Beauty: a Distorted Perception
Parents, Friends...the Media? Who's Holding the Remote Control to our Minds?
Growing up, I sailed through life with my blinkers on, telling anyone and everyone how my favourite colour was pink, how good I'd become at applying lip-stick and gloating about the fact that I had more Barbies than Toys 'R' Us could stock. But not once did it occur to me that these 'personality traits' of mine weren't necessarily what I liked, but more what I was made to like. Then one day, whilst my TV told me I needed to buy some amazing stilettos for my brand new Beach Barbie, the clouds suddenly parted and I realised two things: firstly, why would anyone wear stilettos on a beach? It's just non-sensical...and secondly, Barbie had become my (and many other girls my age) role model, and not a fantastic one at that.
For those of you who have never had a Barbie, she's the tall, tanned, skinny one with flowing golden locks of bleach blond hair, a 26" waist, a stomach flatter than a pancake and boobs we all envy. No wonder the rate of eating disorders among girls aged 8 - 16 is rising; we aspire for a body that's simply not human! And it's all thanks to people like Barbie. I'm not going to let Barbie take all the credit, though; celebrities don't help the situation either. They play along with the media's cruel game, even if it means going to extremes (ie. getting plastic surgery) to look like the ultimate embodiment of a man's desire (Barbie, apparently). Dove - who are all about 'natural beauty', are they not? - have even fallen into the trap, by using tons of make-up and modifying the photos of their models to create the perfect picture, whatever 'perfect' is.
The media have such a large influence on our minds. As soon as that journalist publishes the title "Blue is the new Black", women all over are rushing to replace their black clothes for blue ones in fear of falling out of trend. Does Aunt Sally's sudden fitness regime have anything to do with this article on the kitchen table entitled "Thin is In"? By all means, Aunt Sally, go for it, lose the weight, but the worrying thing is that it's not just adults the media affect. It's children, too.
From a very early age, we are confronted with gender stereotypes that we all seem to go along with. In fact, the day we're born we are wrapped up cozily in a pink or blue towel ready to meet our new family, from whom we receive nice pink "It's a girl!" or baby blue "It's a boy!" cards. We go through our teen years thinking any male who wears a pink shirt must be gay - no questions asked - and that a girl owning an action figure is just unheard of. Advert after advert - be it on the internet, in magazines, on the radio or TV - tell us we need all these new and improved products. Even films are targeted at specific audiences; girls like romance, boys like action. It's just the way things are. But why is it just the way things are? Is it because one day mum just decided to dress her little girl in pink and her little boy in blue and the idea just caught on? Or did the media invent all this nonsense and we just followed suit? Most likely the latter.
False Perception: An example of how the media controls our minds
"I wish I looked like her..." Why? She's not even real...
It's in our nature to want what someone else has. "She has such a good figure," "I love her hair", "Wow, her eyes are so big!", but the fact of the matter is that we who we are and always will be. Good for her, with her big eyes or nice figure, but I'm sure there are things that you have that others don't and that they secretly envy you for. I'm naturally very skinny, which means my breast size was never very big, but on the plus side it means I can enjoy a good piece of chocolate cake every so often! So learn to love what you have, and as they say: if you've got it, flaunt it!
Let's use our strength to swim against the current and show people what true beauty is.
Jan 2010 By Daniella Wood