Wedding dresses are definitely the most important dress for every woman. Everyone want to be the most beautiful women when wear the wedding gowns. Nowadays vintage wedding dresses are become more and ...
I am constantly hearing the lament: "Where have all the good men (women) gone?" The way people talk you would think that mates were an extinct species. In this article, I will be discussing the issue ...
This night of rock n roll on the Playboy grounds will feature a seemingly endless array of beautiful women, fine food and drink as you party hard with some of the biggest names in rock n roll!
Size six: The Western women's harem By Fatema Mernissi An eye-opening new perspective on gender roles and the male-domination of the multi-billion dollar fashion industry. I have finally found the answer to the harem enigma. Unlike the Muslim man, who uses space to establish male domination by excluding women from the public arena, the Western man manipulates time and light. He declares that in order to be beautiful, a woman must look 14 years old. If she dares to look 50 or, worse, 60, she is beyond the pale. By putting the spotlight on the female child and framing her as the ideal of beauty, he condemns the mature woman to invisibility. In fact, the modern Western man enforces one of Immanuel Kant’s 19th-century theories: To be beautiful, women have to appear childish and brainless.
Fatema Mernissi was born in a harem, but her female counterparts in the West suffer an even harsher fate. When a Western women looks mature and self-assertive, or allows her hips to expand, she is condemned as ugly. Thus, the walls of the European harem separate youthful beauty from ugly maturity. Western attitudes, I thought, are even more dangerous and cunning than the Muslim ones because the weapon used against women is time. Time is less visible and more fluid than space. The Western man uses images and spotlights to freeze female beauty within an idealised childhood, and forces women to perceive aging – the normal unfolding of the years – as a shameful devaluation.
Ode to the Naked Female guest post by The Crossbowman You know something? I like to see myself as an intelligent man. I think I'm fairly smart. I'm considerate of others, and I try to see issues from more than one side. Blah blah, sensitive, blah, blah blah. I love the female figure. I really do. I especially love the female figure naked... or nearly naked. I love a curvaceous woman... she needn't have huge breasts, but I like a woman who ISN'T built like one of the Olsen twins. I love to see a woman that is proud of her curves, and isn't afraid to wear jeans because her round might make her "look fat"... (add a nice, well-placed tattoo, and I might do tricks for her) Despite all of the crap churned out by most media outlets, I am unconcerned with how skinny women are. I don't care if a woman has a flat belly and I don't care if she has a small ass.
Many men (and women) have had their brains scrambled over the last decades about the beauty of female figure. For years we have been bombarded with the twiggy-look as the ultimate female form, despite the fact that this is unrealistic. Not to mention unhealthy. No, give me a woman who has a full, lush body. A woman with curves. I like a woman with child-bearing hips, and ass that isn't flat. I love a woman that looks after her body, but is disinterested in someone else's ideal of what it should be. It's all about confidence. A confident woman is a sexy woman. I love a woman that is sexually confident, who knows what she wants, and isn't afraid to say what it is. Confidence is the sexiest trait a woman has. http://mommyblogstoronto.typepad.com/hotandbothered/2007/09/ode-to-a-nake-1.html
Study Finds Female Beauty Is Male Drug Brain scans show a man's reaction to seeing beautiful women is similar to an addict's when he get his fix. The study seems to be proof feminine beauty affects the male brain at its most basic level.Pictures of attractive women activated the same reward circuits in the brains of heterosexual men as food and cocaine.The study may help prove we are born knowing what is beautiful and what is not. Dan Ariely, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a co-author of the study, said: "This is hard-core circuitry. Beauty is working similar to a drug."
In a second, related study, men were shown random pictures of women for several seconds, but could extend or cut the viewing time by pressing keys on a keypad. Attractive women were viewed an average of 8.7 seconds while others were viewed for 5.2 seconds. The men worked frantically to keep the beautiful women on the screen, each pressing the keyboard an average of more than 6,700 times in 40 minutes. A researcher said: ''These guys look like rodents bar-pressing for cocaine." Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have published their work in the journal "Neuron". http :// www.anvari.org / fun / Gender / Study _ Finds _ Female _Beauty_is_Male_ Drug.html
The following was written by the late educator-humorist Sam Levinson for his grandchild and read by Audrey Hepburn on Christmas Eve, 1992. It was also used by Ms. Hepburn on occasion when she was asked for beauty tips. [From Audrey Hepburn by Barry Paris, 1996, Putnam]
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.
The 'Perfect' Female (an analysis of Biology of Beauty) Would Prince Charming ever have chosen Cinderella out of all the maidens at the ball, if she was not the most beautiful in the land? How important were the relative contours of her waist and hips in his selection? Is it a question worth reflection or for one which there is a 'natural' answer-"No, he wouldn't have looked at her twice if she wasn't attractive". All fairy tales and hegemonic narratives hypothesize that beauty is an essential for well being and survival. Likewise, evolutionary scientists including Darwin himself have found that certain features and characteristics considered beauti-ful are indicators of developmental health and is fundamen-tal to the evolutionary process of both humans and animals alike. Diverse observations carried out by evolutionary biologists over time have indicated a positive correlation between attractive physical traits and higher proportion of fertility and good health. Studies of disparate range of animals and plants have revealed that less attractive and asymmetrical physical features render an organism more susceptible to disease and parasite assaults. Hence, beauty acts as a 'certification of biological quality' since the mate value and fitness of an individual may depend on them possessing attributes esteemed as beautiful.
One such 'attractive' physical attribute of women that positively correlates in to an indicator of child bearing ability and healthiness is relative waist to hip ratio. Men are observed to 'biologically' prefer women with a striking hour glass figure (a small waist to hip ratio) since these physical features of a woman are what is considered the most salient indicators of her ability to procreate.I wonder how valid this mode of classification of women based on an attractive physical trait such as the relative contours of her waist and hip really is. The 'Barbie doll' contours of women's bodies that both men and biologists rank as significant attributes of fertility, youth and health could be dominant hegemonic categorization of beauty that is inextricably linked to applying a universal standard to the classification of female beauty which does not take into account of increased diversity and cultural variances. Through observations evolutionary biologists have found a link between the popular fascination for Barbie doll curves (or small waist to hip ratios) in women and a higher disposition of fertility and health. Worldwide men of diverse backgrounds, ethnicity and ages have ranked women with a small waist to hip ratio of around 0.7(the waist is 70% the size of the hips), irrespective of variance in weight as the most attractive and healthy.
This corresponds to scientific assessments that verify a woman with a small waist to hip ratio (WHR) as the most healthy and fertile . WHR is found to be positively correlated with high testosterone and negatively linked to estrogen, thereby high degrees of estro-gen lead to low WHR. A high concentration of estrogen in the female body especially after puberty results in nearly 35 pounds of reproductive fat deposited on the hips and thighs rather than on the waist. A study conducted in Netherlands has found that even a slight increase in waist to hip circumference might lead to reproduc-tive problems and infertility, as a woman with a WHR of 0.9 is nearly one third less likely to get pregnant than a woman with a 0.8 WHR. In addition, a higher degree of adult onset diabetes has been observed in women with high WHR. Thereby it could be observed that a female with a more hourglass figure is more fertile and healthy than non-curvaceous or high WHR woman. Male fascination with more curvy women therefore translates into a reasonable indicator of the actual reproduc-tive value of females since the low WHR is associated with high fertility and good health. This is a good example of sexual selection in the evolutionary process
However it could be argued that the very concept of using the relative waist to hip ratio of women to assess beauty, as an indicator of better adaptability and fertility might be a consequence of western hegemonic values and ideals internalized by individuals of different back-grounds, cultures and ages. As poet and social critic Katha Pollitt argues, "it's the fantasy life of American men being translated into genetics“. A research had been carried out by some evolutionary biologists to test the hypothesis that the male preference for women with low WHR might be a product of domi-nant western influences and that beauty as an indicator of adaptability might be culturally variable. A study of two populations of Matsigenka Indians; an indigenous group of Peru, which comprised of a highly isolated group and a more westernized group of the same ethnic population was used to test this hypothesis. The summarized observations revealed that males in the highly isolated group of Matsigenka ranked 'overweight' women with high WHR as more attractive and consider-ed them more healthy and fertile than women with low WHR. However, the men of the more westernized group of Matsigenka, regarded low WHR women as more attractive and preferable although overweight and high WHR females were considered healthier and more fertile. Child bearing women of both population groups were observed to have a high WHR as opposed to post child bearing and childless women who were thinner and had a small waist to hip ratio.
These observations by themselves do not prove (or disprove) the hypothesis that the male prefer-ence for small waist, big hipped women is dependent on cultural variances. However it emphasizes the importance of a more broad and diverse theory of evolution and adaptability, which takes in to account, increased diversity as imperative to evolution rather than a narrow focus on supposedly 'universal' characteristics like small waist to hip ratios as an indicator of female adaptability. It also makes us contemplate how 'natural' the categorization of humans under the broad um-brella of biology of beauty as a form of 'success-ful' adaptation really is, if it does not address increased diversity and reproduction with variance. Biological evaluation of women based on the contours of their body for instance has been used to contend male preferences for certain categories of women like young (a.k.a. 'fertile' and 'healthy' women) that exclude a diverse segment of women out of the beauty paradigm. Thus, it could be argued that by biological categorization/separation of women as superior/inferior based on attractiveness, science becomes another tool to justify patriarchal practices that discriminate and subordinate women. This time on the grounds of biological quality.
Perceptions Of Female Beauty In The 20th Century by Louise Wood The 20th century has seen a huge upsurge in the importance placed by Western society on physical beauty, particularly for women. The fashion, cosmetics and plastic surgery industries have thrived on 20th century preoccup-ation with physical appearance. It is a preoccupation that affects women in every sphere, whether they choose to pander to it or not. This essay examines female beauty in the 20th century in terms of popular culture, in particular fashion, cinema and advertising. before exploring these areas, I intend to deal briefly with basic definitions of beauty. The main body of the essay will then be concerned with an overview of each decade's particular take in female beauty. According to Kant, the judgement of beauty is different from cognitive or moral judgement because it is effected subjectively, that is, exclusively in reference to the person making the judgement. For a judgement to be truly “aesthetic”, rather than merely idiosyncratic, the person making the judgement must be adamant that their opinion be consensus. “A person who describes something as beautiful insists that everyone ought to give the object in question his approval and follow suit.” Plato, one of the earliest philosophers to concern himself with beauty, defined it as a “property intrinsic in objects” which could be measured in “purity, integrity, harmony and perfection.”
Definitions of beauty in the 20th century, when referring to human physical beauty, are nearly always constructed in terms of outward appearance and sexual attractiveness. Nancy Baker's definition is The Beauty Trap is more concerned with intangible personal qualities. “A truly beautiful woman makes the best of her physical assets but, more importantly, she also radiates a personal quality which is attrac-tive.” In Beauty In History, Arthur Marwick defines a human physical beauty in more direct terms: “The beautiful are those who are immediately exciting to almost all of the opposite sex.” For the first two decades of the 20th century, many of the attitudes towards beauty associated with the 19th century remained. In Victorian society, it was considered a woman's duty to make herself beautiful. In the early 20th century, this was coupled with the idea of “self-presentation” as enjoyable, expressive and creative. However, some of the more bizarre and painful “beauty aids” of the Victorian age continued to be marketed well into the 1920s. A particularly unpleasant example is “M.Trielty's Nose Shaper”, described as a “metal object ... held over the nose by straps buckled round the head and adjusted with screws.” One of the main elements of this century's perception of beauty that sets it apart from the 19th century is the polarity of cosmetics.
In the last century, cosmetics were frowned upon in society as the mark of a prostitute. The cosmetics industry grew from the roots of the manufacturing of theatre make-up by Helena Rubenstein and Max Factor, who adapted their products for everyday use. From puberty onwards, young girls use cosmetics in order to look older an attract older boys. Conversely, their mothers use cosmetics in order to disguise the flaws of age and maintain a youthful appearance. That is not to say that the cosmetics boom does not have its adversaries: many feminists believe the marketing of cosmetics, along with high fashion, to be an exploitation of women by male industry moguls. Some women resent having to use cosmetics in order to compete in the workforce. But for many women, the cosmetics ritual is not a chore or a necessary evil, but an enjoyable activity in itself. It is not purely for the benefit of men that women wear cosmetics, but for themselves and each other. The cosmetics and fashion industries are interde-pendent with the medium of advertising. Cynthia White points out that the turnabout in opinions on cosmetics is women's magazines in the 1920s coincided with the increase of cosmetics advertising in the same publications. Advertising is often presumed to have little cultural value, but is a powerful way in which attitudes towards women and beauty are reinforced.
The 20th century fascination with celebrities is a tool expertly used in the advertising industry. If a beautiful model, or more effectively a beautiful celebrity is used in an advertisement, the qualities associated with that person are transferred onto the product. Another major influence on this century's attitudes towards beauty was the growth of the film industry. For the first half of the century, all the major beauty icons were film actresses. It was a medium that allowed women who would have previously been overlooked to shine. For instance, the 19th century aversion to redheads was still in place as late as the 20s. It was that black-&-white medium that allowed Clara Bow to be the exception. However, stars such as Bette Davis and Katherine Turner who could not be described as “conventionally beautiful” invariably came from middle or upper class backgrounds. Beauty was an essential attribute for a working class woman to become successful in Hollywood. This period was also the beginning of the ties between the film and fashion industries, which would continue for decades to come. Up to the 1910s, the “Gibson Girl”, invented by Charles Dana Gibson in the 1890s, was still considered to be the ideal of femininity. The Victorian ideal of “the chaste and delicate woman” continued to be embodied in the form of childlike, virginal film stars such as Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford. A more typical 20th century contrast was provided by Theda Bara, who was perpetually cast in the role of the Vamp.
By the second decade of the century, fashion was losing its Victorian austerity, and giving way to soft, draping, Oriental-inspired fabrics. However, corsets were still worn, and the fashion for long, narrow skirts prompted the popularity of the “hobble garter”, a device worn around the calves to stop women from taking long strides and splitting their skirts. One reason given by Fred E. H. Schroeder for the continuing popularity of long skirts was the bulky menstrual cloths worn by women until the advent of disposable feminine hygiene products in the 20s. 1920s fashion placed more importance on “natural endowment” than any time in the preceding centuries. although cosmetics were worn to conceal natural flaws, their main function was to draw attention to women's natural features. Skirts became shorter than they had possibly ever been, but in contradiction to the atmosphere of freedom in fashion, feminine curves became unfashionable. Women wore “flatteners” to minimise their busts, and waistlines were lowered to hip level. The ubiquitous bobbed hairstyles of the 20s were originally cut in barber shops. When barbers failed to meet the demands of fashionable young things, beauty shops sprang up everywhere. the new technique of permanent waving was immensely popular: American women spent $250m on perms alone during the 1920s.
The icons of the 1920s were represented, again exclusively in the cinema, by the up-front sexuality of Jean Harlow, Clara Bow and Mae West, together with the “mysterious androgyny” of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. The theme of androgyny was to be continually repeated throughout the century, particularly in the 60s and 80s. The Production Code enforced on Hollywood films in the 1930s put an end to the sexual content of the films of the 20s, however tame, including a ban on miscegenation. Although sexuality was played down, the change in content meant that roles for women became more realistic, resulting in the rise of “wholesome” stars such as Katherine Hepburn and Jean Arthur. 1930s fashion favoured tall women with wide shoulders and narrow hips, a type exemplified by Greta Garbo. Hem-lines dropped and waistlines returned to their normal position, and the “erogenous zone” shifted from legs to the back, coinciding with the increasing popularity of sunbathing. World War II brought strict controls on clothing production for the following decade. The principal 1940s look was a practical and masculine style (“the Utility Lines”) with padded shoulders and knee-length hem-lines. Shortage of materials for stockings led to the popularity of trousers for women. In the late 40s, as a reaction to wartime austerity, Christian Dior launched the “New Look”, with corseted waists, padded hips and billowing skirts, using far more fabric than most women's rations would allow. Despite its exclusive nature, Dior's look revolutionised fashion and influenced the return to overt femininity in the next decade. The cinema continued its influence throughout the war years; icons of the 40s were as diverse as Vivien Leigh, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Rosalind Russell.
Fashion in the 50s was divided between the sophisti-cated Chanel/Dior end of the scale, and the newly invented teenage style. The archetypal 50s teenage girl wore tight sweaters, pointed bras and circular skirts, with tight trousers and Beatnik black becoming de rigeur for both sexes. Particularly in America, there was an emphasis on conformity and “flaw conceal-ment” self-presentation. This was especially true for black women, who were encouraged to look as white as possible by straightening their hair and lightening their skin. Three of the major film stars of the 50s, Marilyn Mon-roe, Jayne Mansfield and Kim Novak, were blonde and extremely curvaceous, harking back to the overt sexu-ality of the 1920s stars. Contrast was provided by the overtly non-sexual Doris Day. The changing sexual climate meant that Marilyn Monroe was able to turn the discovery of nude photos, taken before her rise to fame, to her advantage. This would not have been possible ten years previously. In contrast to Monroe, Grace Kelly realized every little girl's dream of becoming a princess, and embodied a demure sophistication that made her a role model for socialites worldwide. It is interesting to note that the 1950s also saw the introduction of both the Barbie doll and Playboy magazine.
The 1960s was a decade of tremendous impor-tance with regard to the late 20th century percep-tion of beauty. The idea of beauty as a “status characteristic” on an equal footing with wealth and social position has its roots in the 60s. This is summed up by film director Michaelangelo Antonioni's description of his stars (e.g. David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave in Blow-up): “They are the heroes of the age, they have invented the new canons of beauty.” French and Italian film actresses replaced Hollywood stars as the chic role models, and fashion models rivalled film stars as the professional “beautiful people.” Due to the increasing focus on sexuality of the decade, young people abandoned rules of fashion which decreed modesty and concealed the imperfections of older people. The most obvious example of this is the mini-skirt, invented by Mary Quant in 1964. The obvious artifice of the 50s gave way to a more “natural” approach to personal appearance. Nonetheless, the celebrated natural look was no less contrived than its 50s counterpart. In The Truth About Modelling, Jean Shrimpton talks about spending forty minutes applying her “natural look” make-up. Shrimpton, along with Twiggy, epitomised a new kind of beauty icon, the model-as-superstar.
Twiggy was naturally thin, but most women had to struggle to achieve the same look. Cosmetic surgery became increasingly popular in the modelling industry, with removal of the back teeth and lower ribs becoming common operations. In the late 60s and early 70s there was a marked decrease in the presence of female cinema stars. But this era also saw the beginning of rebellion against “imposed ideas of feminine beauty”. Individuality was expressed in customized clothes and the ethnic look. In the early 70s, the futurism of the 60s gave way to nostalgia. Long hair and flared trousers were compulsory for both sexes, and mini skirts were replaced by hot pants and ankle-length maxi-skirts. The popularity of platform soles in the mid-70s resulted in thousands of sprained ankles in the name of fashion, a performance that was repeated two decades later by the daughters of 70s fashion victims. The late 70s saw the abolition of flared trousers and long hair under the influence of punk. A watered-down version of the punk aesthetic, combined with the influence of Japanese designers such as Kenzo and Miyake was to be the fashion template for the following decade. The health and fitness boom also has an enormous influence on 80s fashion, producing leotards, ra-ra skirts, leggings and tracksuits. The popularity of careerism and power-dressing in the 80s saw women adopting the dress codes of men in the workplace.
The 80s equivalent to Grace Kelly was Princess Diana, who was even more demure, more sophisticated and more emulated than her 50s counterpart. Towards the end of the 80s, the underwear-as-outerwear look popularised by Madonna, Cher and Kylie Minogue found its way into mainstream fashion, where it would remain well into the 90s. Madonna symbolised the archetypal 80s woman: undeniably sexual and feminine, yet successful and in control. Kylie, on the other hand, had to drop her girl-next-door image and transform herself into “sex-Kylie” before becoming a bona-fide icon. The 20th century's unbreakable link between beauty and success was consolidated in the 80s. This phenomenon was illustrated in a survey published in the Journal Of Applied Social Psychology in 1983. Participants were asked to match up women of varying degrees of attractiveness with jobs that they deemed suitable. Not only did attractive people receive a more positive response, but recommendations for their salaries were higher. Although female curves enjoyed something of a comeback in the 80s, the obsession with fitness reinforced the thin-is-beautiful mythology. This culminated in the early 90s, with the underweight “waif” look, epitomised by Kate Moss, at the height of its popularity.
Arthur Marwick states in Beauty In History that “any-thing which ... draws attention to mortality is very definitely not beautiful.” This does not take into account the 1990s fascination with underweight models and “junkie chic”. However, there is a marked difference between the body types of women who appear in fashion magazines and those who appear in men's publication and pornography. As Kathy Myers points out in Looking On: “There is an overall tendency to market `fleshier' women to men and thinner, sometimes sexually androgynous images of women to female audiences.” By 90s standards Marilyn Monroe, the archetypal beauty icon of the 1950s, would be considered fat. Yet the average size of women in Europe and America had risen sufficiently by the 1980s to prompt clothesmanufacturers to alter their sizing systems. There seems to be a link between accepted body weight and periods of prosper-ity. Curvaceous women were fashionable in the 1950s, when economics were still recovering from World War II, whereas thin women became more fashionable in the more prosperous 60s. The popularity of cosmetic surgery among ordinary people has continued to increase within the last decade. 60,000 people in Britain every year avail of plastic surgery, the most popular operations being breast reduction and augmentation, liposuction, wrinkle removal, chin reduction, cheekbone implants and lip augmentation.
French performance artist Orlan has turned plastic surgery into an art form by using her face as a canvas for a portrait, using “the chin of Venus ... the brows of Mona Lisa”. The 1990s are primarily defined by their magpie-like theft of the styles and music of other decades. However, the “retro-chic” phenomenon is not a new one. One only has to look at examples such as the 1920s revival in the 60s and the 1950s revival in the 70s to realise that popular culture has always had a penchant for nostalgia. The Victorian fascination with classical Greek and Medieval styles is an even earlier example. A legacy of the punk era that will certainly help to define 90s beauty in the future is the widespread acceptance and popularity of body art. An edition of Channel 4's Feminism In The 90s in July 1994 featured women with tattoos and body piercings who described body art as a medium of self-expression and a facility for a feeling of control over their bodies. One woman pierced her nipples after completing breastfeeding as “a symbolic act of taking back that part of the body they had given to their child.” The transformation in the general public's opinion on body art can be likened to the widespread acceptance of cosmetics in the early part of the century.
To conclude, the predominant feature of beauty in the 20th century is not the constant change I have described above, but the constant importance of outward appearances in so many women's lives, even those who reject 20th century cultural norms. The escalating growth of the fashion, cosmetics and cosmetic surgery industries is a testament to Western society's obsession with being beautiful. And because beauty is irreversibly linked with success in the Western psyche, out obsession with physical attractiveness looks set to continue into the next century and beyond. http :// barneygrant.tripod.com / p-erceptions.htm
R emember the guy who paid an ode to female beauty with those unforgettable lines : Yeh tere aakhen jhuki jhuki, tera chehera khila khila —— in Fareb? Parbina Rashid in The Tribune, Chandigarh, India Dec 6 2005
Beauty and Body Image in the Media "We don’t need Afghan-style burquas to disappear as women. We disappear in reverse—by revamping and revealing our bodies to meet externally imposed visions of female beauty.“ Says: Robin Gerber, author and motivational speaker. Images of female bodies are everywhere. Women—and their body parts—sell everything from food to cars. Popular film and television actresses are becoming younger, taller and thinner. Some have even been known to faint on the set from lack of food. Women’s magazines are full of articles urging that if they can just lose those last twenty pounds, they’ll have it all—the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex, and a rewarding career. Why are standards of beauty being imposed on women, the majority of whom are naturally larger and more mature than any of the models? The roots, some analysts say, are economic. By presenting an ideal difficult to achieve and maintain, the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. And it’s no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of beauty. If not all women need to lose weight, for sure they’re all aging, says the Quebec Action Network for Women’s Health in its 2001 report Changements sociaux en faveur de la diversité des images corporelles. And, according to the industry, age is a disaster that needs to be dealt with.
Cover of Shape magazineThe stakes are huge. On the one hand, women who are insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet aids. It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth $100 billion (U.S.) a year. On the other hand, research indicates that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls. The American research group Anorexia Nervosa & Related Eating Disorders, Inc. says that one out of every four college-aged women uses unhealthy methods of weight control—including fasting, skipping meals, excessive exercise, laxative abuse, and self-induced vomiting. And the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute warns that weight control measures are being taken by girls as young as nine. American statistics are similar. In 2003, Teen magazine reported that 35 per cent of girls 6 to 12 years old have been on at least one diet, and that 50 to 70 per cent of normal weight girls believe they are overweight. Media activist Jean Kilbourne concludes that, "Women are sold to the diet industry by the magazines we read and the television programs we watch, almost all of which make us feel anxious about our weight."
Unattainable Beauty Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that media images of female beauty are unattainable for all but a very small number of women. Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition. Still, the number of real life women and girls who seek a similarly underweight body is epidemic, and they can suffer equally devastating health consequences.
The Culture of Thinness Researchers report that women’s magazines have ten and one-half times more ads and articles promoting weight loss than men’s magazines do, and over three-quarters of the covers of women’s magazines include at least one message about how to change a woman’s bodily appearance—by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery. Television and movies reinforce the importance of a thin body as a measure of a woman’s worth. Canadian researcher Gregory Fouts reports that over three-quarters of the female characters in TV situation comedies are underweight, and only one in twenty are above average in size. Heavier actresses tend to receive negative comments from male characters about their bodies ("How about wearing a sack?"), and 80 per cent of these negative comments are followed by canned audience laughter. There have been efforts in the magazine industry to buck the trend. For several years the Quebec magazine Coup de Pouce has consistently included full-sized women in their fashion pages and Châtelaine has pledged not to touch up photos and not to include models less than 25 years of age. However, advertising rules the marketplace and in advertising thin is "in."
Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 per cent less than the average woman. But today’s models weigh 23 per cent less. Advertisers believe that thin models sell products. When the Australian maga-zine New Woman recently included a picture of a heavy-set model on its cover, it received a truckload of letters from grateful readers praising the move. But its advertisers complained and the magazine returned to featuring bone-thin models. Advertising Age Interna-tional concluded that the incident "made clear the influ-ence wielded by advertisers who remain convinced that only thin models spur the sales of beauty products." Self-Improvement or Self-Destruction? The barrage of messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tells "ordinary" women that they are always in need of adjustment—and that the female body is an object to be perfected. Jean Kilbourne argues that the overwhelming presence of media images of painfully thin women means that real women’s bodies have become invisible in the mass media. The real tragedy, Kilbourne concludes, is that many women internalize these stereotypes, and judge themselves by the beauty industry's standards. Women learn to compare themselves to other women, and to compete with them for male attention. This focus on beauty and desirability "effectively destroys any awareness and action that might help to change that climate."
Female Beauty How do you define "beauty"? Double eyelids? Almond-shaped eyes? Wrinkle-free complexion? Different people have different yardsticks for measuring "beauty". In this website , a group of researchers went about studying the faces of the people around before coming up with a proto-type of a face that is "attractive" and another prototype of a face that is "unattractive". So how do they look like? What are the features that defines a "pretty face"? You find their answer on the right side of this slide http :// mybloginthenet.blogspot.com /2006/04/ femalebeauty.html