Reflections & Ruminations

Internalizing My Vogue Subscription (Part 3): Plastic Parts

Beauty Given, Beauty Taken | © 2004 Jacqueline Stuart | Graphite and color pencil on paper | 30" X 15"

As I peruse my vogue magazine and size myself up with the models, something insidious begins to occur. By repeatedly exposing myself to the content, my awareness of needing to uphold the cultural standards of beauty become embedded, automatic, and internalized. Engeln-Maddox (2006) contends that:

The most common instrument for measuring internalization focuses not only on thinness, but also on a general longing to emulate the appearance of women in magazines, movies and television programs, whether they be a pop star, an athlete, or an actress. Thus, the extreme thinness of the current beauty ideal is a serious concern, but thinness is not the sole attribute of relevance when evaluating the impact of these idealized images (p. 258).

Exactly. Not everyone is concerned about their weight, despite thinness being the most persistent of all internalized ideals. Those of us who internalize the images of ideal beauty may desire to alter other physical attributes. Some of us develop insecurities about our breasts and adhere to the sociocultural message of going up a cup size—of having silicone implants the size melons. Others of us want Restylane-injected lips, quickly losing confidence as we are inundated by sound bytes of Angelina Jolie. We are unattractive, unless we eradicate our imperfections! Whatever our physical flaws consist of, the media will forever remind us of our inadequacies. Their goal is to pump, inject, apply, rub-on, ingest, cut-open and transform us into the inorganic, fabricated female we thought we were immune to.

Dreams and Shadowlands

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