beauty is not defined by what you see
in ads, what is it defined by? The truth
is that beauty is subjective -- people
in different parts of the world have
different opinions on what is attractive.
to Elaine Hatfield and Susan Sprecher,
authors of Mirror, Mirror...The Importance
of Looks in Everyday Life,
"People in different cultures do not even
agree on which features are important,
much less what is good-looking and what
is not." In Africa, for instance, large
lips are considered attractive, so the
girls in a certain tribe insert wooden
disks in their lips to accentuate the shape.
Among the Padaung women of Burma, long
necks are considered beautiful, so girls
wear stacks of heavy brass or iron rings
as necklaces to stretch the skin and vertebrae.
addition, beauty ideals have fluctuated
over time. For example, in some parts
of the world centuries ago, heavy people
were considered most attractive. Why?
Food was scarce, and overweight people
were obviously well off, while thin people
were seen as malnourished and poor.
ancient Chinese believed that small female
feet were superior to large feet and
a sign of high class. This led to a custom
(albeit cruel and painful) of binding
the feet of infant girls to prevent them
the United States during the 1920s, it
was fashionable to have small hips, but
in the 1950s, a more voluptuous look
was in style.
you can see, attractiveness is not easily
or even consistently definable.
you're probably thinking, so beauty is
subjective. But right now, how do I change
the way I feel about my face, hair, or
body? You may not love everything about
your appearance, and that's fine -- neither
do most people. There is nothing wrong
with putting your best foot forward each
day through such tactics as wearing flattering
clothes or putting on makeup. Just remember
that your true attractiveness does not
stem from the sum of your measurements.
on expressing the wonderful person you
are, undertaking the exciting activities
you want to pursue, and experiencing
what brings you joy. Ironically, once
you are engaged in your life and no longer
worried about how you rate according
to superficial beauty standards, people
will notice your inner radiance and think
of you as beautiful.
Go After the Ads
group of sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade
girls participating in a Girl Scouts-Illinois
Crossroads program called Making Choices
protested companies' sexist or degrading
ads. The girls looked at magazines and
pulled out ads they found offensive,
then formed groups and wrote letters
telling the companies why. They won an
award from the Media Action Alliance
for their efforts. Here are a some of
the ads they chose and what they wrote:
Ad image: Woman getting a massage
Girls' response: A woman's naked body should
not be used to sell your product. What
does this have to do with tea? Men also
drink tea--why don't you show a naked man?
We would like to see a clothed, professional
woman in a powerful role promoting the
product. We choose not to buy Lipton tea,
and we are surprised that you would stoop
to this level.
Ad images: Young, scantily clad woman sitting
on old man's lap in little-girl pose Girls'
response: We object to your ads showing
women in sexual poses, especially the one
of the young woman sitting on the old man's
lap. We want to see women shown in a positive
manner, standing up and projecting strong
self-esteem. We want you to change your
ads or we will tell our families and friends
to not buy your products.
Ad images: Nude woman from the back with
her hands bound at the wrists
Girls' response: We object to your showing
a naked woman with her hands tied behind
her back. We want to see a complete woman,
including her face. How about showing the
product you are selling? We choose not
to buy your product until you change your
ads. We look forward to hearing from you.
Images: Couple lying on couch; woman who
looks like a mannequin
Girls' response: We don't like the way
you show women in your ads in a disrespectful
way. You show a man controlling a woman
and a woman who doesn't seem to care what
happens to her. We want to see the jeans!
We also want to see all varieties of women...all
shapes and sizes. Better role models are
very important. If you don't change your
ads, we won't buy your product. We also
plan on telling our friends and families.