As mentioned before, Marilyn Monroe and other Hollywood actresses began to set the standard for many modern females. Marilyn was known as the quintessential beauty for many Americans. Other actresses such as Sophia Loren and political activist Angela Davis set the beauty standard for women from Latin and African-American backgrounds.
From these seeds, the modern age of female self image was sown. Subsequent generations of women looked to actresses, singers and political figures to help them define what it meant to be a woman. For some, natural beauty was the only way to go, for others, the bustier and more made-up a person was, the more feminine her image.
We have traveled a long way from the glamour of old Hollywood and the grittiness of the Civil Rights Era. The cosmetics industry is busier than ever with every product on the market available to make women look and feel beautiful. Most cosmetics companies even use actresses and singers to help sell products on television, radio and magazines. It is assumed that today’s woman wants to look just like the supermodel, actress or entertainer she admires, and often, that assumption is well founded.
Though it seems easier than ever to become one of these people with shows like American Idol, Make me a Supermodel and ANTM out there, it is still reasonable for the average woman to assume she may not be “discovered” in this lifetime. Reality TV has brought fame and notoriety to hundreds of average women who might never have been noticed had they not volunteered to battle their personal demons (personal body image included) in front of an audience of millions. Often, these Reality TV superstars become spokeswomen for what it means to be a “real” woman, that is, a woman who hasn’t had the advantage of airbrushing and plastic surgery to create an image of perfection.
Conversely, many women place undue pressure on themselves to look as they percieve their idols to be. Every morning, millions of women look in the mirror with dissatisfaction. They often do not know the reality behind the glitz and glam of Hollywood. Among eating disorder rumors and diets that consist of chain-smoking, hard-drug useage and fad diets, many famous women have wilted and become seriously ill. It’s only recently that companies in the beauty industry have begun to promote inner beauty and natural grace over in imagined standard of perfection. It may take decades to reverse the emotional bondage around female image created by society and perpetuated by the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries. However, it may not…perhaps all it takes is one generation of strong young women who are happy to love themselves from the inside out.