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Defining Beauty - Essay Example

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While today’s society envisions the beautiful as something in the order of Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan, statuary evidence from the Paleolithic era indicates that people’s definition of beautiful might have been closer to the obese proportions of the Venus of Willendorf. …
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Defining Beauty
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Download file to see previous pages While beauty might have once been truly ‘in the eye of the beholder’, today’s society has beauty defined for it by the overwhelming challenges of the mass media. These messages of the media are so consistent they overwhelm any natural sense of beauty, which is important to our sense of identity and social value.
Throughout the history of mankind, humans have projected who and what they are, including their relative social position, through their outward appearance. Study after study has demonstrated people dress a certain way and strive to acquire specific items as a means of signifying that they belong to a particular desirable subset of individuals who also embody their individual ideals (Gilman, 1999). Regardless of whether one has always been a part of this subset or not, it is presumed that an outer appearance in keeping with this group will automatically purchase the coveted membership. In the past few centuries, however, the standard definition for female beauty has had detrimental effects on the feminine identity. “Women view their bodies as ‘objects of work’ requiring attention and upkeep in order to operate well and promote the desired effect” (Gillen, 2001). ...
“Research in the UK suggests that the wealthier we are, the more likely we are to dislike our body. Experts think there’s more pressure on the wealthy to achieve the thin 'ideal' because they have the money to do so and are more exposed to media images” (Rebecca, 2006). Because the wealthy are expected to be able to achieve this ideal, those who are not so wealthy often struggle to attain the beauty ideal as a means of signifying that they belong within the ranks of the wealthy. Within the past few years, televisions have been inundated with so-called ‘make-over’ shows in which the focus is precisely for the media to inform the public regarding what is considered beautiful or desirable. These shows promise an improved exterior facade to participants’ bodies, fashion sense, faces, homes, lifestyles, etc. that will bring the individual into closer similarity to the ideal image and thus make it possible for them to achieve a higher level of happiness. This ‘ideal’ image is usually envisioned as someone in their mid-20s, slender almost to the point of skeletal, with specific body measurements at the bust and hips and a specific ‘good-looking’ charm that usually includes blonde hair and a friendly demeanor. This limited view of the ideal obviously eliminates anyone who might have been born with larger bones or other ‘defects’ that resist the reshaping of the plastic surgeon’s scalpel from being accepted into the socially acceptable. Makeovers on TV illustrate the unacceptable qualities of the average individual and emphasize the importance of bringing the individual image more in line with a perceived social ideal that is communicated through the same media channel. It is thus perceived that the only way for individuals to find ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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