Every day, we are bombarded with unrealistic beauty images through the internet, television, magazines, billboards, and movies. When I was younger, I had no idea that what I saw was not reality. I naively thought that all the gorgeous models and actors looked that way naturally. I remember looking at magazines wondering how someone could possibly be so beautiful. The standards seemed so high and unattainable, and there was little positive representation of diverse looks, ages, or body types. The constant messages seemed clear, if you want to be successful, happy, and popular you must look a certain way. As a pre-teen and teenager, I compared myself with those images and did not feel beautiful. I felt short, plain, and not pretty, which equated to not good enough—in my mind. I figured out, much later, that the images are fake, the messages are wrong, and that I am good enough as I am.
For women, intelligence still seems to take a back seat in the media—it’s not enough if you are “just smart”, as I mention in this previous post. The message is that you have to be smart and “perfectly beautiful” to succeed or be over-the-top sexed up to get attention. Girls, boys, men, and women are still buying into the bogus images and false messages today and the effects are not good for self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, healthy body image, and respect issues.
One of my friends from Australia, who is a model, sent me the below Dove Evolution video, which exposes part of the unrealistic nature of beauty ads. This is a snippet of what really happens before an image is published. The photo is completely manipulated with image-editing software. Check this out:
Models and actors are transformed for advertisements and shows every day. They go through several hours of hair and make up, padding is used to make breasts or other body parts look bigger, and a tailor pins and cuts the clothing so they lay just so. Then the images are distorted. In many cases, hair is made to look thicker, waists smaller, necks are made to look longer, cheek bones digitally sculpted higher, facial lines are erased, eyes are made to appear larger, teeth are whitened, and silhouettes are sculpted to the “ideal”, etc. The list goes on and on. No wonder we can’t seem to look like the women in the magazines!
My purpose in writing this piece is to shed some light on what really goes on behind the scenes. As I said earlier, I really had no idea just how much time, work, and digital editing it takes to create the pictures we see in print until recently. Knowledge is power, and if we can teach our boys and girls that looks aren’t everything, and inform them that what they are seeing is a digital creation, not reality, that may help children, men, and women to embrace their authentic unique beautiful self for who they are today–unedited.