Thoughts on Pop Culture and the Beauty Myth

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This advertisement was taken from a Victoria’s Secret magazine (this is a digital version), and it screams infantilization to me. The outfit is provocative but this dress is often called a “baby doll” dress, so in that sense, it is already an indication of the look they are attempting to achieve. She is softly caressing her cheeks and standing in an unnatural stance. She is wearing a little tiara like a 10 year old would at her birthday party, and it just seems all too implying. The soft pink and the tan skin, the ultra thin waist and the long golden locks of hair, it all is meant to make women feel insecure and dissatisfied with their bodies and appearance. The dress itself is too short to actually be useful for wearing outside, and the sexual glare makes it difficult to have “clean” thoughts about this model. There is nothing wrong with thinking about things sexually, but I believe these types of images promote negative sexual behavior that may very well be acted out onto young women and children. This model is also clearly a double 0 and has a bust size that is not naturally achieved. She is one solid tan color, and most people are naturally patchy. This is not an attainable body type and her waist clearly appears digitally altered.

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This is a Jeans advertisement I saw while shopping online one time, and it completely unnerved me. The position that she is put in is seemingly sexual in nature and she is in an even more unnatural position than the model in the previous image. She is softly caressing herself with the light touch of her fingertips and she is flawless by media standards. The image itself makes it hard to look at anything other than her behind, and its almost as if she is floating because lord knows I can’t possibly hold myself up in that type of position. The image places words near her behind in order to draw our eyes to that focal point. The entire image is light and her jeans stand out making it impossible to look elsewhere. I just dislike that the image is meant to induce some type of aggressive sexual comment of harassment by young onlookers.

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I actually found this ad in one of my older magazines, and it always makes me laugh because NOBODY LOOKS LIKE THAT AFTER EATING A BURGER. And I. Mean. Nobody. If you haven’t seen the commercial of her washing a car, getting sudsy, then taking a bite out of that burger, then you are just not on this planet. The harmful thing about this image is that it says “She’ll tell you size doesn’t matter. She’s lying.” First off, I didn’t know burgers had to be sexual. Secondly, she is in a seemingly vulnerable state in which she is only thinking about “size” and the whole image just makes me uneasy. She has a hand on her hip, just barely grazed by her fingertips, and a delicate handle of the burger. She is looking away, unprepared for anything that might be coming. It is bothersome to be because it portrays all women as weak and malleable. Her one-piece is leaving little to the imagination, and it draws our eyes to her body parts that are comprehended subliminally as dissected parts.

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The purpose of pop culture is to be a form of entertainment. It is something that Zeisles states is meant to not be taken as seriously, making it harder to pinpoint flaws and indicate how certain aspects of it are harmful to our society. My worst memory of women in pop culture is when lady gaga said “I’m not a feminist. I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture – beer, bars, and muscle cars.” This made me cringe and it was probably something I took too much of an offense with. She is supposedly an advocate of equality, LGBTQI rights, but she is so against something she clearly doesn’t understand. I haven’t been able to see the recording of her saying this, and I was reluctant to use it because many things I read online are untrue. However, I have read this from many valid sources, and thus felt I must include it. Even if she didn’t say this, she should at least say that she is a feminist and resents that assumption. It was upsetting because anyone who is a social activist should not pick and choose; we all need our rights and if you want me to fight for yours then you’d better do the same for us.

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My happiest moment in pop culture was when Amy Poehler and Tina Fey took the stage at the golden globes and restored faith in female comics. Seth MacFarlane was quick to pick on women and assume they weren’t funny enough, but Tina and Amy received much more publicity and good reviews than he did during his pity hosting of the globes. These women are monumental because they are able to make anything and everything humorous and people don’t seem to hold them up to the same standards as other women. They are paving the way for female actresses, celebrities, and citizens all over. People are calling Tina and Amy the best hosts of all time; best being a title that people are often reluctant to award women.

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To understand the beauty myth, we must first acknowledge that universal beauty doesn’t exist. Wolf discusses this in the text, and puts emphasis on the fact that it is socially constructed. The talks about how different cultures admire different things as beauty symbols, such as droopy breasts or a fat vulva. There has always been some sort of beauty myth, but our current beauty myth is a modern invention. The idea that the symbol of beauty is a western platonic women is unrealistic. Western women can be best weakened psychologically, and the result of establishing a narrow beauty standard results in many negative things. We invest way too much into the diet industry, plastic surgery industry, and cosmetics industry. By creating walking talking replicas of the ideal woman, we have materialized these female aspects and thus make it even more psychologically damaging. We are meant to adopt these physical attributes in order to be deemed beautiful. I completely agree with her argument because we all undergo this issue. Even men are being targeted by this, and they have only recently begun to understand the negative impacts of this.

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One thought on “Thoughts on Pop Culture and the Beauty Myth

  1. Just got around to reading this and I love that you used Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as your favorite moment in pop culture history. I totally agree with you that people just assume women comedians aren’t funny or are annoying and I love that you brought light to this situation. Loved your whole post.

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