Globalizing Beauty

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Annotated Bibliography | Other Topics | Syllabus

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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Annotated Bibliography

Africa Uncovered - Mauritania: Fat or Fiction - 11 Aug 08 - Part 1. YouTube. 12 Aug. 2008. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.
The video clip used in the project shows how Mauritania women take pride for being curvier and what common Westerners would regard as fat.  In this area of Africa big is considered beautiful.  The Mauritanian culture celebrates overweight women however force feed girls to “fatten” them up for marriage, a process called gavage. 

Buncombe, Andrew. "Skin-whitening Adverts Ignite Race Row in India - Asia, World - The Independent." The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide News | Newspaper. 10 July 2008. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.
Buncombe describes how skin lighteners in India, and the use of Bollywood stars to advertise for the products.  The companies advertise their products in efforts to “improve your complexion.” 

Casanova Erynn. “No Ugly Women”:Concepts of Race and Beauty among Adolescent Women in Ecuador.  Gender and Society.  Vol. 18, No.3 (June., 2004), pp. 287-308.  Sage Publications.  JSTOR.  Web.  27 April 2011.
Casanova’s article No Ugly Women exposes how the Latina body is idealized and rapidly commodified and objectified in popular and global culture.  The young women perceive two ideals of beauty, the white ideal as well as the Latina ideal. 
Fair and Lovely Skin Cream Ad (in English). YouTube. 9 Apr. 2007. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.
This video is described in the Buncombe article, about skin lighteners in India.  Similar to the other skin lightener video clips and articles that were researched, this clip shows how because the women is fair, she will have an education, get a better job along with the man and car of her dreams. 

Feng, Charles.  “Looking Good: The Psychology and Biology of Beauty” Dec. 2002.  Web. 8 Feb. 2011.  
Feng questions if beauty is a concept of science.  He describes facial features that are preferable for men and women.  He describes that Western males prefer a smaller jaw, small nose, large eyes and defined cheekbones.  He describes how women prefer more masculine features in a male.

Fink, B and N, Neave. “The biology of facial beauty.”  International Journal of Cosmetic Science 27.6 (2005):317-325 Academic Search Complete. EBSCO Web.  10 Mar. 2011.
Fink and Neave’s article describes that people’s views of facial attractiveness are consistent.  The article agrees with the previous article in that females are viewed as more attractive if they have large eyes. 

Lijtmaer, Ruth. “The Beauty and the Beast Inside: The American Beauty—Does Cosmetic Surgery help?” Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysic & Dynamic Psychiatry 38, 2, pp.203-17, Academic Search Complete EBSCO Web. 11 Mar 2011.
Lijtmaer’s article describes different ethnicities and their pressures to change themselves to appear more beautiful, or white.  The article describes that black women have a higher self confidence than other stigmatized groups.  Asian women are more likely to negative self-evaluations of themselves by mainstream beauty standards.  Mexican women are more susceptible to the influence of white American beauty ideal in the development of body image disturbance. 

Media, New America.  “Are Asians Increasingly Undergoing Plastic Surgery to Look White?”  AlterNet.  Web.  10 Mar. 2011.
This article explains that more and more Asians are routinely going through plastic surgery to make their eyes more round and to appear a double eyelid.  It is explained that plastic surgeons are working with the Anglo-Saxon ideal of beauty in which big eyes and a roman nose are essential for attractiveness.  Plastic surgeons begin to develop techniques to preserve ethnic characteristics and retain their ethnic identity called ethnic creativeness. 

Moeran, Brian.  “The Portrayal of Beauty in Women’s Fashion Magazines.” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture 14.4 (2010): 491-510.  Academic Search Complete EBSCO Web. 11 Mar 2011.
Moeran’s article describes how magazines tell women what is beautiful and what features that are important to be attractive in society.  Women’s faces must look young, have a glow and be flawless.  He describes the importance of big dramatic eyes that are expressive and sensual. 

Nose, A.  “Worldwide Plastic Surgery Statistics Are In- And the US Wins by a Nose!”  Science 2.0. Web 06. Mar. 2011.
This webpage shows statistics of most popular plastic surgeries worldwide.  The top three countries in the world to receive plastic surgery are the United States, China and Brazil. 

QiangQiang With/without Makeup Looks (w/Eng Sub). YouTube. 15 Apr. 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.
This is a clip from a reality show in Taiwan, which shows women putting make up on and exemplifying the difference of before make up and without.  The subtitles show that the hosts say the girls look scary without makeup on.  When the girls have makeup on they can’t believe how beautiful they look, the self confidence of these girls are totally reliant on the power of makeup. 

Sidner, Sara.  “Skin Whitener Advertisements Labeled Racist- CNN.”  Featured Articles from CNN.  09 Sept. 2009.  Web.  06 Feb. 2011.
Nivea skin whitener products are labeled as racist because of their commercials aimed towards men in Pakistan and India.  The main point of the commercial is to get whiter skin, and by achieving whiter skin the man gets his dream job, nice car and a beautiful woman. 

Stewart, Dodai. Jezebel: Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing. 19 Nov. 2009. Web. 26 Apr. 2011!5408518/tyra-banks-sorta-apologizes-for-blackface-photoshoot.
Tyra Banks is critiqued for once again changing the models ethnicity in a photo shoot, she has also changed model’s ethnicities two times prior to season 12.  Tyra’s specialists used the power of makeup to transform the models.  The models were transformed to look Hawaiian, or Hana.  The question the article raises is that, “do these fashion shoots challenge the construct of race for both models and their audiences, or do they simply reduce race to a costume?” 

Team Members: Jenna Brydges, Kristin Cavanaugh, Shoshana Jacobs, Audra Jornov, Natalie Mannarino, and Amalia Rhines.