‘Beauty is Skin Deep’: Empty Words for Women

Society puts way too much emphasis on outward physical appearance. Women especially are impacted by this societal flaw. Women throughout history have dealt with significant barriers to their well-being and restrictions on their abilities. Although society has come a long way in terms of providing women with chances to express themselves more and explore other aspects of their inner selves, modern civilization continues to place supreme emphasis upon a woman’s appearance as the true measure of her worth rather than more important aspects of her being such as personality, intelligence, compassion or talents. We still have numerous pop culture stars out there like Paris Hilton and her bunch who seem to think being an object talked about is better than being a human making a difference. These empty-headed material-culture superstars have achieved their fame based solely on their beautiful bodies and extreme spending habits. The idea of the ‘Barbie complex’ is not new, but the importance placed on being blonde, slim and young has created a culture that is inordinately focused upon appearance to the great detriment of most of its members.

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Numerous studies have been conducted that link aspects of the appearance culture with increased rates of eating disorders, negative self-image and peer acceptance among adolescents. Adults reinforce the idea that beauty is everything as evidenced in the proliferation of plastic surgery centers offering every type of physically ‘enhancing’ procedure. The superstar status of such vacuous identities as Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears has sent many adolescents into these centers as well. In a Scotland study questioning 2,000 girls with an average age of 14, “four out of ten said they would consider plastic surgery to make themselves slimmer” regardless of their current weight status (Gustafson, 2005).

There are arguments that indicate the focus on outward appearance is an unavoidable and even necessary aspect of life. From our earliest history, it has been through our outward appearances that we project who and what we are to other people. Studies have continuously shown that people dress a certain way and acquire certain things to try to evince an attitude of belonging to a particular subset of individuals who embody their ideals (Gilman, 1999).

The only way to adequately combat the flawed associations that have developed in our modern culture regarding the importance of fitting into a stereotyped ‘Barbie doll’ type image in order to retain some sense of personal worth is through alterations of the images presented by the media that has so skillfully skewed our sense of worth in its dangerous direction. Reinforced by the ideas and activities of their parents, surrounded by role models that have little more than looks in their favor and still leading fabulous fairytale lives as depicted on television and having these concepts reinforced by the skillful manipulations seen in reality shows, teenagers have little option but to believe that the ideal form, carefully constructed in the plastic surgeon’s chair, is the only way to acceptance and happiness in today’s world.

The idea that beauty may buy oneself happiness is a popular myth perpetuated through such practices, but proof that it is a lie can be found everywhere. As women continue to spend more and more in pursuit of an image they will never achieve and even the most beautiful women admit to being miserable in their personal lives, it becomes more and more clear that the true path to happiness must lie in the development of the self. In the end, it is society as a whole that determines what the ideal human form should look like, and therefore it is the responsibility of the adults to determine whether physical measurements should define the quality of the individual or if attention should be redirected to more realistic and less superficial attributes. The concept that youthful appearance automatically means youthful feelings, youthful energy and youthful desirability is wide-spread and helps to drive the body as commodity concept. It is the responsibility of society at large to put an end to the concept of the body beautiful as a major commodity in our culture and to focus attention on more lasting goals and pursuits.

Works Cited

Gustafson, Rod. “Parenting and the Media.” (2005). Parents Television Council Publications.

Gilman, Sander L. Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery. Princeton University Press, 1999.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, August 11). ‘Beauty is Skin Deep’: Empty Words for Women. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/beauty-is-skin-deep-empty-words-for-women/

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