Beauty Perception: Global Cosmetic Trends

Beauty on a whole cannot be avoided, different cultures and countries have an idealistic vision of what is deemed as beautiful and perfect. Some countries are offering surgery which is taking body image to a whole new level, what would be the extent of your beauty regime?

Bizarre Beauty

Believe it or not in China a sign of success can be shown by your height, the average height of females is 5ft, 2ins but what does that have to do with beauty? Well locals are putting their selves through surgery to lengthen their height, a painful measure to be perceived as successful.

Leg surgeryThe process involves the individuals legs being broken and then stretched on a rack, it involves pins being screwed into the flesh and being held into place until the desired length is achieved. Is something that sounds so painful and looks it really worth the trouble, what would happen if a trend was put into place where being small was beautiful?

If you thought that was bad in South Korea a procedure can be undertook for your jaw to be reshaped, again this involves the bones being broken and in some cases the bone can be shaven, a dangerous trend that is populating around South Korea so women can have more petite and feminine looking faces.  

In Japan nose implants in the form of dermal fillers are being placed in those that want to achieve a larger looking nose, now I’ve heard of nose reductions but making them larger seems strange to me, the dermal fillers can also be placed in the chin.

skin-whitening-cream-2In Thailand if you have light skin then you are considered to be rich as you haven’t been working in the sun all day, because of this status an increase of skin lightening cream has increased in sales. “A survey carried out by the British Skin Foundation found that 16% of
dermatologists believe lightening creams are ‘completely unsafe’ and 80% feel
they are only safe when prescribed by a dermatologist”

buttock_implant_placementsThe Large Bum Trend

Bum Implants aren’t out of the ordinary, curvier women are considered sexier in some cultures, famously known as ‘The Brazilian Butt lift’ it is becoming more popular in the UK, another dangerous surgery as reported it can kill you if not done correctly, previous stories have included the implants leaking which has gotten into the bloodstream and caused heart failure.

Stranger methods are in order in Jamaica, in a society where having a curvy body and larger bum is essential women are being driven to achieve the look by consuming “chicken” pills, this is usually something a farmer gives to their chickens in order for them to gain weight, should it really be for human consumption? However in India women are taking steroid pills in order to get larger, surely steroids is a bad idea and are harmful to the body and not worth the risk.

Overview

Whilst cosmetic surgery isn’t out of the ordinary anymore and is increasingly becoming more common, there are in fact 27,730 plastic surgeons are operating around the world, the perception of beauty isn’t reliable and can change quicker than expected so is putting your health at risk to fit the norm really worth it? Cosmetic surgery may seem like a quick fix but can hazard all sorts of risks especially if a reputable surgeon hasn’t done the procedure. People all over the world should enjoy their bodies and embrace what they have, why should it matter if you aren’t as tall as you want to be? So what if you don’t have a large bum it shouldn’t matter what we look like so long as we are confident in our own skin.

*images from Google

Distorted Body Representations In The Media

Ideology is a media concept that individuals don’t even realise is taking place in everyday life, it is a concept that isn’t going to completely disappear due to the daily heavy consumption of media.  The definition of ideology varies between different theorists but the definition which I find more simplistic is with ideology being defined as “a systematic framework of social understanding motivated by a will to power or a desire to be accepted as the ‘right’ way of thinking” (Lacey, 2009, p.100) With the above message from Kate Moss it is no surprise that the ‘right’ way of thinking is starving yourself.

Ideology can be applied to the current issue of body image as it is a major factor of representation within the media, consumers of mass media are exposed daily to advertisements using slim models or images of celebrities with the ‘perfect’ body, the images and the underlying messages represent the super skinny body images as being perfect. It is also a false representation as a lot of the time airbrushing is put into place especially in magazine photo-shoots.

The above image of Britney Spears is an example of how this false representation is used to sway us, it is somehow socially unacceptable to present her true self to the world so fans that try to emulate her figure are striving for the impossible.

Small changes have even been made to this photo of Megan Fox, personally I don’t see why the changes have been made, but its another example of manufactured Hollywood.

Another bad representation of women is being spread through the media as young teenagers are striving for an unnatural thigh gap which of course first spiralled from the media.Social media is being used by teenagers regularly to share ‘thinspiration’ images and to inspire other young women to strive for the thigh gap look; I found many of these images on the popular image sharing app Instagram, users can easily upload images onto this app using hash tags such as #thinspiration, #thighgap and other eating disorder keywords and girls can easily view these images to be encouraged and motivated to starve themselves too so that they have this popular thigh gap, a wide range of the images will be users showing their frail bodies, the body which they wish to have or words of encouragement such as ‘eating won’t make you thin.’ Not enough is being done on social media to prevent this.

The hypodermic needle theory can be linked to this current behaviour as “This theory equates the influence of media with the effect of an intravenous injection: certain values, ideas, and attitudes are injected into the individual media user, resulting in a particular behaviour” (Fourie, 2007, P.294)The current values within the media is that young women should have a thigh gap as it is perfectly normal and is a step closer to the perfect body, women are sharing the images of ‘inspiration’ as it doesn’t seem like there is anything wrong with doing so when it is spiralling out of control and resulting in young women suffering from eating disorders.

The underlying systems of ideology make media consumers feel that striving for the deemed perfect image is the right way of thinking as it is the only body image being perceived within the media currently, celebrities are slated if they gain weight or are curvy so this is shown as an incredibly negative body image to have which is why young woman are striving for the perfect size zero body.Marxist critical theory would define thinspiration as a false reality created by a distorted vision with individuals unaware of the underlying ideological system.

The Frankfurt School links pseudo-individualization to the construction of an artist’s style, through their distinct image and identity. (Hodkinson, 2011, p.109-110) This is a relevant observation as a celebrity is famed by their image and must maintain it within the public eye and young women/teenagers often take into account a celebrity role model and are influenced by them.  Currently model Cara Delevingne is the role model that teenagers are following, she is a catwalk model that a slender frame and thigh gap and teenagers are trying to emulate her, it because of her distinct slim image that she is currently in the media eye, and if her image changed then teenagers would find a new role model to emulate.

According to the Daily Mail it was said over Twitter that in order to get this slim look users would deny themselves food as they are that desperate to copy the model.  The chief executive of the eating disorder charity B-Eat had this to say “Hardly anyone has a thigh gap without being underweight or not yet fully adult” the message is quite shocking but it is being ignored due to the new vanity inspired culture, ideology will never completely disappear but the message would change if the trend was to change, if a healthy body image was promoted then individuals would strive for that.  With the increase in mass culture being accessible through social media with the message of size zero being the perfect body image then individuals will always be exposed to this negative message, they will always believe with the use of ideology that it is the right way of thinking and until the message changes then the distorted vision will stay in place.

With her curvaceous body Kelly Brook doesn’t have a thigh gap yet she is still considered stunning which shows that you don’t have to be stick thin to be beautiful, she feels comfortable enough in her body so why shouldn’t everybody else? Personally I find her curvy body more appealing than Cara Delevingne’s and think more girls should reconsider striving for an unnatural thigh gap and just feel comfortable in their own skin.

*images sourced from Google

Bibliography

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2274227/Teenage-girls-obsessed-celebrity-thigh-gaps-starving-achieve-super-skinny-look.html

Hodkinson.P (2011). Media, Culture And Society an introduction. London: Sage. 109-110.

Fourie, J, P (2007). Media Studies Volume 1: Institutions, Theories and Issues. 5th ed. South Africa: Juta Education. 294.

Lacey, N (2009). Image and Representation. 2nd ed. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmilliam. 100.