Donna: uh….yes. It is a culture that revolves around a specifically Caucasian ideal of eternal youth and a model-like body type that statistically only 2% of women in the world will have genetically. And because women are supposed to have achieved this ideal beauty naturally and not to have really worked at it at all, there is a level of secrecy held about any procedures done or diets followed that is misleading to the public at large. This proliferates the myth that those of us that don’t fit into these ideals have done something wrong…and if only we had—fill in the blank here, stayed of the sun, had more willpower, moisturized more regularly, eaten more veggies-we would easily achieve this beauty ideal, just like these other uber-women presented in the media.
Jenee: Most defiantly yes! I find it very disheartening that pop culture has become so fake, that idea of botox, breast implants, tummy tucks and liposuction have become a common day occurrence. Over 75% of the females I work with at the bar have gotten breast implants and everyone is under the age of 30, I know a 23 year old who is saving to have collagen injections in her lips!
Amy: It depends on to what level you embrace the beauty culture. If you are part of a subculture that embraces plastic surgery as a rite of passage or necessity, then yes. If the beauty culture is for hair and make-up, then no.
Donna: Now, things have gotten somewhat better in the last years. There are a handful of examples of beauty that is outside this realm and I will always applaud and support these unique examples…but I will always want to see more. The only thing we can do to counteract this effect of the typical beauty culture on our own psyche is to choose to celebrate and focus on the individual beauty of those real women around us…and set the example for our friends, and our sisters, daughters and nieces, to do the same.
Rosie: The interesting thing about the beauty culture is that it is a choice. We can choose to engage with what pop culture or mainstream society tells us is beautiful or we can choose not to—but choosing not to means that we have enough confidence to turn away and not doubt our judgment. If we are choosing to turn away from that mainstream beauty standard and are doing it for the first time, then the first step is intention. Thinking to yourself, “I have decided that I am defining beauty for myself” and then going for it by loving yourself as you are, loving others as they are, choosing to be happy everyday—not someday when you are blonde, tall, tan, thin, whatever- and knowing that your body is taking you everywhere you are going right now and deserves some respect for that. Intention yields focus and focus allows what you desire to grow and become apparent. Change our minds and we can change the beauty culture that rules over us. The great thing is that body image isn’t static—it’s possible to grow no matter our history. Too often, we believe that we will be content when our body changes. Actually, we’ll be content only when our mind changes, when we allow ourselves to be content.
Jenee: One does make the choice to participate or not. But I feel like it gets harder and harder to turn away. We are constantly bombarded by billboards, magazines you try to avoid at in the check out lane, advertisements in the bath room stalls that say “put your body in the hands of an artist” like the fact that I was created from tiny little DNA molecules isn’t creative enough. Hell they have loans dedicated to plastic surgery now!
Amy: Adornment has been part of the human psyche though the ages. It cab be a wonderful, soulful part of us rather than detrimental. It is only with the advent of going under the knife and embracing the inner corset (extreme dieting) that physical adornment has become physically dangerous and therefore an erosion of our soul.
Donna: My final word on this is that it is imperative that you surround yourself with positive, fabulous women that believe in unique, individual beauty as you do. The alternative leads down a road of chasing after something that will never be caught…and who wants to waste any precious time on that?
Jenee: I think it’s important to surround yourself with strong women who love themselves. Read magazines that don’t promote that kind of image like Bust or Ms. Remind yourself of the reality of the situation and don’t give into the air brushed image. Make an effort to tell little girls how smart they are not how pretty they look. Trying to combat the media and modern day standards takes effort and courage! Make the decision to live in reality and love people for who they are and not hate them for who their not.