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The Media: Creator of an Unattainable Ideal Beauty

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Carmen Chan

on 3 June 2013

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Transcript of The Media: Creator of an Unattainable Ideal Beauty

By Carmen Chan Media: The Creator of an Unattainable Beauty Ideal Media is a very prevalent and powerful force that has the ability to control our thoughts and behaviours. We are constantly surrounded and bombarded with its many messages of ways to attain the perfect body, complexion, skin color, hair texture and the list goes on. The presence of these good-looking individuals in the media leads to Marxism, where everything revolves around the profit motive. Organizations are motivated to make individuals feel like they will be better off with the newest car, best foundation and luxury purse so people will buy into this consumerism on the pursuance of the “ideal” appearance and social status level. References Beauty Pressure. Film. 2 Dec 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei6JvK0W60I>.

Dove Evolution. Film. 2 Dec 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U>.

Goldman, William, and Philip Lewin. "Journal of Experimental Social Psychology." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 13.2 (1977): 125-130. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.

Johnson, Caitlin . (2009): n. page. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. <http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-2015684.html>.

Kia Optima A Dream Car for Real Life. 2012. Filmstrip. 3 Dec 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LBXZenYiTck>.

Ott, B. L., & Mack, R. L. (2009). Critical Media Studies: An Introduction. (1 ed., pp. 47-71). Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Video Component men with rock hard abs to .. busty women with narrow waists and this “becomes a way that we understand the cultural rules surrounding what it means to be masculine or feminine” (Ott & Mack, 177) and therefore set a standard for our appearance and how it should resemble those presented in the media. No matter where you are, you will constantly face a plethora of advertisements and an average person can see up to 5,000 marketing messages a day (Walker-Smith, Cutting Through Advertising Clutter). This is an increase of 1000% since the 1970’s and the majority of advertising presents a consistent and similar underlying message: to motivate one to improve their appearance or wellbeing. Although beauty has changed over the years, beauty standards still continue to control women today. Due to the high frequency of these advertisements, these messages become deeply engrained into our minds and hold a strong persuasive power. In this essay, I will explore a Kia commercial where women are positioned as beautiful beings and objects of pleasure while men are defined by their “power, significance, agency and social influence” (Ott & Mack, 182). Through my analysis, I have uncovered that genders are unequally portrayed in the media which lead to real life implications. This is an important issue to analyze since the constant media exploitation is causing people to lose sight of reality. Our society has been exposed to an unnatural computer generated
standard of flawless beauty causing individuals to become increasing vain and obsessed with their appearance. Some may even take extreme measures such as plastic surgery to change how they look. We have all been convinced that “the quality of ‘beauty’ objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men must want to possess women who embody it” (Ott & Mack, 187). The media has put an immensely strong emphasis on how important it is to be beautiful and when combined with positioning women as beautiful meek beings who are a source of pleasure, the female gender is placed at a disadvantage. It carefullly frames women as if their sole purpose is to serve men by looking good and providing pleasure, much like how a car provides a similar feeling. This way, women are seen as objects rather than an equal to men “resulting in discriminatory social systems that privilege men over women” (Ott & Mack, 177) which devalue women to serve the interests of men. This causes more women to believe that if they are physically more attractive then they will be more valued by men. These women are positioned to by "consumed visually by audiences both inside and outside of the actual film" (Ott & Mack, 164) who women desire to be and men desire to obtain. We must not be fooled to believe that beauty is a single defined mold but to be aware that the "beauty" we often see is a manufactured ideal appearance crafted by the media. Both women and men do not need to resemble those individuals on the front of magazine covers in order to be considered appealing. Attractiveness is subjective and is absolutely not a rigid model that one must fit into. There are many variations of attractiveness including features such as ... being tall, having freckles, button nose, thick eyebrows and much more. It is unhealthy for anyone to go through these negative repercussions of low self-esteem and unhappiness when comparing themselves to those presented in the lime light because the ideal they are trying to reach is not real and therefore unattainable. Individuals must be intelligent recipients of media material and strides towards educating and bringing awareness to the power and manipulation that media has is necessary. In addition, changing society’s definition of beauty is essential because being beautiful is not a single definitive standard. Beauty should not be defined by the media or what we see in magazines... beauty is happiness held within.. and everyone is beautiful to someone. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... Take a look at a photo which turned from this... to this. This is not real.. people should not chase after this altered "beauty ideal". Finally, towards the end of the commercial the main male character wins the girl over another male who is on a horse. Lets see what the expert has to say.. The horse can be seen as a less
desirable mode of transportation. This communicates to female viewers that if you would like to attract a successful man with a nice car that you must be attractive and men must drive nice cars to be able to get these women. Although the video ends off with the statement.. I feel that it is a better description if reworded as.... since this car is relatively attainable but the likelihood of someone being able to drive on a race track and have several immensely attractive girls screaming for you is highly unlikely. Commercials similar to this one are what causes people to become insecure since it is posed as what reality is instead of a media reality blurred into real life. Both men and women become dissatisfied with their appearance when they constantly see air brushed celebrities on the cover of magazines or in other forms of media. The media creates an unrealistic ideal of a man or woman whose appearance is altered and a result of many hours of airbrushing and Photoshop work. The truth is that the appearance of the person shown is not a correct representation of how they look like in reality. The media takes extra care in making sure that individual shown is nothing short of perfect. Lets take a look at the extent of what can be done. After viewing this video, it is no wonder that our perception of beauty is distorted and skewed. It is dangerous when we fail to realize that those on the cover of magazines are simply products of PhotoShop, airbrushing, makeup artists and hair stylists. When we lose this perception, we will become lost on a quest for an unattainable and unrealistic appearance. Both men and especially women are disempowered from products of the media. The media neglects to show the average woman and there are deep rooted issues that result from this purposeful exclusion such as lowered self-esteem, eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia, social acceptance and even bullying. Not only are we convinced to look a certain way but men and women are trained to act a certain manners also. A simple act can be termed something very different depending on if it is done by a man or a woman. For example, if a man were to have multiple partners he would be called names that come with a positive connotation such as player or pimp but if a female were to do the same thing, the names she would be labeled with have a much more negative connotation such as slut and whore. There are norms within the society that we must conform to dependent on our gender enabling us to fit in and be accepted. Many people experience “body dysmorphia as a result of mediated sexist stereotypes” (Ott & Mack, 182) or depression since they are unhappy
with their appearance. Being good looking not only helps you more easily find a future partner but it also has many social implications. Studies have shown people who are “physically attractive were judged to have more desirable traits and lead happier, more successful lives than the unattractive” (Goldman, and Lewin 125-130). The media “gives us an impression about the world and how we should live in it” (Ott & Mack, 191). We are all performing roles set out to us by the media and society including items such as pressures on men to become the breadwinner for their household. As recipients of these images, we start to believe that these people are naturally beautiful and attractive but the creation of this distorted perception puts us into a vicious cycle of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. We become dupes of the media as regular people idolizing Hollywood stars. SO WHAT? We also start to develop these expectations for the opposite gender and strive to find a partner that resembles the handsome guy on magazine covers or the perfect boyfriend quite often shown in media. Media blurs reality causing people to be on a constant search for perfection within themselves and in a partner. The media creates realities that are so real that we can no longer differentiate between what is real and what is not. Beautiful and immensely attractive people in the media live in the lime light with lavish lifestyles which cause regular people to believe that they are not good enough. Individuals start viewing these expectations as norms and strive to achieve these “norms” as an attempt to reach perfection. The media also very carefully encodes the message that beautiful people live better lives leaving very little semiotic excess to effectively communicate a single strong message which controls our thoughts. This video clip shows how we are bombarded with messages of how to become attractive. We regularly see images of.. This video clip shows how we are bombarded with messages of how to become attractive.
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