The Media’s Portrayal of Beautiful Women
When I think of a beautifully tan woman, I think of celebrities who have smooth skin, are tall, and skinny. But why should this be the way we portray beautiful women? Everyone has differences that make us all beautiful.
The skin tone of celebrities is misrepresented in almost all of the media portrayals of the celebrities. How is this a good way to advertise beauty when it could lead to women trying to tan when it is completely unhealthy. It is unfair to boast about having a tan skin tone because being exposed to high amounts of UV can cause melanoma.
To combat the media, I tell other women to be themselves and to not let the media’s portrayal of tan women influence how they feel about their body and figure. It is so important to allow yourself to be unbothered by judgments and live your life the way you want to.
I think Instagram and the culture of influencers promotes negative ideas about tanning and creates unrealistic beauty standards for young women. Influencers are often models who are paid to promote products via Instagram. They create unrealistic beauty standards because they are typically sun kissed tan, skinny, and wearing ultra trendy clothing.
This is unrealistic because they are paid to post, photoshopped, given free merchandise, etc. The posts are not a reality, but can make girls feel insufficient. Another counter-argument is that Instagram and other social media platforms are often a highlight reel. You usually see a person’s absolute best shot that was shot with just the right lighting, edited with just the right filter, etc. It is unrealistic, often photoshopped, and just a way to collect meaningless “likes.”
- “Bronzed” skin that appears to be glowing
- Replicates what some celebrities look like at special events
- Appearance that “fits in” with social norms and how people perceive others as beautiful
- Melanoma- a tumor of melanin-forming, especially a malignant tumor associated with skin cancer
- If not caught early, this cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal
Things have obviously changed and evolved, but usually when we think of the
term “beautiful women”, we think of tan, smooth skinned, skinny women. That’s
because it’s what the media shows us. Countless magazine covers and tv shows
show what seem to be “flawless” women, without a single freckle, mole, or blemish
on their skin. The interesting thing about tanning though, is that in order to get
a tan your skin has to change, and most people do naturally get freckles and
moles. We have this “tainted” view that being “beautiful” means being a clean
canvas with no marks to distinguish us from everyone else. However, those marks
are what make us unique and beautiful.
How is the media misguiding YOU?
The media is constantly shaping the way that young women think about and judge themselves. But how much of the media can you actually believe? Many aspects of the images that young women see in the media are tailored for a specific reason: to manipulate you.
Think about the last time you went to the mall and walked past or into the Victoria’s Secret store. What did you think about when you saw the massive image of a ‘perfect’ woman? She was likely tanned, tall, thin, and busty. This image was not just a quick photograph of a beautiful woman in lingerie. This image was designed and photo-shopped to make you want to be her. So you should go get an indoor tanning membership and start dieting right? WRONG.
The image of the woman in Victoria’s Secret did not give you all of the information you need to make a decision about how you feel about it. How did she achieve that tan? What are the dangers of that habit? How much image enhancing went into making her look the way she does?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself. Be confident in your own skin instead of looking to fake images for inspiration and guidance. The dangers of this are not only cancer, but also self-hate.
Perfected vs. Reality
In the first photo we see that a famous model for Victoria’s Secret looks phenomenal on the runway of their popular annual fashion show. The image displays a fit body and tan, promoting this appearance to young women. What is missing from this photo is how she became that tan and how hard she had to work to achieve her body for her 30 second walk down the runway.
In the second photo we see Candice in her day-to-day reality life. We see she is much less tanned and natural appearing. She is not posing for a media campaign. We can see her appearance is much more relatable to the natural woman, something not shown in media campaign or fashion shows.
It is important to remember how much work goes into one photo of someone in the media. When they walk away from that job and go back to regular life, they are much more like us than we think. We should not strive to be something their bosses are making them become.
With and Without the Tan
Many young women look to social media for fitness inspiration. With this rising trend, the aspect of having a tan may also be on the rise.
For these bodybuilders who compete in competitions, they are always seen with an extremely deep tan that makes their muscles more apparent and lean. This can send mixed messages to young women as you do not need to be tan to have the same muscle definition but it appears to be different.
In this image it is assumed that the bodybuilder uses a deep spray tan that is not as harmful as tanning in the sun or in the sun beds. However, it still leads young women to view their beauty differently.
To counter the image, I would tell women that the tan is obviously not natural and is not going to last. If it were to be a real tan, their skin would be highly damaged and make them appear unnatural. With the tanning I would tell young women of the consequences and that the extent to which some people tan is unrealistic and should not be copied.
A source of media that has an unfair portrayal of tan women would be women who are modeling for summer shoots or even celebrities just being photographed for the media. These women are sending out a message that they are tan at all times of the year and they look pretty and are happy about it. What this type of image doesn’t show is that they may be enhanced through programs like photo shop or get professional grade spray tans to make this image possible. Women looking at pictures like this want to be similar and may turn to tanning beds or the sun to receive this look. What they don’t know is that this look may be very hard to achieve through tanning and they will be over tanning and making themselves at risk for melanoma.