Exploring Beauty Ideals
by Mimi Rhines
Our group explored the Globalization of Beauty by focusing on different beauty ideals from around the world. We tried to answer the questions, “how do we decide what is considered beautiful?” and “where do we get our beauty ideals?” In order to thoroughly answer these questions, we decided to cover three central themes.
The first theme deals with the different factors that influence global beauty ideals. These factors include nature, the western world, men, media, and advertisements.
Beauty is no longer in the eye of the beholder. It is no longer arbitrary. Nature no longer decides what is and is not beautiful. In the 21st century, it is up to the western world, men, media, and advertisements.
The western world seems to have a major influence on beauty in the rest of the world. We see this through women of other countries trying to lighten their skin or straighten their hair.
We also tend to get our beauty ideals from men, who want fair-skinned, lean women with big breasts and beautiful facial features. Women these days are pressured by impossible standards set by men.
The final two factors that influence global beauty ideals, media and advertisements, go somewhat hand in hand. Both tell women that they should look a certain way, either by going under the knife or by purchasing products to alter their appearance. For instance, the TV show ‘Bridalplasty’ shows women getting nose jobs and liposuction in order to appear beautiful on their big day. These women probably got their idea of beauty from other forms of media, like advertisements, which show top models selling products that will make a woman more beautiful.
The second theme mentioned discusses the lengths that women go through in order to achieve their version of the ‘ideal beauty.’ This can be by undergoing different plastic surgeries or even by purchasing certain products. Nowadays, women buy everything from skin-lighting creams to real human hair in order to be beautiful. And if that wasn’t enough, they go under the knife to achieve their ideal physical appearance.
Racism plays a role in this theme as well. Women who buy skin-lighting products are trying to look white because that is what they see as beautiful, that is what men see as beautiful, and that is what advertisements and media tell them is beautiful.
The third and final major theme discusses the oppression that women face in the beauty industry. This oppression can come in many forms, but two of the most prominent are sweatshops and nail salon trafficking. Our Googlemap illustrates different sweatshops around the world, including Hanes, Barbie, and fake handbag sweatshops. It also shows the ever so popular nail salon in America and the oppression faced by its workers.
Overall, we wanted to illustrate the different perceptions of beauty around the globe. We focused on three central themes: factors that influence global beauty ideals, lengths that women go to in order to achieve these ideals, and the oppression that women face in the beauty industry. By exploring these themes, we were able to answer the questions, “how do we decide what is considered beautiful?” and “where do we get our beauty ideals?” We came to the conclusion that we all play a part in the persistence of these beauty ideals.
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