Monday, May 7, 2012

Beauty Conceptions and Obsessions

Obsession with thinness is a recent phenomenon. As long as this obsession continues, young girls are likely to be at risk for eating disorders. What would it take for the culture to reduce this obsession? What people are most likely to be influential in such a change?
 Standards of beauty change according for cultural reasons, absolutely - though I have trouble understanding where the thin beauty idea originated. I don't know the source, historically. I think the obsession with thinness is directly linked to the media. After the invention of television, those behind the scenes realized how much power they had to influence American thought (particularly when it was a new phenomenon and people did not know the risks involved). The power of an aesthetic or fashion fad is much smaller when it does not have the expanding source of the media behind it. Without the media, the trend might stay on a local, or confined, level. The media multiplies its effects and the multiplied effects create new effects and further multiply the effects. The modeling industry is just now at the precipice of welcoming a difference in body shapes, yet it's still so far from embracing variety and difference. The modeling industry, as it is now, values sameness. I don't think homogeneity is a cultural phenomenon, I think it is common to humans. Were all the same when you look at us from a distance, we're infinitely different from one another when you look at us closely - cell to cell. But if you compare one cell to another, you can interpret the cell makeup as being distinct or as being similar.
It makes sense that if the sources in power tell us "THIS is beauty," that we will seek to fit that standard. We have our mindlessness and psychological obedience to thank. Those who are leaders in power are the minority, the majority of humans want to be led by a leader. Until another bold leader raises doubt in the followers, the followers will follow the most powerful leader. It takes a leader to break down the power of another leader - not a follower. It takes alternative and individualist thinking to come up with one's own standard of beauty. I think, or hope, that in time the focus will not be on the end result (of physical appearance) of something but rather on the contents and process of that something. I hope that health for health's sake will become the focus...and will take the focus off of the aesthetic rewards of health. To reduce the obsession, people need to stop supporting media sources that encourage unhealthy attitudes. They need to disempower the powerful. They have to stop buying the products, stop following the leader. They won't do so until another leader leads them to stop following. I think the media is in control right now, and it will take some kind of revolution to dismantle and reconstruct it. The people IN power - IN the media - are the ones, at this point, who are likely to influence small changes. Consider Ashley Judd, and how she spoke out about the war on women's bodies. That was just a start. The people need a powerful leader to lead them in another direction and transform the cultural norms that currently exist. Followers are not so much interested in the message of their leader as they are in the leadership of their leader, that's just how it works.

So, a leader. That's what it would take.

Oh the plight of the Leader - to be given the gift of belief and then to have it taken away. What goes up on the pedestal must come off (eventually).

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