Beauty is a contested term. It is idealised by the media (that is to say, everything from broadcast and internet media to communications and advertising), not to mention sustained by the fashion, cosmetic, celebrity and beauty culture, and neglected by key social institutions that have become disempowered to make a lasting positive impact. Over time, it is slowly but strongly becoming apparent that what used to be seen as harmless and innocent marketing, audience-targeting, and supposedly “life-enhancing” strategies, have since been exposed as destructive, powerful and manipulative. The ideal of beauty has been projected into the hearts, lives and minds of people, particularly females, from an increasingly young and as always impressionable age, to result in an idealised version of beauty that is disturbingly distorted and far from the truth.
The beauty ideal is a normative assumption and assertion that beautiful is something to obtain, rather than something inherent in everyone; something to criticise, rather than something to embrace; something to be envious of, rather than something to celebrate. Beauty is now asserted as a homogeneous ideal, such that unique and wide-ranging visions and realities of beauty are made to appear abnormal and deviant, given little coverage in the media, and hardly encouraged anywhere else.