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Media Matters: Misconceptions of Beauty

Princess+Jasmine+intensely+stares+down+the+camera%2C+revealing+her+pouted+lips%2C+seductive+eyes%2C+and+stressed+hourglass+body.+This+depiction+is+an+actual+scene+in+the+movie+%E2%80%9CAladdin.%E2%80%9D
Princess Jasmine intensely stares down the camera, revealing her pouted lips, seductive eyes, and stressed hourglass body. This depiction is an actual scene in the movie “Aladdin.”

Princess Jasmine intensely stares down the camera, revealing her pouted lips, seductive eyes, and stressed hourglass body. This depiction is an actual scene in the movie “Aladdin.”

Farah Hosseini

Farah Hosseini

Princess Jasmine intensely stares down the camera, revealing her pouted lips, seductive eyes, and stressed hourglass body. This depiction is an actual scene in the movie “Aladdin.”

by Farah Hosseini, Reporter

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Seven years ago, my father asked me why I favored a certain contestant after watching the season finale of “American Idol”.  I responded that I liked her blonde locks and perfectly shaped body, but as I finished my sentence, my father looked into my eyes and taught me a truth that I still live by today: Appearance does not define beauty. In our society, however, obsessions with fixed expectations of beauty have risen and sadly, many young, impressionable teenage girls define themselves by a standard of beauty propagated by the media.

“I’m on this stage because I am a model. I’m on this stage because I am a pretty white woman, and in my industry, we call that a ‘sexy girl,’” model Cameron Russell said during her Ted Talk in 2013.

Russell described the reality of the modeling industry and pointed out that good appearances are like winning the lottery: they cannot be earned. If this concept can be so easily stated, the fact that appearance is not an accomplishment, why do beauty ideals represented on the media so easily influence teenagers negatively?

Imagine you’re scrolling through your daily Instagram feed, and you stop on a particular post with the caption “acne doesn’t make you ugly”. Solely reading the caption, one would think it is  inspirational and uplifting. However, the photo displays a selfie of a young, light-skinned woman with striking grey eyes, full, glossy lips, perfectly curled lashes, and perfectly constructed eyebrows. Subconsciously, this post says that if one has seductive eyes and pouting lips in addition to the above mentioned features, acne will not distract from their appearance. This creates an extremely narrow standard of beauty, hence why teenagers and adults struggle with self-esteem.

Moreover, our classic Disney princesses have set impossible standards of beauty that even young children seek to embody. Whether on Instagram, Tumblr, or Facebook, aesthetic drawings of Aurora are depicted with extensively plumped lips; Belle has a tiny waist and a perfect hourglass figure; Rapunzel is jutting her breasts out and is intensely staring down the screen in sexy mugshot manner. Teenagers see these portrayals and automatically believe that this is accepted as beautiful.

Even though social media platforms are meant for inspiration and creativity, unfortunately, there is an undeniable amount of negativity on the internet due to the stresses of desired, unrealistic features for young women that damage their perceptions of themselves.

Beauty should be inclusive, not exclusive and unlimited, not restricted. Beauty should incorporate diversity and should not be confined to a list of features that young women spend thousands of dollars to perfect. Although the ultimate goal is to expand the idea that beauty is not just appearance, we have to start small. To do this, we need to rid the media of these misconceptions and increase body positivity and self-love. Only then can we begin to promote developing the true meaning of the word, beauty.

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Media Matters: Misconceptions of Beauty