Friday, January 3, 2014

HOT OR NOT, DO OR DON'T: when did female beauty become front page news?

Every day the articles that I read on blogs and even reputable publications make me a little uncomfortable. The content is always the same, but there has been a lot more of it: an overwhelming focus on the appearance of women -- from actresses like Kate Winslet to politicians like Hillary Clinton-- every. single. day. When I read about Hillary Clinton's new bangs several times today on various news outlets, a vein started throbbing on my forehead, and my uncomfortable feeling turned into fury.

Hot or not. Do or don't.

Every day, amazing women's appearances are being dissected or cut down: what they wore, how big their thighs are, how photoshopped their magazine covers look, their new haircuts, their dramatic weight losses or gains, their cellulite or tummies revealed on the beach, how they look without makeup, how fast they bounced back from their baby weight or not... the list goes on. 

Hot or not. Do or don't. 

Beauty has changed -- it is an obsession that has become a communal property, not a personal pleasure. In model Cameron Russell's TED Talk, she admitted that models are the most insecure people you will ever meet because they have to think about how they look every single day. But really -- what is the difference between the hearts of models and those of normal women? Every single woman has to think about her appearance every day because what she reads online or watches on TV keeps telling her that this is what matters most. Every woman is sold this fake standard of perfection, and reminded: you're not it -- even the models who are commercializing these standards are just products of hairstylists, make-up artists, and photoshop whizzes. 

Hot or not. Do or don't.

Women are reminded again and again of how much we should eat or exercise, of the countless ways that we should be improving our appearances. Our outfits are too revealing/sexy or too boring/not sexy enough.  We need to lose 15 pounds or gain 15 pounds. Our boobs are too big or too small. When you critique the appearance of one woman, you critique the appearance of ALL women. The saddest thing is, women are the harshest critics of each other, regurgitating these ridiculous standards that are so deeply ingrained. 

It's mostly female journalists and bloggers who write the headlines: Hot or not. Do or don't.

The fashion and beauty industry's lifeblood is fueled by consumer behavior, but these behaviors are molded by the media. Consumers decide what they want to buy, but the media tells them why they need them and all the countless things that they need to fix about how they look. Beauty companies market products with good intentions - to empower women to own their unique beauty, to enhance what they love about themselves; yet sometimes their media and advertisements scream: you should look like this. You have a lot of work to do.

78% of 17 year old American girls are unhappy with their bodies (source) -- and every single person working in women's consumer goods is responsible for decreasing that number. We should be on our customer's side and do everything we can to protect her self-esteem.

I've worked in beauty marketing for the past few years from the biggest beauty manufacturer to beauty e-commerce retail. I often feel guilty that the products I help sell are sold at the expense of women's insecurities. But that is NOT what beauty is about.  I pray that feminine beauty can be more and more empowering and sacred and less of a social and consumer commodity. I pray that women will be told every single day that it's what they DO that ultimately matters, not whether or not they should get bangs.

(Photo source from Life Magazine via here)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Do share!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...