“Philosophers ponder it and pornographers proffer it. Asked why people desire physical beauty, Aristotle said, “No one that is not blind could ask that question.” Beauty ensnares hearts, captures minds, and stirs up emotional wildfires. From Plato to pinups, images of human beauty have catered to a limitless desire to see and imagine an ideal human form” ~Nancy Etcoff

Young, beautiful, and PERFECT! This is the image of the ideal Playboy Bunny and/or America’s flawless Top Models. How does the Beauty Economy affect the self-concept of America’s sweethearts?

According to CBSnews.com, “Mississippi State University cheerleader Taylor Corley was apparently a bunny before she tried out to be a Mississippi State Bulldog…a Playboy bunny that is. Corley reportedly posed nude for the men’s magazine last November – under the name Taylor Stone. “

In addition, ABC’s Good Morning America interviewed high school cheerleading coach Carlie Beck, who reported that she was mysteriously fired from her job shortly after her decision to pose for Playboy.

The images of young, beautiful women are seen on billboards, on magazine covers, and are subconsciously stamped in our mental data banks as an intangible asset. Etcoff suggests that we are ALWAYS in search of “beauty” and therefore sometimes we make emotional decisions in pursuit of this hot commodity. Many researchers attribute feminine self-concept and worth to the enormous system of beauty that ultimately challenges a woman’s mental, emotional, and psychological stability.

3 Reasons why many Women choose to Pose Nude:

  1. Poor self-concept
  2. Unresolved emotional or psychological issues
  3. Negative media saturation

The 54 billion dollar beauty industry capitalizes on the insecure needs of millions of women. However, the system of beauty thrives because women allow it to.  Year after year, billions of dollars are spent on beauty products in order to mask a greater need of inward, emotional, and psychological reformation.

In 1987, authors Dean and Juliet MacCannell released “The Beauty System” which analyzes the all-encompassing existence of the beauty philosophy in our American culture. The ideological fabric of the beauty economy is deeply embedded in the complexities of cultural rituals and habits. Beginning with beauty salons, day spas, and beauty depots to mass media, plastic surgeons, and cosmetic manufactures, the economy of beauty defines itself as a global empire that serves the people; or the woman. These various components are also employed to institute very specific feminine stereotypes, such as, the Playboy Bunny.

Americans, like most of the world, are ensnared by the economical structure of beauty. The MacCannels argue the idea that the captivity begins when a young girl refuses to accept herself as she is when challenged with the beauty system. “She can accept herself as she is, or she can enter the beauty system, motivated by a belief in her own deficiencies as the taken-for-granted baseline condition justifying the numerous and often bizarre operations deployed against her body.”

It is suggested that the structure of feminine beauty is grounded in a set ideology that allows women to use this tool to deceive, manipulate and gain wealth in socioeconomic status.  A supporting concept to this idea is that there is a well-structured media/cultural system that sustains this behavior.  The system is a collective group of components that make up detailed practices allowing women to enhance, edify and cater to beauty needs.

The over saturation of repetitive images viewed in the media contribute to the feminine need to attain beauty perfection that is acceptable to our male counterparts. Melanie Klein uses Gerbner’s concept of “cultivation to explain how a media saturated environment impacts our perceptions, morals and values. Cultivation refers to the endless stream of repetitive images manufactured by the media. Millions of images that we view over our lifetime carry the exact same body idea.”

Every woman and young girl has the responsibility to say, “Enough is enough!” By identifying the problem, acknowledging the affects and embracing the solution, the economy of beauty has no power at all. When programs such as Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty partner with communities and industries in order to make a difference, women are freed from the bondage of limiting beauty stereotypes enforced by a manipulating beauty economy and media. With commitments like these, we can foster a generation with no regrets; especially no regrets for lack of beauty.

Learn more about Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty; and if you or someone you know are struggling with poor self-concept or unresolved emotional needs, please contact a self-esteem coach!

For More Information or Articles on Self-Esteem visit our blog.

NOTE: You can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors contact information below intact.

Orlando Self Esteem and Body Image Counselor – Jada Jackson, MS, LMHC, NCC