Friday, February 29, 2008

The Culture of Beauty

I've been wanting to talk about this since I first read it in the text, but I went to Dallas last weekend and didn't get to post a blog, so this will be my late blog.
"Gal has plastic surgery 18 times - to become a real-life Barbie" (p. 260)
I know this sounds ridiculous to some of you and it's absurd to think that people can actually do this to their bodies, but the interesting part to me was how common plastic surgery has become in other parts of the world. Particularly, it is absurd how plastic surgery has taken over the people of Venezuela. I found some interesting facts about Venezuela that I thought were worth mentioning:

  • There are more beauty salons and spas than drugstores in Caracas.
  • A popular cosmetic surgery gift for “quinceanera” is a boob job.
  • Women in Venezuela beat every other Latina when it comes to cosmetics.
  • It seems that Venezuela dominates the world in beauty pageant contestants. The country can claim to have as many as four Miss Universe, five Miss World and four Miss International titles. Plus, many contestants reach very close to winning the title.
  • Former Miss Universe Irene Saez became a mayor and almost the president of the country in 1998 (many analysts believe that if she was not contesting against Hugo Chavez, she would have won).
I personally don't believe that last part, but whatever the case is, it's a fact that Venezuelans are obsessed with plastic surgery! And it's a very interesting point that plastic surgery and beauty pageants were both mentioned within a couple of pages of each other in VAS, and in Venezuela there is obviously a direct correlation between the two.

Beauty has evolved from the ideal of big heavy women that clearly look like they can feed themselves to the ideal of scrawny plastic women. Women (and men) are willing to sacrifice their own familiar faces and bodies and put themselves in a vulnerable position (i.e. an operating room) to look like what society believes is beautiful TODAY. In the past 50 years alone, we have changed our ideas of beauty, so what is to say that in ten years we won't be going for a different look. The more available that surgery becomes and the more people start to look "ideal" the more quickly that our new concept of "ideal" will arise, and then people will have wasted thousands of dollars to look like something that is past its prime.

Plus it brings about a million questions of morality and issues like "is this really beautiful?" Some people like to believe that they're not attracted to women that get plastic surgery because it looks fake, but clearly it works right? I don't know. In a sense I think it's twisted and perverse but in another sense it's science and evolution and... it's interesting. Also, people are free to do what they want to themselves so who am I to judge?


Brian M said...

It's kind of scary to think about how we might view beauty in the future. Any extreme that can be thrown out that pertains to physical features could eventually be viewed as beautiful. I don't think society will ever stop trying to be "beautiful" this will lead to some sort of acceptance. However, the concept of beauty is going to continue to change and, with that, so are the people that must have beauty.

Ana said...

I can't wait for the day when the standard of beauty is a fat, pimply, dry haired, short, stubby, big nosed, crooked yellow teethed, smoker girl.
I hear in 2019 that's what's going to be the it girl.

emma said...

i read an article that discussed anorexia in young women. when you talked about people utilizing plastic surgery to make themselves more beautiful, it correlated a lot with many points in this article. anorexia became a big 'trend' in the early 1900's (1910-1920's) in large part due to the fashions of the time. flapper dresses were the craze and they looked best on flat, lean, curve-less women. and from there it just escalated because if you wanted to wear the latest fashion fresh off the runway, your body needed to conform to the clothes, not the other way around. this is also the time that standardized sizing began and more women started shopping for ready-to-wear clothes rather than having their clothes personally made for them. so women wanted to be able to fit into smaller sizes and would turn to anorexia to achieve this goal. it's just interesting to see the extremes that people will go to in order to feel 'beautiful.' it's not necessarily science nor evolution, but it's still an extreme action meant to alter someones body in order to feel good about looking at themselves.

Lucia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucia said...

These statistics are startling. I am really glad you shared them with us; it truly brings to light the emphasis placed on physical "beauty."