The Eye of the Beholder
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” but what if the beholder’s vision is blurred? The media today dictates what is beautiful, and these standards are so high that they are impossible to reach. Both Camille Paglia and Daniel Akst point this out in their essays about the effects these standards have on the general population. Paglia uses an appeal to the emotion of her upper-class middle-aged women audience who may choose plastic surgery as a method to stay beautiful whereas Akst uses all forms of rhetorical devices to appeal to everyone in defining what beauty truly is.
Camille Paglia, Yale graduate and professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, says in her essay “The Pitfalls of Plastic Surgery” depicts the belief in the beauty of uniformity. Women have a belief that if they don’t look a certain way, then they are not beautiful, so they turn to plastic surgery. In an excerpt from her essay, ...view middle of the document...
..” (Paglia 793) rather a petrified representation of what little youth a potentially great women decided to hold on to. Paglia wants women to look at the beauty in the uniqueness of a woman, not what makes her meet a standard but break it.
Daniel Akst, a columnist of the LA Times, broadens his audience in “What Meets the Eye” to anyone who has seen a model or a media icon in general. The people whose idea of beauty is altered by what is shown on TV, in magazines, or in movies till they just give up trying to compete and “...have driven most Americans to quit the game, insisting that they still care about how they look even as they retire from the paying field to console themselves with a knife and fork” (Akst 290). These celebrities and models looks and bodies invoke insecurities in the average American and cause them to become depressed and give up. What Akst proposes is that our views of beauty not be dictated by what other’s say but what we believe to be truly beautiful and to not be discouraged by what we see. The media uses these images of men and women that have been doctored to the point where the models themselves can’t even live up to it. Through Paglia’s essay, we really see that the underlying thing that defines beauty, based on the media, is sex appeal. Youth and perfect bodies is what is sexy and when people can’t stay young, or get that body, they turn to surgery to do it for them, or just give up. To hold on to an impossible standard of unending youth and a perfect body is ridiculous, and this standard to hasn’t always been, so abolishment of it is possible. The media will only continue to set this bar if we continue to respond.
The question is raised now, how much has our “eye” been changed, what is truly beautiful. The fact that beauty has become almost a source of depression, excuse for making yourself a fake, and for giving up entirely is just sad. People without alteration are unable to be “beautiful” in this world view cast by the entertainment industry. Our concept of beauty is so far beyond skewed that it’s at a point where it’s almost unattainable. Yet people continue to respond to this standard so the media continues to set it. To rectify the problem, we don’t need to change the media, but ourselves, to remember what makes us truly beautiful.