Introduction played a leading role in shaping

Introduction

Although
beauty is an inalienable attribute that women hold so dear, the manipulative
advertising and unrealistic expectations characterizing its quest come with
regrettable consequences. The present society is typical of a culture where
beauty matters. As such, people feel compelled to try new practices to achieve
unattainable standard of beauty (Rose). The media has played a leading role in
shaping people’s understanding of what beauty is and the products they need to
purchase to achieve it. Both digital media and print media showcase airbrushed
images and modified photographs of celebrities to compel viewers to strive to
their standard (Bernard).

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People value beauty so much that it
compels them to act without weighing the ultimate price they have to pay. The
impact is notable in various aspects of life, including the probability of
securing a job, getting a romantic mate, and even attracting a marriage partner
(Alkon 2). Right from childhood, the society fine-tunes the girl-child to
believe that appearing to be physically attractive overrides the inner
character. In this regard, many childhood stories, magazine images, dolls,
adverts, and movies exaggerate the subject of beauty. As such, companies lure
women and girls to look beautiful by selling cosmetics, diet pills, personal
care products, and emphasizing the need for body exercise to maintain an
attractive shape (Diller 1). For example, most advertising companies use
manipulative advertising strategies involving distorted images of models and
celebrities that mount pressure on women and young girls to tone their bodies
to meet such unrealistic standards of beauty. Against this backdrop, this paper
is of the view that although most cultures highly regard beauty especially for
women, the unrealistic goals and distorted opinions about this subject have
regrettable consequences on people.

Image
Manipulation Influence the Youth Negatively

Many
questions surround the modern day photography and advertising. Photoshop
technology, for instance, alters the body images on photographs to create
practically unachievable standards that tempt the audience to try them in real
life. With this kind of technology, wrinkles and acne are kept at bay.
Opponents of Photoshop technology posit that these practices set unrealistic
standards, which expose women and girls to daring behaviors (Diller 1). The
smooth, soft, and attractive looks that Photoshop technology gives celebs make
people engage in extreme practices aimed at removing wrinkles, pounds, and
acne.

Image manipulation associated with the
idealistic pursuit of beauty contribute to eating disorders and emotional
problems. A plethora of literature has linked eating disorders and
psychological problems with exposure to the media (Diller 2). While celebrities
such as musicians, actresses, and models seek technology to alter their images,
their audience become obsessed with their looks. Diller argues that new digital
cameras, photographic digital printers, and other powerful editing tools for
body manipulation set unrealistic body standards for people (2). Therefore,
alteration of photography subject people, especially the youth, to unnecessary
pressure to modify their bodies to achieve the shape and look that they see
encounter in the media.

Moreover, these activities impact
significantly on childhood development. The American Medical Association (AMA),
cited in Diller has recently made a move to raise public awareness about the
consequences of image manipulation on childhood development (3). Based on their
argument, unrealistic imagery is partly blamed for some of the adolescent
health problems characterizing the modern society. AMA underpins its arguments
on psychological and sociological issues associated with Photoshop and other
body manipulation techniques used to achieve ideal beauty.

It is imperative to underscore that people
feel excessive pressure about their bodies because of the unachievable demands
for beauty. Nothing is more disastrous than undergoing radical body
transformation through plastic surgery due to unrealistic pressure to achieve
ideal body image portrayed in the fictional world (Rose). Today, the world is
witnessing an escalating number of people transforming their bodies through
cosmetics and plastic surgery due to the influence of advertising industries
distorting their understanding of beauty. People engage in self-destructive
practices aimed at enhancing face value at the expense of health.

Unrealistic Standards for
Beauty Subjugate Women

The
idea of ideal beauty in the modern society is a plot aiming to ensure women
remain politically, economically, and sexually subjugated to men (Alkon 2).
Naomi Wolf, cited in Alkon (2) is of the view that the idealistic standards for
beauty keep women busy with their bodies leaving them with little or no time to
engage in political action. From this viewpoint, beauty is a patriarchal
invention. It makes women insecure and inadequate. Moreover, their concern for
body shape compels them to diet making them too weak to stand up for what they
want (Alkon 2). As women strive to conform to the Western standards of beauty,
they embrace unhealthy eating habits, typical of harsh diets lacking valuable
nutrients required for efficient body functioning and health.

Secondly, dishonesty about beauty leads to
extremism that expose women to life-threatening acts of desperation achieve
unattainable standards. Women struggle with age and try to remain young.
However, makeups and plastic surgery do not make an old woman younger. Instead,
they make a woman be an object of pity rather than an object of desire (Alkon
3). Plastic surgery, for example, creates stigma because people regard those
who have undertaken it to be striving to fill some void in them. The beauty
standards they endeavor to meet are so high that they always feel inadequate
and full of imperfection. As such, women desiring to keep up with the beauty
standards of the contemporary world live in a world devoid of realities about
themselves.

Furthermore, distorted perception of
beauty compels people to live with the hope that they will one day look better
than their original form. The sad part is that these standards reduce women
into objects that must modify their appearance to appeal to men. As such, men
perceive them as sex toys that must appear physically attractive (Rose). Women
need to be genuine about beauty and desist from pursuing beauty without
direction. In France, for example, women consider beauty as the conduit to
love, sex, and relationships (Alkon 4). They understand beauty from a natural
standpoint, adopting healthy approaches to cultivate this virtue. Thus, they
take pleasure in nurturing their appearance naturally. Therefore, being honest
about beauty will help women to make informed decisions about their actions to
improve their appearance.

Economic, Social, and
Political Impact of Unrealistic Pursuit for Beauty

A
shift from self-improvement through good works to the pursuit of beauty among
women promotes colonization, commodification, and reshaping of the body in the
market. The unprecedented growth of beauty industry signifies a radical shift
in the marketplace. Advertisers are increasingly raising the bar for beauty by
using unnaturally thin models and photo-altering technologies to sell beauty
products (Brichacek and Robert 2). Thus, it is irrefutable that commercial
interests dominating the understanding of beauty have exacerbated the quest for
beauty products, some of have negative consequences.

Moreover, the emphasis on outward beauty
undermines essential attributes that define a person. Although outer beauty
makes a person attractive, what cements a relationship are the unseen traits,
which are often overlooked. Dutton cited in Brichacek and Robert (4) identify
human personality as an essential dimension of beauty. According to this
scholar, traits such as generosity among other characteristics play a
significant role in defining beauty. Viewing beauty entirely on physical
appearance ignores this vital dimension (Brichacek and Robert 4). Thus, raising
the standards for beauty without paying regards to the character is vanity.
People need to be holistic about beauty.

The pursuit of beauty also comes with
economic impacts. With the increased emphasis on outward beauty, annual
expenditure on beauty products is worrisome. Estimates on yearly household
expenditures reveal that women spend more than seven billion dollars annually
on beauty (Rose). Nevertheless, the last decades have witnessed a change among men
too. Men are also obsessed with their look are spending as much as women on
products and procedures aimed at improving their appearances.

The argument against impractical pursuit
for beauty is incomplete without considering the short-term and long-term health
risks. Most of the practices linked with the desire to achieve ideal beauty
impact on health negatively. For example, there are rising concerns about
diseases affecting the central nervous system arising from practices seeking to
treat wrinkles (Bernard). Secondly, cosmetic surgery also comes with unbeatable
risks including infection and nerve damage. Furthermore, cases of skin cancer
are escalating, thanks to the dangers of over-exposure to artificial or natural
ultraviolet radiations linked with the hunt for ideal beauty (Bernard). It goes
without mentioning that the quest for perfect beauty also comes with unhealthy
weight loss practices, which adds to the list of life-threatening practices
therein.

Conclusion

If
the modern trends on beauty remain unchecked, many people will suffer
dissatisfaction with their bodies and continue pursuing beauty through poor
dieting, cosmetic surgery, and application of cosmetic products that change
their look without knowing the underlying negative impacts. Throughout the
discussion, the paper illustrates how the unrealistic standards of beauty
expose people to overambitious dreams of achieving ideal beauty. The following
arguments support the position against a skewed view of beauty. First,
unrealistic standards lead to psychological and sociological problems among
women and adolescents who feel that they have to achieve the shape and looks
they see in magazines and reality shows. Consequently, they engage in dieting
behaviors and consumption of cosmetic products that affect their health
negatively.

Secondly, beauty standards subjugate women
politically, economically, and socially. Women spend significant time on
improving their physical body instead of spending their energy and resources on
meaningful political, social, and economic progress. Moreover, they remain to
be objects of sexual attraction and must look attractive to secure a place in a
relationship. In this regard, women believe they must improve their body image
to become sexually attractive. Furthermore, unrealistic standards of beauty
promote colonization, commercialization, and commodification of the body with
the advertising companies using different techniques to improve images to sell
cosmetic products.

Finally, as the cosmetic industry
continues to enjoy booming business courtesy of false advertising through
distorted images, young people and women remain enslaved in the quest to
achieve ideal beauty. While this paper agrees that beauty is a good virtue to
uphold, people risk suffering dire consequences of uninformed practices of
self-improvement perpetuated through distorted and unrealistic expectations
about beauty.