Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Media Advertising Reality And The Manufactured Beauty Myth - Video

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''There is a secret "underlife" poisoning our freedom; infused with notions of beauty, it is a dark vein of self-hatred, physical obsessions, terror of aging, and dread of lost control."
Naomi Wolf - The Beauty Myth

Photo Credit: Adam Radosavljevic

"No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted. Every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is."

The battle for equality between the sexes has been a long one, and many would argue that it is far from finished. While women have effectively fought for the right to be equal to men in the right to vote, success in professional careers, and access to education there still looms one long shadow that continues to have a great impact on the lives of many women. The artifically-created and pervasively marketed idea of beauty.

The Beauty Myth, as it has been labelled by Naomi Wolf in her best-selling book (1991) by the same name, exerts a powerful social pressure on women to conform to a physical "image" of beauty that is not born by our true human needs and inclinations, but by a strategically designed plan to give them a carrot they can never reach.

Finally freed of the pressures of living up to maternal or domestic ideals, Wolf argues, women are now kept in social check by artificially-created media pressures defining successful females by their degree of effectively emulating the reference "beauty" models proposed by commercial media. According to Wikipedia, Wolf argued that women deserve "the choice to do whatever we want with our faces and bodies without being punished by an ideology that is using attitudes, economic pressure, and even legal judgments regarding women's appearance to undermine us psychologically and politically."

But how real is the beauty being sold to you in your every day life? Check this video to find out.

Video Source: COA News

In this short COA News video remix of Dove Self Esteem Group's "Evolution Of Beauty" you can see, in the space of a minute, the amount of artifical transformations needed to "create" the model of beauty you have sold yourself so easily to.

The beauty and fashion industries continue to paint and mold Western culture idea of beauty on a stereotyped hollywoodian model characterized by none of the true virtues of beauty: baffling, personal, intimate, spiritual.

In the visual universe manufactured by fashion, cosmetics, and the cinema and music industries, beauty is nothing else but the lowest common denominator used to numb and distract everyone from the real, deep issues humans need to face: learning how to see, how to communicate, how to learn and question reality and how to relate to each other to cooperatively create a sustainable future.

Within this universe connotating superficiality and the worshiping of appearances Photoshop reigns like an emperor. It is often thanks to digital image editing tools like Photoshop, capable of seamlessly transforming anything into shiny tones and glossy surfaces that it is built a reality of appearances that, in fact, exists nowhere.

But what end does the creation of this inobtainable chimera of beauty serve?

For one, the multi-billion dollar diet, beauty, cosmetic surgery and fashion industries. In creating a climate of fear, self loathing and shattered self esteem these industries hope to make women dependent on their quick fixes and sure fire solutions. As the blurb to Wolf's book notes:

''In a country where the average woman is 5-foot-4 and weighs 140 pounds, movies, advertisements, and MTV saturate our lives with unrealistic images of beauty. The tall, nearly emaciated mannequins that push the latest miracle cosmetic make even the most confident woman question her appearance.

Feminist Naomi Wolf argues that women's insecurities are heightened by these images, then exploited by the diet, cosmetic, and plastic surgery industries. Every day new products are introduced to "correct" inherently female "flaws," drawing women into an obsessive and hopeless cycle built around the attempt to reach an impossible standard of beauty.''

Photo Credit: Xlucas

As artificially-manufactured beauty dominates mass media and the world marketing apparatus emanating from it, it is easy to see why a recent survey concluded that "Just 2% of today's women see themselves as beautiful".

In this way the impossible dream of beauty can be run endlessly. By continuosly and ever more subtly defining in artificial ways, modes and models of reference that are hard to reach for standard individuals, the corporate mechandising machine can keep its toy running indefinitely.

And if you really look and pay attention to it, with clean, detached eyes, you can see that the beauty model is cloned and repeated across the whole spectrum of communications you have chosen to receive from mainstream media. Whether via the false terrorism propaganda news, the commercial pushing of life insurance, the irrelevant and needlessly expensive status symbols peddled at every commercial, or via the ineffective and highly dangerous pharmaceuticals served by the pharma-cartel to too many unquestioning individuals, it doesn't take to be a genius to realize that all of what you are buying into has been created to fool you while significantly benefiting someone else.

And that, could even be accepted under limited circumstances. What should not be accepted, is that in the process of manufacturing "model" realities those who are behind the controls get gradually greater and greater control over how you define your life and how you go about realizing and making yourself feel fit into it.

But unless, you open your eyes and realize that this is just an extended commercial you have been looking at, this warped, digitally distorted image of reality and beauty, will continue to drive, shape and dominate your personal ability to make true sense and meaning of this beautiful gift called life.

In some way, the tools offered by new media, provide a first, direct and immediate escape route from this surreal scenario, while giving everyone the means to start creating a new set of healthier panoramas:
Participatory media, the democratic space of the blogosphere, video and image sharing, and the social networks growing exponentially across the emerging Web 2.0 landscape promise to liberate, those who choose to do so, from the chokehold of corporations that would like to keep telling you how to look, how to feel, and what to think.

Use your head next time.

Read More Elsewhere

The following sites make for interesting reading on the Beauty Myth and its implications:

  • Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty - A campaign from within the cosmetics industry to raise the self esteem of real women.
  • Laura Bryannan - A thoughtful review and critique of The Beauty Myth
  • Amanda Austen (BBC News) - The Beauty Backlash: Results from the aforementioned survey on women's self esteem.
  • Hugh Wilson (MSN Lifestyle) - The Ugly Truth About The Beauty Industry.
  • Naomi Wolf's recent update to her Beauty Myth: The Porn Myth.
  • Michael Pick - [ Read more ]
    Readers' Comments    
    2006-10-31 16:50:32

    Tim VB

    The truth about beauty is also revealed on this web site:

    Click on both of the girl's faces in the sidebar to see more examples of distortion.

    posted by Michael Pick on Wednesday, October 18 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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