The Ugly Face of Beauty

Is the 'Cover Girl' Dream a Syndrome?

January 30, 2014  |  By Maria Lupu, Romania

The Ugly Face of Beauty

Photo : Wikimedia Commons /

If Cinderella wasn’t a gorgeous slender girl with fair skin, luscious hair and twinkling blue eyes would you still regard her as worthy of finding happiness in the arms of Prince Charming? What if she wasn’t what we consider a classical beauty, but a plain peasant woman? Would little still wish to be in her “slippers”?

Children are used to relate beauty to goodness, kindness and happiness. But what is first ingrained in the girls’ mind as an innocent concept soon becomes a “poison ivy”. From the early age of 10, girls begin to draw the notion of beauty from the world of fairies and assume it as one of the most important canon from their life. And here starts the pursuit of perfection!

The media and the advertisement industry play the ultimate role in the emergence of these issues. What advertisers do is surround us with the image of ideal female beauty. Thus, the cover-girl halo envelop the girls` perception, the glossy magazines selling them more than a mere beauty standard. They deliver a new “pair of glasses” with which they can see new values, new concepts of worth, success and normalcy. Consequently, young girls start to spend hours in front of the mirror seeking for that dream girl who they want to be: tall, thin, size 0 and blemish free skin. And when the reality turns back like a boomerang and they don`t find all this perfection in the mirrored image, disorders begin to emerge. More than dealing with eating disorders and other issues, they deal with “identity disorders”. Their soul becomes anorexic, growing thinner and thinner, just like their bodies. In the chaotic chase for attaining this ideal, young women forget to nourish their identity. Starving and longing to be filled, their soul is crying out for help. But it is useless…Nothing gets fed besides the greedy mouth of superficiality.

Jean Killbourne - the creator of the renowned Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women film series - called this phenomenon “the trivialization” of female beauty. Besides setting unrealistic standards, magazines and advertisements have also set such a fervid rivalry between women in our modern society that in many cases a girl ceases to feel beautiful in the moment she compares with another girl deemed “more beautiful”. Alexandra Coscodar, an 18 year old girl admitted that she thinks the same when it comes to comparison. ”At home I feel beautiful, I am beautiful. But when I am at school, suddenly I lose my confidence and looking at other girls around I feel ugly.” What or who validates us? Can “ranks” be established on good looks? Why does a beauty nullify another beauty?

When we browse all those shiny pages that show spotless images, we seek vainly for a flaw, a wrinkle, a pore, something we can relate to. Only then we realize that that perfection cannot be related with us, because it is not actually real, while we are. Here comes the insight into the fakeness behind the cover. What we see in all those tall, pretty models as “genetic lottery” is actually a ruse, a trick called Photoshop. Cindy Crawford’ saying about this is well known: “I wish I look like Cindy Crawford !”.

Maria Coltea, another 18 year old girl, is surprisingly, aware of the fakeness that underlies the teen magazines. Confidently, she states: ”When you pretend to be another person, when you constantly hide behind the make-up, it`s because you don`t have confidence, you don`t have an identity. To me, being natural is the most beautiful.” Student in the same high school as Maria, Alina Goia makes a keen statement: “In my opinion, these Barbie dolls bear within themselves a great incertitude. I feel like these girls are the most complexed, because it`s not normal to avoid going outdoors without wearing make-up.”

Cover magazines are broken glasses that mirror distorted images about beauty conceptions. Plagued by a poor body image, millions of women think they don`t measure up to the bar that the media have set. Thus they spend a fortune to get the ideal of beauty portrayed by magazines. But the question is how much do they “pay” for their confidence and uniqueness? The truth is this unrealistic beauty is unattainable even for that gorgeous girl that smiles from the Cosmopolitan cover. But you know what is attainable? YOU! If you feel like you`ve been robbed by your identity or self-esteem, than take it back!

Tomorrow morning, you`ll look in the mirror. You`ll spot your flaws again. But this time have the courage to look in your eyes, to see the YOU, the only person who you could ever be and see that smile with its cute dimples that you always overlook, see that flicker that enlightens your eyes, see the unique being you are! On your way to school or job, you`ll compare yourself, you`ll weigh or rank again your appearance with someone else. ”You`ll never look like that!”, your comparing mind will cry. Well, this time do something different: ‘be the appreciator of all things beautiful’, read the advice on ‘You know that feeling you get when you see a lush summer garden, abundantly green and fragrant and riotous with blossoms? Does it bother you that you're not as beautiful as it is? No, of course not; it's a garden. Its beauty has nothing to do with you, takes nothing away from yours…Replenish your eyes, your soul, because a thing of beauty needs no comparison, only an eye to behold it!’

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