How popular culture effects beauty trends and the pressure we let it put on us and our daughters. Popular culture today sends mixed messages to young women on the subject of beauty.
On the one hand, there is the indirect—but very real—pressure to be as drop-dead gorgeous as the supermodels and actresses whose images pervade our lives through magazine ads, billboards, TV shows, movies, and now even via our home computers.
Frankly’, this media-driven beauty blitz sets a standard that no woman can hope to attain. After all, even the most striking professional models, who start out with a high degree of natural beauty and spend hours every day focusing exclusively on their looks, don’t pop out of bed at 6 A.M. ready to face the camera.
They, too, must weather bad hair days, cope with skin problems, watch their weight, and deal with insecurities about their appearance far more often than the smiling, self-assured images on the magazine covers suggest.
In fact, if a model strolled past you in a busy mall, wearing her ordinary clothes and light makeup, our guess is that you wouldn't find it easy to distinguish her from dozens of other attractive women who just happened to be shopping at the same time.
Hey, ideals are great. They give us something to shoot for. But when you combine an unrealistic standard of feminine beauty with a culture that puts a premium on the appearance of its women, the results can be damaging and, in some cases, devastating.
Consequently, many teenage women feel that they can never look quite good enough, and thus suffer from unwarranted feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
On the other hand, young women who are fortunate enough to be blessed with good looks may face the equally pervasive— and much more direct—pressure of old-fashioned human envy. It is a sad fact of life that people will both admire and despise you for your strengths, no matter what form they take.
For every beautiful woman who is unfairly labeled as a "ditz” or "dumb blonde,” there is an athletic young man somewhere being called a "stupid jock” and a future molecular biologist whose classmates dismiss her as a "geek.” In the end, it seems, you just can’t win.
You are encouraged by the culture around you to be as physically attractive as a Glamour cover girl, but not so attractive as to arouse the envy of your peers.
Further, you are expected to attend to your appearance and attire to a degree that no man would ever dream of, yet still find time to excel in school, stay fit, hold down a part-time job, and be helpful around the house. What a load! Adults who say that teen life is a breeze have forgotten what it’s like to be a teen.
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