Feminine Aesthetics: “Real beauty”

I’ve mentioned Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty twice in the last month or so, and was reminded of it again this morning while reading Alissa Quart’s Branded: The buying and selling of teenagers. I’m in to a chapter in Quart’s poignant book that’s talking about how commonplace plastic surgery — nose jobs, tummy tucks, breast augmentation — is among teenagers.

I am a man and therefore wired to admire the feminine physique. I am also an artist with a very keen interest in the idea of beauty. The human form, male or female, is arguably the most noble aspect of visual Creation — all of this to say I think about human aesthetics regularly.

The Dove Campaign has brought this to the forefront of my mind recently, although I have not been able to put my vague thoughts into words yet. So this morning I’ll share a few excerpts from Quart’s book:

    * Carolyn is like many other middle-class teenagers today. But she is not like middle-class teenagers of a decade ago. Sure, she wants designer threads and, eventually, law school. What sets her apart from her teen predecessors is her most expensive dream: larger breasts. She has been obsessed with getting them since she was sixteen. (pg 113)

    * Among teens eighteen and under in 1994, only 392 had breast augmentations and 511 liposuction; in 2001 there were 2,596 augmentations and 2,755 liposuctions among that age group, a 562 percent increase. (pg 114)

    * Julie, now a sweet-voiced, well-grounded business student of twenty-one, recalls the thinking that finally led her to get a $6,800 nose job. Growing up in North Hollywood, she recalls, she noticed girls in magazines with their perfect bodies and perfect facial features, and she became acutely aware of her flaws . . .

    For Generation Y, liposuction is not just for Bel Air television producers’ daughters but also for eighteen-year-old shop girls in Yonkers. First the province of the syphilitic and deformed, then of theater and movie stars, then of the rich, plastic surgery has become naturalized for the upper- and lower-middle classes. (pg 117)

    * The teen breast augmentation fetish has also been egged on by other advertisements in magazines such as Teen Vogue and Seventeen. The two mags have run ads for Bloussant, an herbal breast enhancement tablet. Bloussant is, like all herbal supplements, unregulated by the FDA and costs $229 for an eight-week supply. The results are dubious at best, but these magazines — which have the trust of preteens and young teenagers — have carried advertisements for Bloussant, mixed with the usual stories about boyfriends and makeup tips. (pg 120)


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

One Response to Feminine Aesthetics: “Real beauty”

  1. Pingback: Beautiful is natural, healthy, make up? « The Aesthetic Elevator

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