Western Beauty Ideals A Cultural Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Christy Turlington explains to Elle magazine... "Advertising is so manipulative," she says. "There's not one picture in magazines today that's not airbrushed."… "It's funny," Turlington continues. "When women see pictures of models in fashion magazines and say, 'I can never look like that,' what they don't realize is that no one can look that good without the help of a computer." (Hilary 13)

That's right, the beautiful Turlington, a woman that can be said as fitting the standard ideal of American beauty, admits that it is unachievable even for her. Why? Because even she admits that she has been touched up. In a similar exercise, we can only imagine the remarkable steadfastness this act must have taken, but it shows that there is a realization that this American image is unattainable (Domar 23).

The Trouble with Persisting Ideas

Even if the mechanism behind the spread and adoption of ideas is understood, there are still knowledge gaps as to why such ideas are being adopted. Yes, modernity and mindset does contribute a lot to explain why ideas are easily adopted, but it it's the retention that becomes the mystery given the context of extreme differences in culture. Remember the Bedouin aspiration for blonde hair? This cannot be completely explained just by the need for community.

The answer to this question might be partly explained by thinking about it in terms of encoding/decoding theory, a concept that was began with Justin Wren-Lewis in 1983. Though vectors could present ideas for a particular audience, there are interactions between the content and the audience that create meaning out of the transaction (5). In this case, aside from having an open mind and a more modern culture of thinking, the idea of beauty has prescribed by new media also creates meaning for the actual individual who is reading it in whatever fashion that makes it more significant. For the Bedouin women mentioned, it is just the idea of 'escape' that becomes significant to them, the 'blonde and skinny woman' as a symbol of freedom from their dire circumstances (Huss and Cwikel 12). In this case, context then becomes the primary driving factor into the adoption of ideas, whether it's about beauty or about something else entirely. This is not to say that whole communities would follow the same pattern, but in any case the notion of context is not entirely excluded from such an explanation. For example, given the same geographical locations, there is a higher probability of also having the same cultural characteristics.

A Notion for Transformation

If context drives adoption, and modernity facilitates the spread of ideas, it may be a complex task to unravel the threads that lead to the changes seen today. It is certainly a puzzling matter to see culturally different people to aspire for something that is way out of their local tradition, i.e. A Kuwaiti woman wanting to be 'blonde', but it may also be a troubling thought to just rely on tradition and work towards what was before. In short, should cultures that are in the midst of growing modernity be wary of change? Should foreign ideals be shunned, and tradition be the rule?

Of course, this idea would be more troubling given today's world. Dixon had already seen through this problem for the constant struggle is in knowing when and how cultures should change as a consequence of new ideas (8). In this case, the first thing that should be kept in mind is to realize that changes do happen and that there will always be an overwhelming complexity when it comes to exploring the consequences of modernity. Technology is in no danger of slowing down, and the acceleration of knowledge seems to infinite -- it is better then to just accept that this is the case and wouldn't change any time soon. This is a world of constant change, so to speak.

If this is the case, if the world will continuously change at the same rate, it is then better to arm individuals to become introspective of ideas and to become reflective of the general courses of action that are open to them. The main goal for today's cultures is to allow the opportunities to make meaning out of their experiences, and to fully realize how something should go. Changes are not necessarily bad per se for it is only the consequences of misconception that would drive maladaptiveness.

How could this initiative begin? One should first capitalize on the already existing imagined communities that spread and reinforce the current standards of beauty by allowing them the opportunity to discuss the matter in a manner that will be more conducive for the growth of ideas. Instead of just becoming consumers of what's trendy, the idea of pluralizing beauty might be an innovative way of changing the cultural mindset about aesthetics. To 'pluralize' means to create a widespread acceptance that there is no single standard for beauty and that there will always be other ways to interpret the notion of being beautiful.

In short, modernity and open-mindedness could capitalize to drive culture into an entirely new direction, one which allows the acceptance of difference in whatever form it may be found. Since there is a newfound realization that the world is a mixture of different cultural beliefs, then it makes sense also to translate this thinking into the perception of beauty.

Works Cited

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso Publishing, 1991. Print.

Chernin, Karen. Hungry Self: Women, Eating, & Identity. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008

Dixon, Violet. "Understanding the Implications of a Global Village." Reason and Respect 4.1 (2008). 1-5. Web. 15 May 2011.

Domar, Allan. (Prof) Harvard Medical School. Parade magazine, October 11, 2003.

Huss, Emphrat and Julie Cwikel. "Embodied drawings as expressions of distress among impoverished single Bedouin mothers." Archive of Women's Mental Health. 11.2 (2008). Web. 16 May 2011.

Martens, Pim, Axel Dreher, and Noel Gaston. "Globalization, the global village and the civil society." Futures 42 (2010). 574-582. Web. 16 May 2011.

Mitchell, Timothy. Questions of Modernity. University of Minnesota Press, 2000. Print.

Mcguigan, Jim. "The cultural public sphere." European Journal of Cultural…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Western Beauty Ideals A Cultural" (2011, June 04) Retrieved December 11, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/western-beauty-ideals-a-cultural-42301

"Western Beauty Ideals A Cultural" 04 June 2011. Web.11 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/western-beauty-ideals-a-cultural-42301>

"Western Beauty Ideals A Cultural", 04 June 2011, Accessed.11 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/western-beauty-ideals-a-cultural-42301

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Cultural Differences of Adolescent in the United States

    Cultural Differences of Adolescent in the United States The United States, ever since the time when its history began, has been an accumulation of different cultural patterns who took refuge here for independence in expressing the thoughts. Resiliency or adaptability is featured as a phenomenon of fruit yielding adaptability in spite of difficult or intimidating surrounding. In this paper we shall analyze the cultural differences among adolescents in the country. In

  • Cultural and Construction History of

    Charles Van Doren has concluded that the Copernican Revolution is actually the Galilean Revolution because of the scale of change introduced by Galileo's work. The technological innovation of the Renaissance era started with the invention of the printing press (the Renaissance). Even though the printing press, a mechanical device for printing multiple copies of a text on sheets of paper, was first invented in China, it was reinvented in the

  • Western Religion

    Western Religion In his book, "Western Ways of Being Religious," (Kessler, 1999) the author Gary E. Kessler identifies the theological, philosophical and societal ramifications of the evolution of religion in the West. Christianity, Judaism and Islam can be traced to a single origin but their divergence has been very marked. Kessler sets his thesis very early in the book. He avers that there are two approaches to religion. One is to

  • Western Enlightenment

    Ideology in France 1848-1849: Reflections on Nationalism and Liberalism The ideology adopted in France between 1848-1849 has been described in many different ways by historians and theorists. The predominant body of research available however suggests that a liberal and nationalistic ideology reigned supreme during this time, where the middle class became much more influential. The idealisms of the romantic era are also evident in France during this period of time, and

  • Beauty and Sadness in Japanese Literature

    Beauty & Sadness in Japanese Literature My Dear Friend, I applaud you ambition to visit Japan for a summer session of study, and your focus on the distinct works of literature and art to emerge from Japanese culture is admirable. Having devoted much of my own studies to Japanese literature, both in historical and contemporary form, I can honestly say that you are embarking on a personal quest for knowledge that, while

  • Cultural Tourism Culture Tourism Research

    The Balinese seem to be coping with the tourist invasion as well as they have coped with others, that is they are taking what they want, but they are not allowing themselves to be any the less Balinese. This appears to have been the story throughout Bali's history, outside cultures came, perhaps as conquerors, perhaps only as visitors and traders, but Balinese society and culture have remained distinctive, accepting

  • Beauty Influence of Ethnic Clients

    This was a wake-up call for many and prompted them to take into consideration the problems faced by ethnic consumers at home as well. But this happened quite late considering that even after World War II, most beauty products being sold abroad had pictures of leading Hollywood stars on the packages. Max Factor was trying to cash in on the celebrity power of Hollywood stars by putting their pictures on


Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved