Skin Deep

Beauty. What is it it? Is it really only “skin deep“? Is it actually “in the eye of the beholder“? I’ve been wondering, what really drives the multi-billion dollar beauty industry?

If we restrict our brief discussion only to women (I’ll get to you Metrosexuals out there later), what makes them spend these huge amounts of money on makeup, hair stylists, cosmetic surgey, waxing, tanning, facials, slimming, designer clothing etc.

There are probably only three possible driving forces out there;

  • To attract men.
  • To impress other women.
  • To feel “better” about themselves.

Now what do all three of these have in common? One thing, the overwelming influence of the media. The media, and here I mean print, film, advertisements and the Internet, are shaping what women (and girls as young as 7) think men want, other women expect and what they should be thinking about in terms of norms of beauty.

The standards that they are bombarded with many, many times a day are unrealistic, driven by corporate greed, and are sometimes, just plain hazardous to their health.

Watch this very short video by Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty and see how unrealistic these images are that pout down at us from the billboards.

Some clues about our behaviour and the reason we do these things was provided by Desmond Morris in his 1967 book, The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal (ISBN 0385334303). It is as relevant today, as it was then. Some interesting snippets from the book include;

  • Homo sapiens not only has the biggest brain of all primates but also the largest penis, and is “the sexiest primate alive”
  • Our fleshy ear-lobes, unique to humans, are erogenous zones that have been known to provoke orgasm in both males and females.,
  • The more rounded shape of human breasts means they are primarily a sexual signalling device rather than simply a milk machine.

But as I said earlier, this discussion was about women. Us MEN are much more relaxed about our appearance.

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