How Do You Define Beauty?

10 Nov

Picture you are walking down a city street and you see a billboard that catches your eye to the right. You look over and see a tan, skinny leg with a red pump on the end of it. Then you notice there is a Versace purse hanging from the leg. Then you notice that there is a girl attached to that leg, she is leaning up against a wall in the background with smoldering eyes and one finger on the side of her lip while her other hand holds another Versace purse. She is wearing a tight black skirt and a sheer white shirt that is hanging off her left shoulder enough to show her collar bone and top of her pushed up breast.

So what do you think first? ‘Wow, I really want that bag now?’, ‘Jeez, I wish I looked like her; she’s gorgeous’, or maybe even ‘Maybe if I get an outfit like that and buy that purse I will be able to look that hot’?  

Well there are a couple problems with those thoughts, especially because this girl does not exist.

 Yes there was an actual model that sat and posed for this but that model probably does not look anything like the woman did in the finished product. Her eyes, nose, eyebrows, facial structure, lips, ears and hair may have all been altered on the computer. Also, her breast may have been made to be bigger, and her frame and legs may have been made to be smaller. So out of this advertisement we get a picture of a beautiful woman who is not realistic in any way.

Jean Kilbourne decided that she wanted to challenge the way that people thought about advertising and he wanted to draw attention to the particular way that women are being advertised. She has four parts of the documentary Killing Us Softly.  In class we watched the fourth installment of Killing Us Softly.

At first I thought that I had pretty much heard all of what she was going to say. I had even seen the Dove commercial where it shows how much a company will change the model into a woman that they would want to advertise their product. Too bad that woman does not exist.

However, there are so many more subliminal and subconscious messages that we are receiving from advertisements of almost every product. I guess I did not realize how much my view of beauty was being controlled by advertisements. There are so many times that I push myself to the gym or to not take that second slice of pizza because I am scared to I will gain weight. I am constantly reminded of my size 4 clothing and I am not happy with that size. I would love to be a size two.

Why? Why is size two better than size four? What is beauty anyway? defines beauty as ‘the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color sound, etc.), a meaningful design or patter, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).’

So after that long definition, I have come to the conclusion that beauty cannot be defined. I believe that individuals need to be confident and see the beauty in themselves. I believe that everyone is beautiful because everyone is beautifully different.

Jean Kilbourne shared her thoughts of women in advertising and I completely agree with all of them. Advertisers are trying to tell us what beautiful is, even though there are many different forms of beauty. Then, as a result men start tobelieve the hype that they see in ads.

All of a sudden men see women who are blonde, skinny, white, tall, have straight hair, are in there 20s and wear expensive clothing as beautiful. Well that makes less than 1% of the population beautiful. Even though I made up that percentage there cannot be that many women out there that fit that prescription!  Also, I hope men understand that woman do not wear tinny clothing and platform shoes and perfect make-up all the time. The girls that I see walking around campus in high heeled shoes are crazy and we can all tell that they are struggling.

Those girls should not feel like they have to wear those high heels to feel attractive and sexy.

This culture is ripping woman apart and making them feel bad about themselves no matter what they do. Women are reaching towards an impossible standard. Eating disorders have increased in women because of all the advertisements they are exposed to.  Women are embarrassed to eat in front of people.

How is a normal human necessity embarrassing? Even as I ask that question I remember numerous times when I got a salad or a small portion of food if I was eating with a guy. Yet, the guy can fill up his plate and then go back for seconds and thirds and it does not seem weird.

That double standard is unfair and puts woman at a disadvantage to almost everything. Women are constantly being judged on how they look. Women are constantly being seen as objects. Women are constantly being put down for not taking more time to get ready in the morning to look ‘presentable.’ Women are constantly trying to impress men.

Jean Kilbourne also puts focus on how woman are posed in pictures. Why are woman posed to look vulnerable, weak and childlike? I do not understand why that is more attractive than other options but since the media puts it out there, we as consumers accept it.

Well I agree with Jean, it is time to stop accepting these advertisements and do something about it!

Anywhere you look you can find an advertisement that degrades women. Even on the cover of any Cosmo Magazine it talks about sex advice for women and how to be so good in bed that he will never leave you. I think these are giving the wrong impression to women, especially young girls who can pick up those magazines and read them anywhere.

Young girls are obviously vulnerable and they are set to a very high standard by society by a very young age. This is so unfair to ask of a little girl. The little kid lingerie that Jean was talking about is honestly disgusting. At a young age, they are thinking that the only way to be beautiful and appealing to a guy is to wear slinky clothing. No wonder there is a higher risk of eating disorders, suicide and pregnancy in younger and younger girls.  

I think we as woman need to stand up and challenge these advertisements. Even though there are ads with woman of different colors and ethnicities, they are not as glamorous as the other ads. I am not sure how we can stop accepting these stereotypical and judgmental roles, but there has to be a place to start.

Start sharing Jean Kilbourne’s videos with women that you know and remind everyone that they are beautiful.  Beauty cannot be found in a purse, pair of shoes, perfume or certain clothes and it can certainly not be bought at the plastic surgeons office. It astonished me that there was a 754% increase in woman getting Botox in the last ten years. Do women believe that they need to get these injections to stay beautiful?

So what do you say girls? Let’s remind everyone that they are beautiful. Let’s not impress guys with our clothing but let them be attracted to who we truly are. Let’s remind ourselves that those are not real women in those magazines.  Something that is not real cannot be beautiful. Now go look in a mirror, what you see in the mirror is real, so therefore it is beautiful.                                          



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