She is perched at the top of a steep, concrete step, the curve of her calf accentuated by the strain of her pose. There are her legs, tan and endless; a flip of a sleek ponytail; the seductive pucker of her lips as she peeks over her shoulder and leers at the camera; the strip of her flat belly, framed by her tight black crop top and the Daisy Dukes clinging to her waist; then, finally, her perfect butt, like two crescent suns emerging from the clouds of denim.
I am almost salivating, wanting to shout, “Damn, look at her butt!” but I keep my thoughts to myself.
These words seem to have no connection at first glance. But, they are actually different female body shapes. These classifications tie into modern beauty standards and body image. Today’s society wants women to strive to have porcelain skin, be tall, and skinny but with some curve. These body standards exclusive to the diverse multicultural world we live into today. One might think that beauty standards have always looked like the traits previously described. Looking back into history through different cultures will prove this completely wrong. What society defines as beauty is a fluid idea that could change at any moment.
So, what traits portrayed the “ultimate” beauty throughout history?
An ultramarathon is the name given to any race longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). Ultramarathon length varies between 30 miles, 50 miles, 100 miles, or 100 kilometers. These races can last from anywhere between six hours and six days. They are run in loops with occasional breaks between groups of mileages. The breaks allow the runners to eat and use the bathroom. Typically, when someone mentions running, the body type that comes to mind is lean, thin and toned. Mirna Valerio does not fit into these categories. She also is not just starting her running career. She is not a “before” body type. Mirna is an ultra-runner.
We are constantly immersed in media and advertising; getting bombarded with messages even if we don’t want to. These messages often feature unrealistic beauty standards and try to convince us that we will not be happy unless we buy these products. This constant intake of messages and images has an effect on us and it is not for the better. These companies are just trying to make money and will do whatever it takes to do so. Below I have recreated popular ads that are often directed toward women to be more realistic.
John Berger in his famous television program Ways of Seeing said that, “Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.” This quote summarizes the problem of the male gaze and how it has influenced our culture. The intersection between the male gaze and the beauty industry has created a systemic expectation that women need to be beautiful in order to be successful, to have love, to have sex, and to be happy. This pits women against other women, men, and themselves, dividing them and alienating them. This is not about being confident, radiant, and beautiful on your own terms. Instead, this is about a systemic problem that women need solidarity with each other to overcome and destroy this expectation of beauty.
Colorism in Mexico today, can be attributed to the ways in which the Latin American media, until recently, featured predominantly light-skinned people in everything. From advertisements on television, billboards, to the cast of their favorite shows, and movies on television—these young brown-skinned children grew up seeing everything their parents are watching. This type of pressure can lead young women to many insecurities about their skin.
In the Mexican media, there is a prevalence of favoritism for light-skinned Hispanics and less representation for dark-skinned natives. It is concerning and yet heartbreaking when a country is prideful of their indigenous roots, but are critical of the skin color they have. The perfect beauty ideology is ingrained into the thousands of young women who believe that the whiter they are the more accepted they are in society. I have not personally experienced this, but I have seen many of my friends who go through this process. Many of their families criticized them for being dark-skinned or even praise them for being a lighter tone. I’ve seen the pressure and emotional distressed that some of my friends go through just to chase an unrealistic beauty standard. Continue reading “Beauty is Only Skin Deep”→
I was a little shaken after doing my last blog post, My Week With Makeup. It was really hard to see two pictures of me, side by side, where I looked completely different. When I looked at myself wearing makeup, I felt like I finally measured up to the other girls I see walking around campus, the girls who look flawless. I looked older wearing makeup, and certainly more put together. I have a younger sister who is seventeen, and whenever we meet new people, they assume that she is older. Why? She wears makeup, she actually curls or straightens her hair in the morning, she’s polished and flawless and put together and so people assume she is older.