The Everchanging Perception Of Beauty Essay

1409 words - 6 pages

What is beauty? It seems like a simple enough question, yet it has an extremely elusive, ever-changing answer according to American society. What is “popular” or “stylish” at the moment could be completely obsolete the next. This question has plagued societies for ages and continues to motivate women all over the world go to drastic lengths in their search for beauty. As women in remote Asian villages search to attain beauty by stretching their necks with heavy metal coils (Anitei) and women in America lie in enclosed melanoma-inducing tunnels of light so they can emerge gloriously tanned (Is Indoor Tanning Safe?), God has another, far more fulfilling plan for true beauty. Beauty in American society is so fluid, elusive, and superficial that it doesn’t possibly equate to the plan that God has for women to view themselves. Real beauty comes from character, confidence, and an identity in Christ.
Over the years, what Americans have considered to be “beautiful,” as well as attitudes about how much a woman should display herself have changed drastically. Phineas T. Barnum, a founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, organized the first beauty contest in the 1850s, but was unsuccessful at first because no respectable Victorian woman of that time would be audacious enough to publicly display herself and be judged. Even though they were not asked to showcase their bodies like in modern beauty pageants, it was considered embarrassingly immodest for a woman to draw that much attention to herself (People & Events: Origins of the Beauty Pageant). Then, when beauty pageants did eventually catch on, the expectation of what women and their bodies looked like also changed. In 1930, the average body mass index (BMI) of a beauty pageant contestant was 20.8, but in 2010 it was 18.9 (Beauty Pageant Statistics). In 1993, like now, it was popular to be tan and to “lay out,” but only seventy years before that it was considered far more attractive to be a dainty “lily-white” or “peaches and cream” color (Hunt & Calenberg). Along with these changes, the attitude about what is appropriate in American society has also changed.
When the bikini debuted in 1946, no French models would wear the scandalous outfit, and the inventor had to hire a stripper to wear the suit. However, now if one travels to the beach, it is rather rare to see any female wearing anything other than a bikini (Rey). The pressures that girls and women face today in American society are unbelievable. They are compared with airbrushed models and completely unrealistic standards of beauty (DeVillers). There are 100,000 beauty pageants held in the United States every year, and each and every one of the girls competing are trying to attain the elusive prize of being considered sufficiently beautiful for the nation’s standards. This stress has consequences, and 6% of girls competing in beauty pageants suffer from depression (Beauty Pageant Statistics). If the definition of beauty is so fluid...

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