7 December 2012
Perception of Beauty as Portrayed Through Media
Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder, or is it controlled by what they media portrays and says is beautiful? Every time a person watches television, they are bombarded with beautiful but unrealistic images of women. How does this affect the average woman’s view of herself and others? When dealing with the media, whether it is commercials, television programs, or music videos, there is always great emphasis on physical attractiveness. According to a study done by Dove/Unilever, only two percent of women would describe themselves as beautiful. Women do not have confidence in their self-image and Dove supports redefinition on what beauty actually is. According to author Marie Smith, Victoria’s Secret is has become a powerful company due to their marketing strategies that always involve portraying a physically attractive woman. However, Victoria’s Secret implies that their products can make any woman feel sexy even if they do not believe so. Women hold themselves to high and unattainable standards due to the way media portrays the “ideal woman”, which causes a lack in self-confidence and contentment with their image, and negatively impacts their well-being.
In a press release by Dove/Unilever on September 29, 2004, a study was done in collaboration with Dr. Nancy Etcoff, a professor at Harvard University, and Dr. Susie Orbach, a professor and author of many feminist-related books. They wanted to explore how women define beauty and physical attractiveness. With the “ideal image” being portrayed a certain way in all forms of social media, women tend to have a strict definition of beauty and do not consider themselves beautiful and physically attractive. When 3,200 women from 10 different countries were polled, only two percent considered themselves beautiful. The research included in this press release was done by a reputable research firm, StrategyOne. Dove’s use of statistics from their study provides strong evidence that supports the idea that women do not think they are beautiful and lack confidence in themselves. “Dove’s mission is to determine how women define beauty; their level of satisfaction with their own beauty; and its impact on their sense of well-being” (49).
In “Decoding Victoria’s Secret: The Marketing of Sexual Beauty and Ambivalence”, the author Marie D. Smith writes about how Victoria’s Secret has become a highly marketable and profitable company. The original store, owned by Roy Raymond, was geared toward male buyers. However, Leslie Wexner bought the six store chain and transformed it to cater to what he thought women would want. He wanted all women to be able to go to a store to buy intimate apparel that made them feel sexy instead of the normal six-pack of Hanes. Wexner designed the store to be visually appealing also. He wanted it to give off a vibe of glamour and luxury in hopes of appealing to women of all ages. Smith proposes three assumptions that she claims contributed to the overwhelming success of Victoria’s Secret. She is somewhat successful in convincing her audience based on the following three assumptions that outline the prosperity of Victoria’s Secret due to their marketing tactics: “(1) a woman’s physical beauty is an instrument for selling any product, including herself; (2) a woman is always struggling to get or hold on to the right man in order to give meaning to her life; and (3) a woman’s self-image is largely based on a male perception of her physical beauty” (Smith 58). Smith’s assumptions imply that women are not confident and struggling to feel wanted and beautiful. She shows how Victoria’s Secret marketing tactics, seen in their television and magazine ads, portray gorgeous women that have a predetermined demeanor and image.
Media causes a lack of self-confidence in women. They feel that they are expected to be more attractive than previous generations and pressured to be