Though technically correct, the definition of beauty—a combination of qualities that please the aesthetic sense— is an unsuccessful attempt to give meaning to a hazy concept. The truth of the matter is simple: beauty cannot be defined. As history has shown, beauty is malleable, shifting according to societal expectations.
Beauty in the 21st-century holds a greater weight than in years past, driven by an omnipresent force: the media. Many Americans—whether they admit it or not—are often captivated by “news” outlets, eager to learn of Kim Kardashian’s latest implants or who Justin Beiber is dating this week. Despite their entertainment value, mediums like Us Weekly and People are similar to fashion magazines in that they all promote an unrealistic and unhealthy image of beauty.
In April of 2010, Britney Spears chose to resist the media’s deceptive behavior, releasing an image of herself before and after photoshop. The distinction between the photos was more than apparent, with the latter of the two boasting slimmer thighs, a smaller waist and unblemished skin. Spears showed girls that imperfections are not something of which they should be ashamed. Imperfections are normal, even beautiful.
As of late, some magazines have begun vocally celebrating normal-sized women; however, these same magazines continue to feature stick-thin models. In the September 2009 issue of Glamour, the main story applauded healthy women and encouraged girls to be comfortable in their own skin. While, yes, this- was certainly a step in the right direction, the magazine contradicted itself a mere 35 pages later by featuring skeletal models in the issue’s fashion spread.
One store in particular—Modcloth—has begun displaying its clothing on beautiful, yet healthy-looking women, who, unlike the models of most other stores, do not fit into size 0 jeans. If the media follows Modcloth’s lead then perhaps men and women will begin to accept themselves as they are.