Let’s get real here and face the facts about beauty. Sex appeal is all about distortion — in art, magazines and even, your mirror.
What people find sexy, or at least how some women want to look, is a false image of this impossibly perfect concept of a woman that no one can achieve.
In France, a member of French Parliament, named Valerie Boyer, introduced a bill that would require photographers and publications to label all altered photos as retouched. In the New York Times, Steven Erlanger reports on the divorced, mother of three’s motivation.
Boyer hopes to reduce the dangers of our “standardized and brainwashed world,” where young women develop body image issues and diseases like anorexia because they are not as skinny and pretty as retouched advertisements and photos of models.
However, desire by definition, means to long and hope for something. And, yearning to shed ten pounds, or gain a few ounces in your lips or breasts is part of what women are taught is sexy. To change and hide how you look is to achieve sex appeal.
Think about it, why would Rihanna, the pop star who was beaten by once-golden-boy Chris Brown, release an album cover that promotes S&M and violence toward women after getting pummeled? She doesn’t want people to think of her as less desirable because she was assaulted.
Instead of taking a stand against domestic violence that could help other women seek help who are being abused, she projects an image of herself, naked, entwined in barbed wire with an eye patch that, in essence, says, “Beauty and sex are pain — and I like it.”
For Rihanna, being sexually appealing is more important than being a person of integrity, substance and courage. In fact, now that she has released her aptly-named full-length album titled, Rated R, a sex video of her was “leaked” as well. So, if you don’t think the album artwork is arousing, you can actually watch her have sex with Brown, her abuser.
Ok, so yeah, she’s a celebrity, but she has nothing to do with the average woman in the real world, right? Wrong. The constant media flood of young women like Rihanna and edited photos of models contribute to women’s pressure to look young, thin, pretty and sexy. Think about it, there are diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS killing millions of people, but billions of dollars are spent on the plastic surgery industry.
Some plastic surgeons even perform procedures that could make it hard to detect breast cancer. How backwards is that? It doesn’t matter that it could kill them, what matters is that their breasts are bigger and more “natural looking.” Sorry, but I don’t consider sucking a patient’s fat out, then injecting back into her breasts as “revolutionary,” especially since it can hinder the diagnosis of a fatal disease.
According to an article by Catharine Saint Louis, this type of “natural breast implant” is becoming wildly popular even though it’s not completely safe or practical. Women want to look like a the over-edited cover girl and the porn star so they get these unnecessary and dangerous surgeries despite the health risks.
This distorted view of what is sexy epitomizes the inherit sexism and objectification women face in media images, video and celebrity culture. Instead of building character, interests and self-confidence, women are being tricked by the retouched layers of Photoshop, bad choices by celebrities and the layers of fat that are injected by plastic surgeons to become less deep and interesting.
Yet, at the heart of the matter, we’re the ones who look in the mirror every morning with the desire to change what they see. How do we fix that? I’d start by supporting Boyer’s bill. It also wouldn’t hurt to have some real role models out there for young women with some smart and sexy brain power.
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