Within today’s society, women are constantly reminded of what we perceive as beautiful. We are surrounded by images and advertisements that promote the “perfect” looking women, no matter what age, size or shape. As a society our view on beauty standards have shifted so much due to photo-shop and other photo editing apps, as a result this has led to many women feeling inadequate. Along with these computer-enhancing apps, the number of women getting surgery to physically modify their body to look how it looks when under the influence of these photo-enhancing apps, “In 2007, there were “nearly 11.7 million cosmetic surgical and non-surgical produces performed in the United States which is an increase of 500% in the number of surgeries performed over the last ten years.” Due to this growing obsession with our perception of beauty we have created a billion-dollar industry that holds the power to alter and shape our women.
From being in this forward-thinking society I have witnessed the growth of technology itself and even more the growth of social media. It is my opinion that social media has the biggest influence on the beauty industry, and plays a large role in its success and popularity. Due to app such as twitter and Instagram, it is so much easier for brands to promote their products, and especially with beauty products their target audience is usually teenagers and these are the people who use social media the most; therefore, this hits their target audience perfectly. The large fan base of the beauty bloggers and youtubers allows them to advertise products to their followers and inspire them to follow in their footsteps, which trends and looks. Elena touched on how over time we have begun to see individuals start to follow a beauty trend, these ideas begin and then travel from person to person through the realm of social media; “Social media creates an environment of excitement and immediacy.”
Today’s technology involves photo sharing apps, beauty influencers post sneak peaks of their latest products this instantly makes it known to their millions of viewers what the next trend is going to be, these fans then go out and buy the latest items. Now that online shopping has been made possible, sales have skyrocketed. Online shopping allows small towns and cities where the stores and brands aren’t available to buy to simply go online and purchase. Fifteen years ago this wouldn’t have been possible to do. This has helped people establish their own makeup brands online. “Mega internet cosmetic line, Colourpop, which was founded in 2014 has seen sales over $2.1 Million in 2016: all due to promotions solely from social media.” (Elena Parrish, Why The Makeup Beauty Trend Has Become So Popular article), this is really shows to us just how much the media and internet have influenced the advancements within the beauty industry, truly amazing.
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There are many studies that have been carried out to show us the effect that social media plays on our self-esteem and how we view our own self-image, although a significantly less amount of research has been carried out on the effects that the beauty industry and how the consumer’s image is effected, but the pure fact that $7 million is spent on beauty products a year suggests that it has a large influence on the consumers in some manner. Marsha L. Richins and Peter H. Bloch carried out one of the first studies of he effect of cosmetics on women “You Look ‘Mahvelous’: The Pursuit of Beauty and the Marketing Concept.” The study helps us to understand items that are “used to increase attractiveness and to obtain accompanying social benefits.” and how they are then related to how we judge attractiveness.
These items vary from jewelry, clothes and makeup; simply anything that makes someone feel attractive or better about themselves. From the study they found that people who feel as though they are unattractive “reply heavily on adornments as compensatory tools”, therefore those with low self-esteem use these products. Another study which supports this is Cash&Cash’s (1982) study “Women’s Use of Cosmetics”, which found that women who feel especially self-conscious in public relate to a higher use of cosmetics; women feel as though they blend into the world that they feel as though they don’t fit in by using these adornments. In Elena Parrish’s article “Why The Makeup Beauty Trend Has Become So Popular” she really begins to explain the rise within trend of beauty gurus and people influencing beauty trends by making videos or featuring on tutorials. She states “Most trends don’t just happen; they have a purpose and speak volume about the generation and their habits.” (Elena Parrish, Why The Makeup Beauty Trend Has Become So Popular article).
Elena highlights the fact that makeup is now not just perceived as a feminine product, it is used across both sexes, men and women are choosing to use makeup. She states that “A big part of this can be credited to how accepting and liberal we have become as a nation. Thirty years prior to 2016, we would never have expected or imagined the freedom of expression in art and makeup as we do now.” (Elena Parrish, Why The Makeup Beauty Trend Has Become So Popular article), I completely agree with this statement, I think for some people makeup is a way to express themselves, and people are thinking of newer more creative ideas than ever before, twenty years ago art and expression would be accepting or even thought of to be like it is now within art and makeup.
I believe that this burst in creativity and fresh thinking is what has helped in generating ideas and trends. We have surpassed a lot of expectations we had set as a society, since 2008 there has been the first black president of this country and also the first female nominee. As I commented on above we have a considerably less amount of information on the effect that the advertisement of cosmetics have on the consumers, although this also has an effect on cosmetic industry itself. It is taught to girls from a very young age that they should try out makeup and experiment in order to increase their beauty and attractiveness. This results in makeup being used as a temporary boost of self-esteem. The fact that makeup is a quick and easy way to solve beauty problems is extremely pleasing to women.
Beausoleil carried out a study called “Makeup in Everyday life: An Inquiry into the Practices of Urban American Women of Diverse Backgrounds”, within this study he comments on how women themselves report to have different cosmetic routines depending on what they have planned for that day (Beausoleil, 1992 p. 33). Due to the fact makeup is so fast and easy and cheap compared to other drastic measures that can be taken such as surgery, exercise or diet, makeup is the easiest way that women can feel they can measure up to society and the standards of beauty it has. The fact that now some women don’t think twice about applying makeup, it is a part of their daily routine, Sarah Greenwald touches on this in her article “The Normalization of Makeup: How Society Has Redefined the Natural Women.”
She comments that this is so ironic because something that is technically so unnatural has become a natural phenomenon. Sarah has no issue with the use of makeup, she agrees with the way that makeup is used to express one’s self, but what she fails to agree with is the normalization of makeup. She states “society has normalized makeup as a natural feature of being a woman and continually stigmatizes makeup-free women.” (Sarah Greenwald, The Normalization of Makeup: How Society Has Redefined the Natural Women article), Sarah believes women who don’t wear makeup are now criticized in the all aspects of life, they are pressured to be “normal” and if not there could be consequences. Within the article “The Normalization of Makeup: How Society Has Redefined the Natural Women” it shows that the findings from a study prove that women who wear makeup are more likely to get a job in a job interview as they are seen to be a lot more competent.
To conclude, I feel as though due to makeup and its popularity of it as a society we are becoming more and more obsessed with what we look like and how we are perceived by others. Although I really support women doing whatever they want in order to make themselves feel beautiful and have confidence, I feel it shouldn’t have got to this point where we are so hooked up on this, why is it that we don’t feel beautiful without cosmetics? I also think a big factor of this is how the advertisements portray the women that use these products and this is apparently how you will look if you also use them, which as a result makes people want to purchase them. I believe that this widespread of confidence within our men and women of today has led people to not be ashamed of who they are, who they like and what they like; for example, perhaps in the past people were ashamed to wear a lot of makeup and stand out but now people are bold and proudly sharing their looks on social media.
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