Is the Ideal Beauty Image Really Worth It?

By Allie Labrousse

There is a prolific amount of beauty content soaring through the media daily portraying the ideal body. Runway models on television, celebrities starring in televised commercials, and magazines highlighting beauty products are all means in which adolescent girls and young women are confronted daily with these images. This massive amount of beauty content, promoting ideal beauty and ideal thinness, is affecting women’s body images and behaviors.

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Every day, media including television shows, commercials, and magazines are portraying the message that beauty is necessary for a girl to be successful, obtain a career, have a boyfriend, and to be happy. Over the decades, the ideal of the ideal body image has been broadcasted across news outlets.

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Often, the media depicts the ideal beauty image as being thin, having flawless skin, and the latest trendy outfit. In today’s society, being overweight is seen as something to fix. Furthermore, the media’s portrayal of women is much thinner than the average American woman. This is even revealed in the toys that young girls play with. Here is an article showing the disproportionate measurements of Barbie if she was to be blown up to a human’s size.

In Cameron Russell’s TED talk, titled “Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe me, I’m a Model,” she discusses how insecure she has felt while being a model. She informed the audience how although she has “won the genetic lottery,” she has to constantly think about her appearance. The article highlights how even models aren’t the happiest, even though people often view them as having it all.

Websites and magazines often promote the view that beauty is a requirement and can be achieved by purchasing products. Websites containing online magazines often present the idea that girls are not okay as they are, shown through the way they discuss different parts of the appearance needed to be fixed, such as hair, eyebrows, and other parts of the body. Furthermore, the media does not convince girls to let their natural beauty shine, but to cover their face up with make-up to replicate the natural grow. Their underlying motive is to advertise to females so that they will buy their products while persuading these media consumers that it will fulfill their beauty needs.

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What many female media consumers do not realize is the technology that goes into the photographs. Most media outlets utilize impeccable models with athletic or ultra-thin physiques in addition to using airbrushing from these same models. No one can compete with these ideals, not even the model or the celebrity figure edited in the photograph. These images of perfection that supposedly portray the human ideal are employed by advertisers and are ultimately harmful to females’ body self-images.

Here is a video put on by the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, a company committed to building positive self-esteem while inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential. Most people have probably seen the video, Evolution, but it really illustrates the editing that occurs in magazines and other media outlets. It shows that even models can’t even live up to the expectations.

Social media also plays a major role in self-esteem. Some believe that having an Instagram can actually be more destructive than Facebook because it is purely looking at edited photos and can lower an individual’s self-esteem. Additionally, users of Instagram have more of a tendency to engage in social comparison and the site allows people to present themselves in a filtered way. Some people may argue that this causes people not to reveal their authentic selves, while others may think it’s just a fun way to edit pictures.

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In Jessica Winter’s article, titled, “Selfie-Loathing,” she discusses how Instagram may be even more depressing than Facebook:

“Instagram is exclusively image-driven, and images will crack your mirror.

‘You get more explicit and implicit cues of people being happy, rich, and successful from a photo than from a status update,’ says Hanna Krasnova of Humboldt University Berlin, co-author of the study on Facebook and envy. ‘A photo can very powerfully provoke immediate social comparison, and that can trigger feelings of inferiority. You don’t envy a news story.’”

Lastly, in 2013, Instagram highlighted their apps in “20 Instagram Apps to Enhance your photos and videos.” There are so many editing websites in addition to Instagram, all adding to a less authentic social media culture in my opinion.

My questions for you all are:

Do you think these editing sites, displaying people in an edited light, are harmful?

Do you prefer Facebook over Instagram or vice versa?

Do you feel influenced by images in the media? Which images most effect you?

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