indirect consequences of the media’s portrayal of beauty. The direct consequence of beauty in an advertisement is people are more likely to purchase that product because they want to achieve the same beauty. It is a natural human behavior to want to belong to a group. An indirect consequence of beauty in the media may result in unhealthy behavior. Teenage girls striving to look like unhealthy models may turn to eating disorders or even suicide as a result of their increasingly low self-esteem. I would dissolve this universal image of beauty, because we need to teach young girls what beauty really is. We need healthy sized people in the advertisements and normal, everyday people’s beauty to be shown for what it is, unique. It’s their unique sense of style and personality that makes them beautiful and different. We need to show young people what really matters: personality and intelligence. If this expectation of beauty created by the media didn’t exist, maybe people would see that and young girls wouldn’t be ashamed to wear glasses, or have braces!
This is why I really love what Dove is doing with their new campaign and showing real beautiful women in their ads. If only more companies and designers would follow in their footsteps…
*Published in Lake Park High School’s Perspective student newspaper, 2010.