With increasing beauty pageants and our screens full of attractive actors, it is not new knowledge that how you look could have a great impact on what people perceive of you as a person. Uta Poiger of the History Department at Northeastern University has performed an interesting research on the changing beauty standards across the world and its relation to the cosmetic industry.
Analysing trade journals and women’s magazines, Poiger is of the opinion that our individual sense of beauty and beautification is constantly determined by the international network of commerce, images in circulation and ideas that are popular. No matter how deviant we may conceptualise our position with respect to capitalism, the fact is that consumer culture continues to define us. Even the punk subculture of the 1970’s and 1980’s is understood with respect to and comparative to the conventional beauty norms.
Poiger’s research doesn’t restrict itself to the marketing and manufacturing of cosmetic beauty products for women but the construction of masculinity as well. This study is important in understanding the unhealthy and extremely dangerous trend observed today of objectifying the male body along with the female body, in some problematic cases terming this as feminism.
Beauty has emerged as business today. The fashion industry survives on making human bodies into nothing more than objects to display their products on. Though there is a shift observable in the recent times of relaxing the rigid norms of what is considered to be attractive and what is not, it is still has to go a long way to embrace difference as beautiful.
N Malavika Mohan