Wednesday, May 25, 2011

[[ BEAUTY CULTURE ]]

In 2010 there were more than 12 million cosmetic procedures — from breast implants to Botox injections — performed in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Meanwhile, there is at least one mother who has injected Botox into her child, a beauty pageant contestant (as seen on "Good Morning America" last week); a steady stream of models in uneasy relationships with their body weight, and magazine layouts in which skin color and body shapes have been digitally modified.


Apparently, there is an ugly side to the beauty industry. Silicon implants, nose jobs, chemical peels, tummy tuck, fat transfer, face lift, and let's not forget digital retouching.


In every generation, there is a Venus to come close to. There was a time when women were swooning in their corsets so tightly tied and now women swooning from skipping meals to keep up the stick-thin figure. Blame Twiggy!


We are not just in a world of "survival of the fittest" but also "survival of the prettiest." A study showed that a pretty face is perceived as smarter. So there goes the beauty industry exploding like a supernova. Years ago, we only hear of moisturizers, foundation, lipstick, rouge and eye shadow. Now, a modern woman's makeup bag contains at least 20 items.


Let's think again about some issues: about what we consider beautiful and why, why it is part of human nature and what role certain images and photographers and media play in our ideas about the boundaries of beauty.

Digital photography has made it easy to manipulate how people appear, resulting in unrealistic examples of beauty that may skew some people's expectations of themselves and others. It is tempting to think that the digital revolution introduced new levels of fakery, considering the effects of the globalization of Western beauty ideals. But then again, retouching and clever lighting are as old as portraiture itself. 

Such manipulation is "kind of like the apple in the Garden of Eden: it's so readily available that people use it without thinking. And I think that's had an effect. Some images in magazines, they're almost becoming illustrations instead of photographs.


And the war that pop culture wages on the female body should be looked at closely. These models are not the norm.

No comments: