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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Essay on Cultural Artifact - Social Standard Towards Beauty

            Cultural artifacts are cultural expressions which reflect particular beliefs, values and traditions shared by a group of people.  Finding a popular belief, value or tradition in today’s society is quite easy.  One needs only to look at the magazines which are selling like hotcakes to find out what preoccupies the modern American people.  In these magazines, it is very noticeable that pictures of women who are so slim and thin grace the cover of many beauty magazines.  These women are all tall, blonde and slim.  They also have slender bodies, fair skin and long legs. 

            If pictures of these women appear on many magazines the question is: what does this reflect of the modern American society? This only means that the popular culture only considers a woman beautiful if she has the qualities of the models appearing in beauty magazines.  If a woman wants to be beautiful then she has to have the following qualities which are: tall, blonde, slim, slender body, fair skin and long legs.  It follows that if a woman does not have this physical attributes then the society does not consider the woman beautiful. 

            Why is this concept of beauty a problem? It is a serious problem because this stereotypical attitude towards women objectifies them.  It imposes a particular standard of beauty and forces and requires women to conform to this particular standard.  The society treats women as an object which must have specific qualities for her to be acceptable to the society. 

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            Those who are genetically gifted are lucky since they do not have to work hard to achieve the standard of body figure imposed by the society.  They do not have to sacrifice good and health food just so they could achieve “beauty”.  On the other hand, those women who are not genetically gifted are forced to sacrifice so much just to achieve “beauty.” They are forced to go on drastic diet which is not only unhealthy but is also ineffective.  They are also forced to resort to various drugs in the hoping of achieving “beauty” which only leads to drug addiction.  According to Medical News Today, many girls and young women in the modern society fail to realize that the “modern ideas of “beauty” can damage their bones and lead to osteoporosis” later in their life. (Beauty queens say modern idea of beauty can damage bones and lead to osteoporosis later in life” 1)

            As a result those women who fail to conform to this standard of beauty become society’s laughing stock.  In today’s society, any person who may be a little overweight is considered an obese.  Women who are overweight are forced to endure negative connotations, perceptions, attitudes and prejudices.  The reality is that overweight women are generally disliked by the society.  In school nobody wants to make friends with the overweight woman.  In school, obese children are often nominated significantly less often as best friend and rater lower in peer acceptance.  Teachers also view overweight children as more socially withdrawn and displaying less leadership in school.  Peers also describe overweight children as less physically attractive, less athletic, more sickly, tired and absent from school. (Zeller et al, 10)  Nobody wants to sit beside an overweight woman when inside the bus.  At work nobody wants to hire an overweight woman.  On the streets, everybody loves to make fun of overweight women.  In hospitals, overweight women do not get adequate respect, attention and treatment that they deserve.  The general attitude by the public towards overweight women is that people either make fun of them or angry at them.  In some studies, the public’s negative attitude towards overweight women ranks alongside alcoholics and drug addicts. 

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