Every day young girls and women are bombarded with unrealistic media representations of women. Advertisements, Miss America contests, television shows, and movies are all responsible for the low self-esteem that many women face today. In media, ‘beautiful’ women are depicted as being thin, perfect skinned, and big-breasted. The reality is, many women are not skinny, do not have flawless skin, and are not big-breasted. Since they do not fit these ‘ideal’ images of beauty, many women believe they are not beautiful and do not appeal to men. This article will dispose of these media beliefs about beauty by discussing what beauty really is, how ideas of beauty differ around the world, and what men really think about beauty.
As many people know, there are two types of beauty; outer beauty and inner beauty. Outward beauty, or physical attractiveness, is the type of beauty-focused on most by the media. Unfortunately, media takes most physical attributes to the extreme. ‘Beautiful’ women in the media have perfect skin, perfect bodies, and the perfect weight, leaving women in the real world feeling insecure and undesirable. Unfortunately, media cannot be ignored. It is everywhere. It is on television, on the radio, in the movies, in ads, and even in children’s toys. This is why we must begin to emphasize the importance of inner beauty to young girls and women. Inner beauty, often ignored in media representations, includes psychological factors such as personality, intelligence, politeness, and personal charisma. Rather than focusing on unobtainable physical characteristics, young women should be focusing on attainable inner beauty.
Easier said than done, right? In today’s society, the pressure of a woman to be beautiful is stronger than ever. Unfortunately, most women are not focusing on inner beauty as they should be. So, for those women, here are two suggestions. The first is to ignore media representations. There are very few women in the world who actually fit the profile of a woman in the media. Even the women who have made it to television are often edited and airbrushed to look the way they do.
The second point to establish is that ideas of beauty are forever changing. Beauty changes from time to time and from place to place. What is beautiful to one person is not attractive to another. For example, in Western cultures, extra-long necks may not be considered a beautiful trait. However, the Kayan tribe of Thailand believes that elongated necks represent ideal beauty. They are so infatuated with the idea of long necks that the women actually wear brass rings around their necks to help give them an elongated appearance. This shows how different cultures have different ideas of beauty. The same is true for other people within the same cultures. What is beautiful to one American man may not be attractive to another.