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Alee-Sha Steward

SWC 100

Dr. Kelley

June 11, 2009

The Image of Beauty

A picture can say a thousandwords. Throughout time,art has been used as a form of non-

verbal expression. The artist is capable of sharing their point of view through art with his

viewers; opening and expanding their viewers’minds to ample possibilities and questions. One

may be pondering what inspired the artist? What point is the artist trying to come across? If

something was added or taken away from the picture,would the meaning be the same? These are

all question that a viewer may ask while looking at a work of art. These are the same questions

Ipondered while looking at the Color Photograph from Mexico and California, Circa 1950

collection. A famous photographer by the name of Paul Outerbridge took amazing pictures that

centered on Mexico and California. Many have seen America’s impact on Mexico culture

throughout the collection.

One picture that stood out in particular to me is the women in red scarf Mexico; which

happens to be one of his more popular pieces. By examining the picture, I first noticed the

contrast. The woman in the picture seems distressed, timid and maybe a little bit embarrassed.

In comparison to the woman in the portrait behind her, she portrays beauty, sociality, and

confidence. Moreover,the women in the portrait behind her eyes are closed and it made me

realize that society may be blinded by the fake portrayal of beauty. According to Princeton

University, beauty is defined as “the qualities that give pleasure to the senses” Which leads me to

wonder what or shall I say who determines beauty? The image of beauty can be different

depending on race, culture, and geographic backgrounds. Since the beginning of time the image

of beauty has went through several transformations. According to Duke University “the

alteration of appearance through the use of cosmetics has been a practice for thousands of years”.

Both men and women, but mostly women, have feltobligated to change their personal

appearance. Throughout history you can see several attempts on behalf of people trying to

obtain this perfect image of beauty. In the early nineteenth century, society has deemed it

acceptable to bleach, or in more correct terms,use a “whitening agent” to lighten the color of

their face. Chinese culture believes that smaller feet are “more attractive.” To accomplish this

look Chinese women practice foot binding. In western civilizations,women go to extreme

measures to meet the superficial standards that society upholds as beauty. Through plastic

surgery and extreme dieting, women damage their bodies while trying to obtain a level of

perfection that is unrealistic.

Individuals give the media the authority to determine the definition of beauty. Whether its

fashion, politics, beauty, or what is socially acceptable,the media plays a major role in these

subjects. For Instance, the Maxim Hot 100: a list of the top one hundred female celebrities. This

is not based off of their skills, impact on the community nor salary. It is simply based on their

physical appearance. Young girls and women feel obligated to try and meet this artificial level of

perception. Everyone has flaws to their appearance; most celebrity photos are edited because of

this reason. Thismeans young girls and woman are trying to meet a level of perfection that does

not even exist.

Within the photograph, you can see many comparisons. Both women are wearing red,

have red lipstick, and look as if they are on their way to a party, yet one is smiling and the other

is not. As much as she tries she would never look like the painting that stands behind her. Now

all that is left to do is let the past be the past and leave all the insecurities behind her. If the

women in the picture had more confidence in herself,her inner beauty would have a possibility to

shine. .

Now the real question is who are we trying to impress? Why do women go through these

extreme measuresto obtain such beauty? Most women believe that the more attractive they look

the more appealing they would become to the opposite sex. Secondly, they believe that they can

generalize beauty. There is a saying that goes “one man’s trash is another man’streasure”. What

one person may find beautiful another may find as average or even ugly. Women who are way to

hard on themselves fail to realize that beauty can only get you so far. When you portray

confidence, and have a positive attitude people are more likely to want to be around. Having a

lack of confidence and negative attitude towards life is not appealing,no matter how beautiful a

person is people are more likely to become distant.

Women try to compare themselves to other women,and impress them too. Beauty is not a

war between men vs. women but in all actuality it’sbetween women vs. women. Women care so

much about what other women think of them that they are willing to go above and beyond to be

socially acceptable or “beautiful.” For instance,the reason why women get their nails done or

wear make-up is to actually impress other women. Most guys do not care about any of these

things and prefer to see women being natural, yetwomen spend money to get them done just so

another female can say “I like your nails” or “your make-up looks flawless.” In other words,

women prioritize the perception that other women have of them more than they do men.

The image in the background symbolizes the media. By looking at the picture you’re

only seeing one point of view (positive). A more glamorous persona of what beauty is. On the

other hand, one must take into consideration the side that’s hidden and what exactly that may

symbolize. Hidden side can be her hiding her emotional baggage and the process that it took to

obtain her beauty. The colors usedin the portrait are very bright. This can become distracting to

the human eye. You’re so absorbed in the use of colors that you can fail to realize the true side

of the story. The media has the power and the resources to cover up imperfections, but the

women in the real world have to fend for themselves. She has no one to turn to cover or

diminish the appearance of her imperfections. Making herself feel more vulnerable to critic from

her peers, friends, family and even society.

In a society today, where there is so much going on,women are having the same problems

now as they did thousands of years ago. The media is not helping with this dilemma. Displaying

false images of beauty and making women feel uncomfortable in their own skin is the

unintentional role of the media. Women need to let their inner beauty shine and not worry about

what other people think of them. The women in the picture could have appeared just as beautiful

as the portrait if she had shown more confidence in herself. The moral of the story is not to let

the media or society determine your views on beauty because true beauty comes from within.

Comments 5, 15 and most especially 23 are KEY to the development and revision of this paper.

The first thing I would do would be to remove all the informality from the paper (and the smaller

errors that accompany this). This will immediately help force you to draw better conclusions and

to write things out less casually.

The second and most crucial thing would be to think in terms of how you can cut the general

discussion of beauty (that doesn’t relate directly to the image) in HALF at least so that you drive

this paper with a discussion of the image. My comments might well help with this.

Though the paper is not ready to be graded I do think there is much you can do here in the way

of revising. The images are well chosen and the general organization could work if you set things

up much more clearly in your thesis and then offered more evidence within the image and more

context from the collection. Keep at it for sure.

Work Cited

Princeton WordNet.Dictionary.WordNet.
< wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn> July 5, 2009.
Lydia Boyd. “Brief History of Beauty and Hygiene Products”. Duke Library. Feb.
5, 2008.

< http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/adaccess/cosmetics.html>
July 5,2009