An impossible task reserved for the higher powers that be, a request echoing throughout society. A request that people can never fulfill.
Society’s definition of beauty impacts both genders and races with ploys for perfection. Biceps, abs, and a love of sports is the concoction of the “perfect” man. The men of today’s television and movies are strong, brave, and dashing, with more interest in the social ladder than the academic world. Our culture’s reaction to smart young men, who spend more time on their studies than pumping iron is one of distaste. We look down on them. We laugh at them. We bully them. Young men are under the impression that they need to be at the peak of fitness, an anatomical masterpiece, if they have any hope of finding a friend or lover. Men are burdened by the weight of our culture’s critiques.
Society has been subjected to it’s wrath for centuries. Pop culture demands the perfect woman, the perfect bride, the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect being. Television screens glow and magazines sport models and actresses who are the quintessence of today’s beautiful. The epitome of fineness, grace, and physical attractiveness all sculpted into a Size 0 dress. Each one of them share the flawless skin, with non-existent pores and highlighted cheekbones that reflect the dullest illumination in a radiant glow, held firm by the small body frame wrapped in toned muscle, and topped by the hair that ceases to be disgruntled by the affronting weather. Every woman, every piece of media screams beautiful, lending to a society consumed by a desire to achieve something we just can’t have.
Our disease-like obsession has begun to cloud our perception, distorting it. Those women we see plastered on magazines and television are also plastered in makeup. Layers of concealers and highlights, undertones and bronzers coat the skin. Those women are vanilla cake frosted in thick, chemically engineered fondant.
The hours of hair and makeup prep combined with the time invested in the photo shoot are not enough. Each captured frame, withholding a model transfixed into an eternal pose, remains unready for the eyes of the public. The photos will undergo dozens of hours of editing, of lengthening necks and attacking blemishes with a vengeance.
Finally, society is allowed to see.
Prints are made, sales escalate, and the media and corporate world have risen victorious yet again.
It’s sickening. All around us, we are told we are never good enough.
“You’re skinny? Not skinny enough. Lose 5 more pounds.”
“You’re smart? Not smart enough. You didn’t ace chemistry. Nice try though.”
“You’re athletic? Not athletic enough. Varsity doesn’t take second rate players, better luck next year.”
This ideology, this disgusting precipice that we dangle over, has warped our minds. What happened to natural beauty? The beauty that’s dotted with freckles, plagued by pimples, disrupted by dimples, cracked with creases, weathered with wrinkles, and lined by laughter. When did we lose ourselves to eye liners and lipsticks? When did skipping meals become the norm? When did we look at ourselves in the mirror and forget how to look into our own eyes? When did physical fitness take precedence over school work? Where did this self consciousness and shame fall from?
What happened to us?
Little girls look at their mommies eating nothing and shying away from the compliments of others. Those little girls emulate the behaviors of their mothers. They pass those traits on to their daughters. Young boys watch television and see successful men with a 32in waist and a six pack of abs and begin to start lifting weights, dreaming of achieving that level of supremacy. It’s a vicious, never ending cycle.
Every woman and man, every dress size, every weight, complexion, skin color, and height is beautiful; just the way they are. We have been poisoned by a drink called imperfection, and now, in our sickness, we are constantly yearning for an antidote. Corporate America and the media have the whole ordeal backwards. The perception of beauty needs to be clarified and rewritten. People’s natural beauty shouldn’t be blemished by our culture’s use of guilt, self consciousness, and shame as marketing tools. Objectification, beauty, perfection--society has been held to each of these standards, and it’s time for a change.
Perfection is for the birds.
Ditch the distortion and change the mindset.