“Who says, who says you’re not perfect? Who says you’re not worth it? Who says you're the only one that's hurtin'? Trust me, that's the price of beauty. Who says you're not pretty? Who says you're not beautiful? Who says? ” The Popstar, actress, and model Selena Gomez was one of the many to wonder such a thing. But really, who says? And no, I’m not talking about your elementary school crush who pulled your hair or said you were ugly. Let’s fast forward to modern day suspects: the internet, media, and society.
An article on the The Huffington Post newspaper stated: “Society has become inherently more intelligent - we can find the answer to almost anything at the click of a button. Those at the cutting-edge can now gain previously unimaginable insight into human tendencies and interests” (Purrler, 2017). Indeed, this is true Huffington Post, but you forgot to add the cons of this powerful tool that has found its way into many different cultures. Now, searching for the ideal look is not a new found thing. According to a Yale student in her article, people have chased the ideal look for centuries; alas, this look comes and goes as trends and generations do. (Yan, 2017). The difference is, now we have the internet which has grown for quite some time. Now, the growth of the internet could be viewed in a technological determinism view according to Slack and Wise. Technological determinism is the view that demonstrates that technological change is the principal determinant of cultural change (Slack, 2017). Basically, as technology changes, culture changes. Referring back to Staff’s viewpoint on how the “ideal look” changes as generations and trends do, once we add technology to increase the widespread of opinions and this then expands across the world to all different types of societies and different people with such different views and opinions… Well you can imagine the rest. This comes to the general point of societies spreading their opinions on a worldwide terrain as they set the standards of beauty and tell people who is beautiful and who is not; which then sets the newest trends. These societies include celebrities, fashion magazines, and most of the time the people who surround us on a daily basis. If you don’t follow these trends and beauty standards, you don’t make the cut of who is considered beautiful and who is not and that’s pretty much the end of it. Or is it…
You guessed it right. Maybe because there was more to read but no, that was not the end of it. There’s hope with justification of beauty standards after all! We should all be familiar with the brand Dove, you know, the soap and shampoo and super touching video ads? One of their ads called “Onslaught” starts with a small child looking into the camera and then instantly there are fast paced images flying on the screen of many different ads pertaining to beauty and standards. Some of these ads are weight loss pills and dietary supplements, or infomercials with women stating “ideal look” terms such as: smaller, thinner, and softer. The video soon ends with the words “talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does”. Dove has a mission to redefine “Real” beauty and to boost the self-esteem of people in the world to let them know that they too, are beautiful and do not have to be a part of the latest beauty trends. According to Dove, real beauty means various shapes and sizes—flaws and all—and is the key to rebranding, rebuilding women's self-esteem, and redefining beauty standards (Millard, 2009). Dove is leaving it up to the audience to determine what is beautiful. They open the minds of what the close minded have structured for the weak minded. Dove doesn’t just leave it up to the audience as a whole, but the audience as individual people; with individual opinions; and individual preferences. Dove wants to redefine beauty. Dove might have even have helped Selena Gomez write “Who Says”, hey, we never know. But they are on a good path to help reconstruct what societies from all over the world has to say who is beautiful and who is not. Now, I am not saying that Dove is going to change the beauty standards, but we need people who are out there saying that it’s okay to have different standards of beauty. We need people to help promote than and stand for that. What we do not need is to see only models who all look the same. The next time you go on an online shopping website for a big brand, notice how the models all have a certain look. That certain look of those models was not by coincidence. For those of you who might not be aware, companies and high end brands have a very particular look that they look for in the people they recruit and hire. There is an actual height requirement as well as a weight requirement. The typical height that these companies and brands look for starts at five foot seven; and those are considered to be the “short” models. The typical female and male model is ideally five foot nine and taller. This drops the modeling pool opportunity down a great deal. These are the models seen on television as well. Although, there are many actors and actresses that vary in many different appearances due to their skin color, weight, and height; this is a great start to reconstructing the beauty standards by letting people know that in some fields, it’s best if you don’t look like everyone else! An interesting thing that I have noticed is a lot of beauty standards come from Disney movies. These movies are for children. In the recent years, we have given the Disney Princesses quite the makeover (Brule, 2008). When we are young, that is when we start learning and observing everything we see. Some little girls might not have beautiful blonde hair and big blue eyes like the popular Miss Cinderella. This can be discouraging for some children because that is a look that they can never obtain. Children start seeing their body and comparing it to people who are idolized and easily looked up to. This starts shaping their very own body image (Andsager, 2014). Body image is an important thing in people from all ages. Princess Tiana was the first African American princess who emerged in 2009. This shows the children that little girls who have the same skin color as Tiana can be Princesses too. After the release of Hawaiian Disney character, Moana, it looks like Disney is on their way to help reconstruct who can be a beautiful and idolized Disney character too!
It should be reassuring to see that even though the world is corrupted with all sorts of beauty standards that define you, there are still major companies fighting against this. These companies are here to tell you that your skin color does not need to be a certain color. Your hair color can be as unique as you want it to do. Just because you are four foot eleven inches does not mean you are not model worthy. The media and society are creating more and more ways to show off their flashy opinions as the Internet continues to grow and spread far and wide. In my internet and society course, we had a thorough discussion on the spread of devices and the internet. There are still many people in this world who have no access to internet which causes a digital divide amongst them and us. The divide is slowly closing which means one day, everyone will have access to see the trends and the ideas that have been created on what you should and should not look like. If we are lucky enough to break through this judgment that society and the media has created for us, we will realize that being yourself and embracing your unique appearance isn’t so bad after all.
PR Millard, J. (June 06, 2009). Performing Beauty: Dove's “Real Beauty” Campaign. Symbolic Interaction, 32, 2, 146-168.
PR Andsager, J. L. (December 01, 2014). Research Directions in Social Media and Body Image. Sex Roles : a Journal of Research, 71, 407-413.
PR Brule, N. J. (July 01, 2008). "Sleeping Beauty Gets a Makeover": Using the Retelling of Fairytales to Create an Awareness of Hegemonic Norms and the Social Construction of Value. Communication Teacher, 22, 3, 71-75.
IC Slack, J. D., & Wise, J. M. (2015). Culture and technology: a primer. New York: Peter Lang.
IC Purrler, J. (2017, April 24). Automation And Society: Will Democracy Survive The Internet Of Things? Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/john-purrier/internet-of-things_b_161401...
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