Saturday, June 28, 2008

Face Value

Over the decades there has been a standard of the ideal woman and now, with the help of the media, we are beat over the head with this idea of “beauty”. And because of that our subconscious is invaded and we are overwhelmed with the feelings of shame and inadequacy. It started off with our beloved Barbie, a slender, white, blue-eyed female with unrealistic curves and a disproportionate bust. If she were a real person, the original Barbie doll's measurements would have been an incredible 39-18-33. Her tiny waist and width of her back would allow insufficient leverage to withstand the weight of her bust. I don’t know anyone who fits that mold, and, according to research conducted by UCLA health department, this physique is impossible to obtain let alone maintain. Initially, Barbie was supposed to be an inspirational figure, used to represent equality and to enforce the idea that girls could be whatever they wanted. However, recently Barbie's presence in the life of an American girl has been said to be a negative influence. Many groups say that young girls may set the doll as their model, leading to issues with body image and gender role insercurities later in life. Now, it is only human nature for one to take a greater liking to beauty; things that are pleasing to the eye, but, when we say someone is beautiful what exactly do we mean? Are we talking about full lips and a high cheek bone, or spaced eyes and a sharp jaw line? Everytime I open my mouth to profess someone else's beauty I ponder this. I dont know exaclty what makes them beautiful to me, or what makes me feel less beautiful than them, but I do know that I’m not the only one feeling this way. Millions of girls in the United States today face the dilemma of being held to unrealistic standard.

In March of 2006 I had a revelation. As a nation we are not being exposed to a plethora of beauty. As I sat on my flimsy cot of a bed in my dorm room I flipped through the pages of an old Seventeen magazine. I sat there for a moment, eyes glazed over, letting the artificial fluff of make-up, and fingernail polish and lip gloss take me over; “Be silky, sexy, and brilliant” they say. Everywhere I looked there were “self improvement” tips, guidelines, information, instructions, commands, orders. I felt like I was being pressured into being someone I wasn’t. I began to feel anxious and insecure as I stared at perfect figures that lay before me. What I was mostly bothered by was that not only were these girls supposedly “perfect” but, they were nothing like me. I couldn’t compare myself to them in any way. They were petite white females while I am a robust African American woman. I was bombarded with images of everything that I wasn’t, and it sucked. If I could only compare myself to someone who was more like me I could find more comfort. I was so turned off and disgusted after seeing this was uncompelled to purchase anything I saw thereafter.

In most best selling magazines other races beauty is not emphasized. When I flipped through the pages of the magazine, I rarely saw Black, Asian, or Latina women as a symbol of beauty. Now I’m sure that this is not always the case, but their presence in this magazine and several others I hurriedly flipped through afterward were obviously absent. Whenever there was a beautiful person of color shown they were usually included with a group of multicultural women, and even then a white female was almost always the central figure.
I am trying to make two points here. I want to see more realistic depiction of our women today, and, a more diverse selection of models. These models are supposed to be relatable to us. Others agree that people don’t want to see the average everyday female and these models give of something to aspire to. Ok, this may be true, but I also know that for a person to see themselves buying the product being advertised, they have to relate to the model in some way. Advertisers know this, which baffles me. It’s unethical for them to sell us this. Personally, when I see commercials and advertisements in a magazine, I say to myself, “I can’t relate to her, so why would I buy it?” I want young and older females everywhere to wake and smell the coffee. We are being sold something that isn’t real. We are being sold one image, an unreal one at that. This world is so diverse. We are short, tall, bald, freckled and fat, and it’s time that we are seen. Its time for a revolution. I believe its time that we not only acknowledge that beauty exists in us all, but that it exists in everything.

This change has to start with us however. It starts at home, with parents encouraging there young daughters to love their bodies, to embraces their differences. We have to know that there is beauty in other things. Once we realize that there are so many more faces of beauty and through that learn to love ourselves, we can move towards loving and embracing others.

1 comment:

Mike Valentino said...

"Fat, freckled and Pissed Off" would be my title of choice. I loved it. I think you might have inspired me to scribble a little something. Be cool.