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A Reflection: Who Defines Beauty?

By Camden Cook

Individuals growing up in the twenty–first century are inundated with information from the mass media. It’s impossible to dispute that we are greatly influenced by the ongoing stream of content presented to consumers, a large portion of which subliminally establishes unattainable standards.

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The media places a great deal of value on the concept of appearance, but it does not do a sufficient job of representing the population at large.

Take a moment to consider the icons featured in your favorite fashion magazine. These women are frequently esteemed as the pinnacle of beauty and femininity. I don’t know about you, but I tend to draw harmful comparisons when flipping through an edition of Vogue.

The fashion industry seems to be taking a stand against unrealistic beauty standards, however. One of the most notable steps forward took place a couple weeks ago in France.

The nation, an undisputed style hub, has officially passed a statute that prohibits underweight women from modeling. It also requires companies to identify any retouched photographs featured in their publications.

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Marisol Touraine, the French Minister of Social Affairs and Health, explained that “exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self–depreciation and poor self–esteem that can impact health–related behavior.” She is among the many who hope that the newly enforced regulations will spur positive change within the industry.

Many people, myself included, have been victimized by the expectations subliminally established by society.

By presenting unattainable ideals, the media fosters a breeding ground for widespread insecurity. Research conducted by Dove indicates that women are more critical of their appearances than ever before. The National Eating Disorders Association affirmed this discovery with an estimate that approximately 70 million people worldwide struggle with an Eating Disorder.

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While the notion of beauty should be recognized as inclusive, it is often referred to as an exclusionary concept. To combat low self–esteem, many celebrities have launched acceptance campaigns geared towards expanding the societal definition of beauty. Additionally, prominent brands are working to celebrate diversity by appealing to a variety of body types.

In light of these developments, I encourage you to reflect on the role that the media has played in shaping your perception of beauty. Furthermore, consider what can be done to nurture universal acceptance.

After all, the sexiest thing a woman can wear is confidence.

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