The Concept of Ideal Beauty

Thursday 12 June 2014

Talk about the concept of the ideal beauty and you'll get multitude of variations depending on which continent you live in. It's a topic that we can postulate for months....... Is it any wonder that the cosmetics industry is growing by leaps and bounds and projected to hit $265 billion by 2017?

On the other hand, fewer men seem to suffer from the same affliction. I often wonder if we judge ourselves more harshly whereas there's less emphasis on looks for the other sex. It's interesting how different the East and West perceive the ideal beauty to be. There are times when straddling the two different cultures makes me feel like I need to install two operating systems in my brain because they're polar opposites.

It's the pursuit of the impossible. The Asian continent wants whiter skin, larger eyes, smaller faces preferably with more angular jaw line and smaller lips. The Europeans prefer a tanned look, fuller lips and larger breasts. The only common point I can see is rhinoplasty because a narrow and sharp nose is desired by both cultures.

Is the growth of the global beauty industry fueled by our obsession for unattainable perfection? Is our self esteem linked to our self image? How is it most of the accomplished women that I know are so self conscious when it comes to their looks?

Photography: Angela Martinez


  1. Interesting post Marlene. I recently won and did a mini photo shoot with a young designer in London and her photographer. I don't think they realised I was 40 when I won, but felt obliged to point that out to them lol! Anyway chatting to the photographer and I joked please can you air brush me?! She only graduated from her photography course last year but interestingly her dissertation was about the media industry and women and how they totally manipulate commercial photos. So I guess that although I know what we see in magazines isn't real but I still want to look like the models ;-)

  2. In a nutshell from a college course I once took in social anthropology and sex.......(I'm not making this up!)

    Women are judged by their looks/beauty i.e. smooth, dewy skin, rosy lips, firm breasts, shiny hair etc...(all indicators of their youth and, thus more importantly, fertility) and men are judged by accomplishments (which is an indicator of their "alpha" qualities and ability to pass strong DNA to offspring - men being fertile their whole lives do not need to "prove" youth for this). It is rooted in our primitive brains, prevalent in every culture and probably will never change. So of course the media perpetuates it in modern times by showing young beautiful women as the desired norm.

    Oddly enough, now that I'm over 50 I am much less concerned with my looks than I was when I was younger and always felt like I didn't measure up to the beauty standard. It's ironic but I feel better in my own skin. Maybe because I don't have to 'prove" anything anymore! :) And thank God for that because it's a losing battle with age....

    I am encouraged of late, though, with the fashion media beginning to showcase "older" models a bit.

  3. In some ways I think that the manipulation of photographic imagery, for fashion and beauty, is a good thing. I now look at them and know that they are completely false so I don't feel that I need to attain that kind of perfection. I am, however, glad that I am older living in 2014. As I have said before ageing means that you can be much more chilled about self image but, having said that, I like to keep myself looking the best that I can for me. H xx

  4. That's a great post and food for thought. I completely agree that women have it harder than men, maybe because traditionally emphasis was always first on looks and not on success as it was on men. And to add that the beauty industry has an interest to perpetuate the unattainable with all the photoshopping so that they can keep selling products... It's true that different cultures have different ideals of beauty but I don't think anyone has to necessarily subscribe to one or the other because I think it's better to have one's own personal aesthetic that's open to many influences.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...