Why is it that appearance has become such a central focus in America’s society? Across the world beauty is not defined by one look or one body type or one generation. The United States has a rigid definition of what constitutes as beautiful for both men and women, and that definition has tight boundaries that exclude diversity. The media, and superficial ideals of have drastically shaped our culture to be centered on looks. Celebrities are the new standards Americans use to compare and critique themselves.
Magazines are a huge media source that plays up this idea of beauty in America. Almost every pop magazine has articles on loosing weight, keeping healthy skin, tools to looking younger and top 10 ways to be better in bed. I just read a women’s health magazine that promotes healthy ways to loose weight, healthy exercise tools to tone your body, and healthy recipes to satisfy you without “packing on the pounds”. Yet in this magazine there were at least five advertisements for diet pills, plans, and supplements. What kind of message is this sending? A magazine that promotes healthy lifestyle is also feeding into this beauty industry that excludes 90 % of Americans. In addition, the models used in these diet advertisements are skinny and toned, which thus supports this standard of beauty America has.
There are severe consequences that are coming from these ideals. I looked specifically at weight issues and the diet world. It is estimated that 8 million Americans have a form of an eating disorder, and furthermore eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It is also estimated that roughly 140,000 weight loss surgeries occurred in 2004 and 3.5 billion dollars were spent on weight loss surgeries. I would say we our idea of beauty is pretty distorted when the diet industry in America is estimated to be between 40 and 100 billion dollars.
What is beauty and how we define it does not need to hold one definition. I feel that beauty is an all-encompassing idea that doesn’t have boundaries or standards. The consequence that our socially constructed definition of beauty is having on our society is outrageous. What ever happened to the saying, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”?