Who doesn’t want to be perceived as attractive?
I, like many girls, have conformed to the pursuit of perfection. Girls want to be attractive. However, it is imperative that girls recognize what real beauty is.
As the Miss Representation’s website states, “[we live] in a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.”
By questioning whether what you are doing to your body is for you or the person or group of people you are trying to attract helps to draw the line that allows you to grow and feel comfortable in your skin.
The prevalence in our culture of pictures of women that have been Photoshopped to perfection creates unattainable goals. The expectation of flawlessness has risen to a point where even the people we believe to be perfect no longer fit the quota. Not even the models and celebrities we see on billboards and ads can achieve this skewed view of beauty.
We are victims of a media that promotes a beauty that does not exist. When girls see images such as this Photoshopped image of Angelina Jolie they believe that it is based on reality and measure themselves against this unattainable level of perfection.
What is beauty if Angelina Jolie, considered one of the most attractive women in the world, still gets Photoshopped? Where should the lines be drawn? Is it okay to Photoshop a blemish? A mole? Does even the slightest change of an image send a message to the world?
If you have to make something unnatural, which is what Photoshop does, than you are sending a message to society that for you to be beautiful you have to remove this or change that about yourself.
It has come to the point where almost all photos you see in magazines or billboards have been photoshopped to “perfection.” Ms. is one magazine that takes a stand against this and instead provides images and ideas that are more powerful than photoshopped, half-naked women.
We the people can change what the media creates. The media’s goal is to make money, so what we buy influences what the media keeps providing. If we want to see turtles in dresses than that is what the media will show us. A unified group can demand change.
We have to insist on a world that promotes healthy, beautiful, intelligent, and inspired women instead of demeaning women by holding up perfect yet false images. The documentary Miss Representation makes the case about how we must leave a world that is better and safer for future generations. It is the same dream that Gloria Steinem began fighting for more than 50 years ago.
The beauty culture in today’s society promotes a very specific type of beauty: gorgeous hair; thin body; perfect skin; tall, high cheek bones; full lips; a “cute” nose; small ears; long thin fingers; almond shaped nails; a round full buttocks; and perky large breasts. This image of beauty is imprinted on the minds of young girls and they, in turn, view their own self-image through the lens of this commercial standard.
By looking at these photoshopped images that represent what is thought of as perfection, we end up holding ourselves and others to this unattainable standard. We create the expectation that for a woman to be beautiful, she has to be flawless. Individuality becomes a negative instead of a positive.
How do we solve the dangerous problem of plastic ideals of beauty? We have to be educated and be able to identify different types of media manipulation. We have to think critically about how stereotypes about femininity and masculinity limit girls and boys, women and men.
We have to examine the impact media has on a woman’s ability to be seen as a leader and obtain a leadership position. We have to understand how behind the scenes, decisions affect the way gender is represented in media and impact our culture. And we have to become engaged in efforts to influence positive change in the media and advertising industries. These are the steps that Miss Representation teaches.
We have to solve these problems collectively; not just me, not you, but us. It is a matter of realizing we can make a difference and act upon it. Together we can affect real change and provide a future to be proud to pass on.
Without coming together as a group and fighting for what we believe in despite our different lenses, we will never see change. It is a matter of recognizing our strengths and building off the thousands of others around us. Deciding that your voice matters and making it heard is the first step, but then standing next to a group of people and having all of your voices matter is where the change will be seen.