Girls. I’ve been thinking a lot recently (shock, horror!) about the ‘beauty standard’ displayed by the media for women to follow. It scares me. It leaked into my dissertation and become a profound piece of research that I don’t see talked about that much….
I really want to share a few things with you!
The definition of beauty is actually much unknown: there is no external voice or authority to state what is objectively beautiful.
The dictionary says: ‘beauty’ is “a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight”
This means it’s dependent on personal taste. BUT, who’s taste? The answer to this question is filled by our culture: magazine covers, advertising campaigns, internet searches or social media influencers and it’s having a scary effect!!
The results from the GirlGuiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2016 reinforces the idea that our culture fills this void, with girls declaring that, “the media is a major force in shaping the culture that girls live in” and that advertisements show that “our media culture mainly chooses women’s sexualized bodies to sell products”. Also, through social media, “girls are scrutinizing each other’s bodies and competing…to validate their physical attractiveness”.
We see the shift from beauty as a ‘quality’ to ‘competition’.Just look at Cosmopolitan’s August 2016 cover:
It ties together the words ‘seductive’ and ‘beauty’ – frightening – it’s saying that the two go hand in hand!! ‘Beauty’ has shifted from a quality, to competition, to a weapon.
PLUS: It only takes a brief glance at those rated ‘Instafamous’ to see a lot of bare skin seductivity.
It could be argued that the objectification in the media has shifted into women objectifying themselves through their social media accounts in order to gain and build their value.
I can’t hack it anymore. This is becoming popular and normal and, personally, I struggle with it. It seems to say --- in some cases --- that there is beauty in sexiness, seduction and provocativeness.
I am inclined to say the following;
GIRLS/WOMEN, THERE IS NOT.
BOYS/MEN – THERE IS NOT. The women given airtime on Sky Sports and/or FHM etc. are not the definition of ‘beauty’ and ‘normality’: these things aren’t determined by skin exposure and seductivity. Don't rate girls based on that.
Let me tell you about two conflicting diary entries by girls, from ‘The Body Project’ (by Joan Jacob Brumberg):
Before World War I - girls rarely mentioned their bodies in terms of strategies for self-improvement or struggles for personal identity. Becoming a better person meant paying less attention to the self, giving more assistance to others.
21st century - ‘I will try to make myself better in any way I possibly can…I will lose weight, get new lenses, already got a new haircut, good make-up, new clothes and accessories’.
Why have we moved from internal, selfless character to outward, self-obsessed behaviour?What happened to beauty being a QUALITY? What happened to beauty being more than just what meets the eye? What happened to cultivating our character? What happened to turning heads because of the beauty of our character, not the seductivity of our pose?
Now, I really don't want you to think I'm moaning, nagging or over-exaggerating. I just want to challenge and question what society is so nonchalantly pointing towards as the norm.
By all means, I encourage you to come to your own conclusion.
I encourage you to build a picture about what 'BEAUTY' means to you.
I'll keep you posted.