A Fake Beauty
There is an old saying that says beauty is pain. The French also say "Il faut souffrir pour etre belle", which means no pain, no gain or you must suffer to be beautiful. However, many girls do not care about those old sayings. Many girls still do a lot of things to be more beautiful, even some extreme things. No matter how hurts what they do to themselves, they still do it. The things that they do to be more beautiful are called beautification activities. Beautification activities have been done by many girls for centuries. Dworkin in Woman Hating (1974:115) says that many girls have suffered for beauty, for example, by "plucking the eyebrows, shaving under the arms, wearing a girdle, learning to walk in high-heeled shoes, having one's nose fixed, and straightening or curling one's hair." Many girls go through extreme suffering from beautification activities to get a perfect impression from other people. In fact, they have sacrificed and manipulated themselves through extreme suffering to create a fake beauty. In this essay, I will explain several reasons that make many girls do a lot of things to be more beautiful. I will narrow my explanation into four reasons. I will focus my explanation on girls. I use girls as the subject because I think nowadays girls have more roles in beautification activities, compared with women.
The definition of beauty always shifts and changes over time. We can see it from the beautification activities through the ages. The change of beauty and its definition makes the value of beauty relative and cannot be measured with standard size. Nevertheless, many people still give their thoughts and judgments about beauty to be considered as the standard values of beauty. It makes many girls get influenced. Many girls try very hard to be like what many people think. They try to attract people around them through their appearances. I think a model in a fashion magazine that have a tall and slim (even skinny) body, white skin, and long hair usually become the reference of a beautiful girl. A study (1995) found that 70 percent of girls would feel really bad just by looking at models in fashion magazines for about three minutes. I think it happens because they only focus on what they see, not on the fact. The ideas about how a beautiful girl looks soon become the socially constructed ideas of beauty. Many people seem to build some right standard values about beauty. They together create some ideas about beauty, but the ideas indirectly become misunderstood. The socially constructed ideas of beauty actually are not the real and correct measures of beauty. Many girls think those ideas are the real and correct measures because those ideas are indirectly approved and used by many people. It seems that those ideas become the universal standard of beauty. In fact, it is totally wrong and misunderstood.
The socially constructed ideas of beauty are also explained by Naomi Wolf in her book The Beauty Myth. She explains "how images of beauty are used against [girls]." Wolf (2008:16-17) also states about the idea of "Iron Maiden" which describe a modern illusion in which a girl trapped by a standard of beauty that she cannot adjust to it. From her explanation, I get an overview that the socially constructed ideas of beauty have become a boomerang for many girls. They are forced to be someone whom they do not suit to. I also think that the ideas of beauty which spread among many people are more directed at the physical beauty than the inner beauty and intelligence. It makes many girls tend to forget about their inner beauty and intelligence. Many girls defeat each other to be more beautiful physically, but they forget to build their inner beauty and intelligence. Consequently, I think it is no wonder if there is a stereotype of blonde girls. Takeda, Helms, Klintworth, and Sompayrac (2005:4) argue that blondes are more attractive and popular than redheads because of their appearance, but more likely to be stereotyped as incompetent than redheads. Blonde girls look beautiful, but seem to have nothing in their head.
The other thing that makes girls do a lot of things to be more beautiful is their human nature. It is human nature that people never satisfied. Once people get interested in something, they will do or chase it over and over again. This also happens to girls in order to change themselves to be more beautiful. At first, they seem to be more beautiful after they do a beautification activity. However, they become no longer beautiful when they do some beautification activities over and over again.
Some example of cases that caused by girls' dissatisfaction with their appearance are plastic surgery addiction and eating disorders. Paris Hilton, for example, said that she would not do any plastic surgeries. In contrast, according to Plastic Surgery Before and After Blog (2010), she has done several plastic surgeries, such as an eyelid (Blepharoplasty) and lip enhancement surgery (Lip Augmentation). Furthermore, she is still planning to do other surgeries. Another girl, Adele Sale (18 years old), died because of her unreasonable fears of her weight and appearance. Levy in Mail Online (2009) said that the girl committed suicide after having an eating disorder and depression.
I think many girls, like Paris Hilton and Adele Sale, are never satisfied with what they have because they let themselves enslaved by the socially constructed ideas of beauty. They are not grateful for what they already have. They do not think that it is better to stay just the way they are rather than to transform into "a beautiful monster" with a fake beauty. They also do not prepare themselves to face the worst things. Therefore, I think if someone is ready to be beautiful, she must also be ready to be ugly.
A girl wants to be more beautiful also because of the environments around her. She may be affected in any environment, but in my opinion there are only three environments that give the biggest influence to her. The environments are peers, workplaces, and also families. As we know, peers have a big influence in developing someone's life, whether it is going to be good or not. If a girl has some peers that glorify beauty, it can be ensured that she will feel ashamed if she can be like her peers. Moreover, she will get some pressures to do everything to be as beautiful as her peers or even more than her peers. The pressures often turn into bullying. It can happen in many public places and even schools.
The influence can also come from workplaces. It is not too different with the influence from peers because most of our peers also come from our workplaces. A girl whose work requires her to be "always perfect" must do a lot of things to maintain her appearance. This usually happens to a girl who works in entertainment and fashion industry, like Paris Hilton whom I have mentioned above. If she cannot maintain her appearance or make herself outstanding, she will be forgotten in her industry and lost her job.
Besides peers and workplaces, a family of course has a role to influence girls. Supports from family have a big power in the process of creating girls' life. If a family does not share their affection to their girls as equal as it is supposed to be just because one of them is not beautiful, it is totally wrong. In addition, sometimes a joke in a family about their girls' appearances also can influence mindsets of some girls. This happens to me. My sister is younger than me, but she is fatter than me. Sometimes my parents say that I am not their daughter because I am too skinny. I have tried very hard to be fatter than my sister because of my parents' words. However, now I have realized that I have to be grateful of my body whatever it looks like.
It cannot be denied that advertisements have a big role in influencing many girls to do a lot of things to be more beautiful. We can see advertisements on television, magazines, newspapers, billboards, and so on. Those advertisements offer different things in different ways. They intensively seduce and attack many girls to believe in what are sold. Beauty advertisements usually consist of advertisements of body and skin care products. The body products are body shapers, slimming, and body improvement products. The skin care products are skin whitening creams and lotions, serums, soaps, scrubs, cleansers and toners, foods, and supplements products.
Body shaper products consist of two types. Those products are a suit like Kozuii Slimming Suit and a tool like Slimming Belt JC 118. Both are used to make our body shapes ideal. Some drugs and foods can also make our body slim. Slimming Tea Mustika Ratu, WRP, and Thermolite Plus are several examples of slimming products. Those products are safe for consumption because they have fulfilled some provisions of BPOM. Meanwhile, according to Quo Vadis Indonesia (2011), ABC Acai Berry, Fatloss Slimming Beauty, and Fruta Planta are some of dangerous slimming products that "contain some substances that have been banned for use or should be used under medical supervision." The use of those products, even the herbal products, can endanger our bodies. The other body product is body improvement products. HiLo Milk and Grow Up Super USA are the examples. In their advertisements, HiLo Milk and Grow Up Super USA say that their products can help people increase their height in a short time without any side effects. However, we must still be careful.
The types of skin care products are more diverse than the body products. Nevertheless, I think all skin care products have same purposes: to make our skin whiter and brighter and to reduce some signs of premature aging, so that we will look younger and more beautiful than before. Most of the skin care products are skin whitening creams and lotions, serums, soaps, scrubs, and also cleansers and toners. We can find them in various brands with different range of price. Citra, Vaseline, Nivea, Pond's, Clean N Clear, Biore, Tje Fuk, Garnier, and Lux are some examples of brands of skin care products that we may often see in advertisements. Those brands usually consist of some series of beauty products that I have mentioned. Those products are also varied with different ingredients like green tea, juicy tuber, lemon, or yogurt to make consumers interested to buy them. The other skin care products are foods and supplements, like Buavita guava and Natur-E. Those products also often appear in advertisements and can be easily found in stores.
I think not all information in advertisements is true, but everything can be possible in advertisements. Those advertisements may often seem convincing and make sense. It is because the beauty products companies and advertisers use some advertising strategies to market the products so that they get much profit. As we can see in the newest Buavita guava's advertisement, the model says that she gets her beautiful skin by drinking Buavita guava regularly. Do you really trust it? I think no one even know whether she really drinks Buavita guava regularly to get her beautiful skin or not. What we may know for sure is she was paid to be the model of the advertisement and she had to say what was written in the script. However, many costumers especially girls are easily interested and believe in what is written on the products and what they see in advertisements. They do not even check whether the products are really useful or not. Many girls become the victims of advertisements. They sacrifice themselves to be the slave of beauty products even though there is no real guarantee that everything that is stated in advertisements of those products is true.
It is certainly true that everything that people do has its own causes and effects, including what many girls do to be more beautiful. The effects of beautification activities depend on the beautification activities themselves. For example, if we do too many plastic surgeries, some parts of our body may lose their real shape. Meanwhile, for the causes, I conclude that there are four main reasons that cause many girls do a lot of things to be more beautiful. Socially constructed ideas of beauty are the first and most influential reason. They come from people's judgments. They have a big power to control how a girl should maintain herself and her appearance. The second reason is many girls never satisfied. It is a human nature. Many girls will do a lot of things to be more beautiful until there is something that makes them stop. The third reason is there are some influences from the environments around girls, especially from peers, workplaces, and families. The environments often push many girls to do a lot of things to be more beautiful. The last reason that also important is there are a lot of beauty advertisements that seduce many girls. Beauty products companies and advertisers use some proven advertising strategies to market products, so that many girls will be interested to buy the products. Still, all the reasons that make many girls do a lot of things to be more beautiful leads many girls to create a fake beauty. They sometimes do not realize that their real beauty will turn into a fake beauty if they give too much manipulation on it. Thus, which beauty do you choose: the real one, or the fake one?