I am learning that the concept of beauty is something that is constantly evolving. We are always finding new things we like and admire about the world around us. Whether it concerns people, nature, clothes, or objects such as art, our tastes simply change. Sometimes it can be hard to decide if we are growing as people, and that is why our tastes are changing, our if we are being coached into believing that certain things are considered to be beautiful while others are ugly.
As I flipped through magazines, trying to find inspiration to begin my collage, I realized just how many advertisements there are for products that concern the idea of beauty. Skin creams, makeup, moisturizers, eyebrow tweezers, and many more items are all sold in hopes of women buying them to achieve the ideal societal standard of beauty. The same can be said for men. Though the volume of advertisements was not as overwhelming, men’s magazines advertised expensive gym equipment and products such as Testo-O-Boost and other workout supplements. I found that men’s magazines were mostly adopting an air of status. Men should buy fancy cars, expensive suits, and the latest sunglasses to appear attractive. The actual men in the advertisements were not always well groomed or good looking. Sometimes they did not look horrifically photoshopped, nor like they lived in the gym. Men are simply encouraged to buy things in order to get somebody beautiful. Women, on the other hand, are pushed to be beautiful. And the idea of beautiful is a standard that society sets based on all of the products it tries to sell. Dietary supplements to keep women thin, moisturizers and creams to keep women soft, tweezers to keep women hairless, and a myriad of other standards. The regimen set for societal beauty is exhausting.
The concept of a man adopting status in order to obtain a beautiful woman, who is now also a status symbol, reflects the ideas we have read in Brave New World. The population is bred to be attracted to those in their own class. Alphas like Alphas, while Betas like other Betas. This is not entirely true in reality but its close. An Alpha, or a millionaire, for example, may not be attracted to somebody who did not finish high school and is now working minimum wage, an Epsilon. However, the Epsilon in this scenario may still find the Alpha very attractive. We are not bred in test tubes and have not been conditioned to only attract to those of equal socioeconomic level. However, this division in status does make it increasingly more difficult for people of different socioeconomic levels to mingle and even get to know one another, making the divide in Brave New World seem very real. It is unlikely that an “Gamma” in reality would be at the same nightclub frequented by an “Alpha”. There are not many places their paths would cross. The sheer price of status symbols and beauty care products ensures that those of lower socioeconomic levels will probably never be good enough or look good enough to achieve the standards of beauty set by society, thus attracting anybody of a higher socioeconomic level. Essentially, though we were not bred in test tubes and can be attracted to whomever we wish, society has placed such harsh stipulations on beauty that we are being controlled to a degree.
I attempted not to be controlled by preconceived notions of beauty when I put together my collage. Though I do find some societally typical ideas of beauty attractive, I do find beauty in the abstract and what society would probably consider odd. My own concept of beauty is relatively simple. If I look at something and it makes me happy, inspires me, or makes me feel at ease, it is probably beautiful. For example, if one person looks at another and is calmed by their presence they may say that they are plain, but I find that beautiful about them. This has a lot to do with who the person somebody might be. Advertisements and products put too much emphasis on what people have and the lengths they will go to look differently, without ever asking who they are. People can be beautiful on the inside, and nobody would ever know these days because nobody bothers to ask. Take Lenina, for example, in Brave New World. She is very beautiful, and everybody wants to be with her. She believes she is very beautiful as well, but she does not have any sense of herself. Nobody wants to get to know her either. The entire population’s attraction is based on appearance. The only person really interested in Lenina’s thoughts is Bernard and the community thinks something must have gone wrong during his development because of it. The concept of getting to know another person is foreign to them . There is something so beautiful about a person with a personality. People who read, write, create, or just know how to have a conversation are some of the most beautiful people I know. So while I do find some of the standard concepts of beauty very appealing, to me, what is very beautiful is not what a person looks like, but who they are.
This assignment was very eye-opening. I have rarely been forced to examine how I look at society’s standards of beauty or how those standards have begun to take over. Too many people place emphasis on looks and things. Status and appearance are the focus of modern-day beauty. People would feel more satisfied with themselves, as well as one another, if they got to know each other despite appearances. True beauty can only be found when somebody looks beyond a person’s appearance.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper and Brothers, Publishers, 1932. Print.