Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Beauty Myth

            This advertisement for Covergirl is a perfect representation of The Beauty Myth as described by Naomi Wolf in The Beauty Myth. According to Wolf what we as a society would consider beautiful is in fact just a cultural myth. In our society women strive to achieve an idealized beauty.  This advertisement for Covergirl featuring Taylor Swift is a good representation of the beauty myth because it covers all facets of the beauty myth. It is a make-up advertisement and it features Taylor Swift, who is young, skinny and beautiful.
            What is considered beautiful in our society today is not the same as what is considered beautiful in the past. Marilyn Monroe who was believed to be one of the most beautiful women in the world would be considered chubby in today’s society. This is evident by comparing Marilyn Monroe to one of the current supermodels Gisele Bundchen. It is evident that being skinny is valued much more in the modern representation of beauty than it was fifty years ago. Wolf stated in The Beauty Myth that “thirty-three thousand American women told researchers that they would rather lose ten to fifteen pounds than achieve any other goal. Knowing this it is obvious why a company attempting to sell a beauty product would choose a skinny woman like Taylor Swift to promote their product.
            Taylor Swift is also young which contributes to her beauty according to the beauty myth. Wolf states that “Youth and (until recently) virginity have been “beautiful” in women since they stand for experiential and sexual ignorance.” Youth and innocence are both a part of Taylor Swift’s public image. She even has released a single which is named Innocent. Wolf believes that “Aging in women is “unbeautiful” since women grow more powerful with time, and since the links between generations of women must always be newly broken: Older women fear younger ones, young women fear old, and the beauty myth truncates for all the female lifespan.” The reason that woman become more powerful as they grow older is the same reason anybody becomes more powerful as they age, they accumulate more money. If you need any more of an indication of how hard women try to fight aging next time you are at the super market take a look at how many anti-aging creams there are in the make-up aisle.
            The biggest reason that this advertisement represents the beauty myth is the fact that it is attempting to sell women beauty products. This advertisement is made to make women believe that if they buy these Covergirl products that they will become more beautiful.  Wolf states that “beauty is a currency system like the gold standard. Like any economy it is determined by politics, and in the modern age in the West it is the last best belief system that keeps male dominance intact.” By saying this Wolf is implying that the beauty myth keeps women from overcoming male dominance because they remain in competition with one another in attempts to become more beautiful.
            Beauty products like the ones featured in this advertisement are hugely important to the success and stability of the United States economy. In The Beauty Myth Naomi Wolf gives figures of the amount of money spent on beauty that are quite astounding “…powerful industries – the $33-billion-a-year diet industry, the $20-billion cosmetics industry, the $300-million cosmetic surgery industry, and the $7-billion dollar pornography industry-have arisen from the capital made out of unconscious anxieties, and are in turn able, through their influence on mass culture, to use, stimulate, and reinforce the hallucination in a rising economic spiral.” The beauty industry and in turn the beauty myth are clearly a part of the back bone of the American economy. If the beauty product industry were to be removed from the economy it would completely collapse. The beauty myth is an important part not only of American culture but of the economy as well.
            The Taylor Swift Covergirl advertisement not only represents the beauty myth but is part of something much larger. This single advertisement is a part of the American identity. It is a part of a billion dollar industry based on improving the way women look and making them feel more beautiful. This Covergirl advertisement is the beauty myth.

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