Beauty myth is a powerful force that pushes women to do the possible and impossible to achieve “flawless beauty”. Now the question is: how possible is it to attain impossible beauty standards? Interesting topic to explore, isn’t it?
Did you know that the time the average woman spends perfecting her look in front of the mirror amounts to five days a year?
But how do most women feel when they look into the mirror? We are sure 99.9 % of them get disappointed. And this is not because most women and girls are not good-looking. The thing is women are self-critics and perfectionists who have a great desire to impress everyone with their “flawless beauty”.
If you are a woman who recognized herself in the above paragraph then you are reading the right article about beauty myths and beauty stereotypes that continue to trap modern women.
So join us to find out the biggest beauty myths of the 21st century. Plus learn about the serious impact beauty myths can have on you and your daughters, and the truth behind Disney princess stereotypes. Most importantly we suggest some tips to feel confident about yourself and your appearance.
What is Beauty Myth?
What comes to mind when you picture a beautiful woman? She is usually thin, tall, has got perfect hair waving around her face, perfect skin, hourglass body, full lips, large breasts, and rarely looks older than 25.
Unfortunately, this kind of beauty standards and myths create enormous pressure to which girls and women are exposed.
The most alarming thing is that modern women who don’t match the above-mentioned description of a perfect woman try to fulfill society’s impossible definition of “the flawless beauty” and don’t want to give up the idea of looking like Beyonce or Rihanna.
Such women strongly believe that achieving success is only possible if they also attain a certain level of beauty and physical attractiveness.
So, they believe that their life would improve, they would find better jobs, earn more money and will more likely marry if they lose 15 pounds if they got a nose job, or a facelift and stuff like that.
You see, the definition of beauty myth becomes more and more clear. The beauty myth is a set of gender stereotypes that suggest that beautiful looks are an essential feminine quality.
Under the power of the beauty myth, women commonly make great financial and physical sacrifices to reach these goals.
Women and girls are willing to spend big bucks on cosmetic products, cosmetic interventions, including risks posed by plastic surgery and dieting.
Simply put, today’s beauty myths and stereotypes put incredible pressure on women to look “beautiful,” whatever that really means.
Beauty Myth and the Media
Magic mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?Snow White
In the 21st century, it is surely not the mirror that shows us who the fairest is but ads and magazines do. Just turn on TV or surf the internet and you will be bombarded with images of the “perfect” woman.
You remember who “perfect” woman is? Yes, the one with a flawless face, sexy breasts and legs worth watching, slim hips and professionally designed clothes. Any natural flaws, wrinkles in a woman’s skin are airbrushed out.
The scariest part is most men and women do believe that those images present a real beauty. So, what happens to girls and women who don’t measure up when it comes to their looks?
They just torture themselves physically and psychologically for their failure to achieve such standards and continually feel self-doubt and self-hatred.
In reality, by presenting idealized images, beauty product and fashion advertisers seek to persuade customers that they will look younger, slimmer and more beautiful if they use their product or wear their clothes.
In other words, marketers focus on the psychological emotions of the consumer when advertising beauty products. So, the hope that products will make them look better pushes women and girls to flock to stores, spas, and clinics seeking beauty enhancements.
In fact, because of the movies we watch, the ads we see and the stereotypes that surround us, we as consumers lose the distinction between the real view of beauty and the idealized image that is difficult and costly to achieve and impossible to maintain.
Dear women, just keep in mind, the women we see in advertising seem perfect but are just airbrushed and photo-shopped beyond recognition.
The standard of beauty portrayed in the media is something women strive for but is truly unattainable because no one is flawless and eventually everyone ages.
Different cultures, different times, different beauty stereotypes!
Looking at the portraits of some of the most beautiful women in history it is pretty hard to understand why men were so impressed and carried away by those women.
The thing is that over the course of history, beauty ideals for women have changed drastically. So perhaps 50 years later the coming generation won’t understand why Kim Kardashian was a real obsession in the 2010s with her large breasts, a big butt and on the other hand with her flat stomach.
And this is due to the fact that beauty ideals are ever-changing. Certain traits are considered beautiful and others aren’t depending on time and culture/country.
Taking a look at what being “beautiful” means beyond our borders will help us understand that beauty across the globe couldn’t be more different.
Beauty Myth #1: Beauty stereotypes in the West
For example, reading western magazines is enough to understand that Westerners value the aesthetic of a tall, slender woman with delicate features. A natural beauty and minimal or no-makeup appearance is what Europeans appreciate most.
That’s why #iwokeuplikethis! hashtag is so popular among Europeans.
Beauty Myth #2: Beauty stereotypes in Russia
On the other hand, Russian women take very good care of their appearance. They spend a lot of time and money on makeup and beauty products.
…in my country, women spend a lot of time on beauty rituals and take very good care of themselves. Natural beauty is carefully cherished and is brought to perfection by make-up, clothes and the unique combination of little things that are called “personal charm.Irina Shayk, Russian-born supermodel
Russian women who are deemed the most beautiful are tall and slim with bright blue or green eyes, high cheekbones, and full, plump lips.
Beauty Myth #3: Beauty stereotypes in Brazil
In Brazil, as well as in South America in general, thicker, more muscular legs and hips are the focus here, with particular attention being paid to the butt.
If exercise and diet don’t help Brazilian girls to achieve enviable beach-bodies, they are willing to go under the knife for implants designed to perk up those trademark South American assets.
Despite the efforts Brazilians put, there’s surely something sexy and confident about these South American stunners.
Beauty Myth #4: Beauty stereotypes in India
The ideal woman in India has almond-shaped eyes, a sharp nose, dark brows and fair skin. Did we miss anything? Sure we did! Hair is the most important and enviable trait of the modern-day Indian beauty.
Do you want thick and lustrous hair? Then use coconut oil. Massaged into the scalp, the oil will provide a deep conditioning treatment and condition your hair back to health. This is how Indian women maintain their trademark locks.
Beauty Myth #5: Beauty stereotypes of Mursi tribe in Ethiopia
The Mursi tribe in Ethiopia perhaps seriously takes the phrase “beauty is pain”. They have rather unusual beauty expectations, which include scarification and lip plates. Oftentimes these clay plates will mark rites of passage for women, who start wearing them around 15 years old.
After getting acquainted with beauty standards in different parts of the world and seeing so many photos of beautiful girls it’s easy to feel down about your appearance.
But remember, beauty standards are always changing. So, comparing yourself to others doesn’t do any good. The most beautiful thing about you is the thing that makes you different.
Detrimental Consequences of the Beauty Myth
Beauty myths and beauty stereotypes have a more serious impact on women and young girls than it may appear at first glance. From a young age, girls are presented with ideas of beauty. Barbie dolls and Disney princess stereotypes are good examples of this.
In fact, Barbie doll represents an unattainable body image. An interesting article called “The Scary Reality of a Real-Life Barbie Doll” by Galia Slayen reveals the negative body image that Barbie promotes.
According to the author, Barbie stands about six feet tall with a 39” bust, 18” waist, and 33” hips. These are the supposed measurements of Barbie if she were a real person. In short, she would fit the criteria for anorexia.
This is one of the first examples of “beauty” that girls see. Next ones are Disney princess stereotypes. Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, and Belle are all searching for their true love and waiting to be saved by a prince charming.
Each of these Disney princesses is white, tall and thin, and of course has a small waist. Each princess is beautiful and unrealistically close to perfection.
So what’s the hidden message of Disney films?
- Outward beauty is what makes you special,
- attractiveness is synonymous with happiness,
- being thin and white is what makes women beautiful and valuable.
So, what if your kid doesn’t measure up Disney princess stereotypes? The odds are she will suffer frustration due to concerns about her appearance. She will feel insecure and easily become vulnerable.
Under the power of beauty myth, many children are involved in worrying about their appearance to such an extent that it restricts them in their personal development.
Can it Lead to Anorexia or Bulimia?
So, the energy that might be used to further positive goals is replaced with another priority. Women and girls are willing to pay from their own income large amounts of money for cosmetic products, cosmetic interventions, including risks posed by plastic surgery and dieting.
That’s why during the past decades, cosmetic surgery became the fastest-growing specialty and eating disorders became much more common than ever.
Eating disorders are an even more serious consequence of the beauty myth, which increasingly younger and younger girls face.
Anorexia, bulimia, exercise addiction and other impacts of the beauty myth threaten not only the ambition and income of women and girls, but their health and even lives.
This may sound kind of sad, but hey, quit sulking. Once again keep in mind!
- Only one standard can’t define femininity and be imposed on a certain percentage of women.
- Many of the beauty standards in the world are unattainable.
- No matter tall or short, a little chubby or slender, everyone is beautiful in his or her own way.
It doesn’t matter what magazines, social media, or your colleagues have to say about your beauty. You can find beauty everywhere, especially in the things that make you different from everybody else.
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