Emily, age sixteen, watches her favorite show, ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ once again. She is entranced as the beautiful women flash across the screen. She wishes with all of her heart that she could be as beautiful as one of these slim women. The show is interrupted by a woman with a dark complexion. “She is the symbol of beauty,” Emily thinks as the amazing J. Lo appears on the screen. Jennifer Lopez, with eyelashes longer than Emily and her mom’s combined, starts the commercial for Cover Girl makeup. Her face is radiant, with zero blemishes or faults. J. Lo’s last line remains fixed in Emily’s thoughts. “Remember, every girl wants to be a Cover Girl.” “I want to be a Cover Girl,” Emily exclaims as she turns off the television and heads to her bathroom mirror. Emily picks up the magazine lying on her counter and stares at the women on the cover. She inspects her own reflection in the mirror. With a scrutinizing glare, she examines the contours of her body, the complexion of her skin, and the color of her hair; she frowns at the girl staring back at her. Her tummy rumbles, and she picks up the half-eaten apple lying on the counter. Taking one more look at herself, she throws the apple in the trash. She will be as beautiful as one of those women, even if it kills her in the process.
For girls, and even guys like Emily, the rise in long lasting effects such as depression, anorexia, bulimia and low self-esteem is a direct result from the negative perceptions of beauty imposed by society. Society mandates what is and is not beautiful, through the use of pageants, models, celebrities, and media.
In colonial times, the harsh environment demanded men and women to both contribute to survival; society valued strong, fertile women, and strong, hard-working men (Derenne and Beresin, 2). In the 19th century, ideals were altered, and men and women both became less robust. The frailer the women, and the more knowledgeable the man, the more slavery could be justified (Derenne and Beresin, 2).The society marked by the Baby Boom era and World War II favored a more curvaceous frame for women since they had to help in the workplace while men were strong fighters of war (Derenne and Beresin, 2). Every society has had a way of torturing its men and women, whether by binding their feet, by sticking them to whale bone corsets, or overworking them to their death (Derenne and Beresin, 1). With the help from the media, contemporary culture has come up with ‘designer jeans’: the multiple pageant winners, models, and celebrities that fit in our system like our favorite pair of pants. (Derenne and Beresin, 1).
The first type of ‘designer jean’ that the media proposes, is beauty pageant winners (ourbodiesourselves.org). Beauty pageants originated as a marketing tool in 1921 by an Atlantic City hotel owner who wanted the city's tourists to remain in town longer (ourbodiesourselves.org). What was a way for the male tourists to stay in town longer? Why not expose...