The Beauty Standard in Hollywood is Unrealistic for Both Men and Women


The definition of beauty in the Oxford dictionary is a “combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight”. So how has the media’s portrayal of beauty shaped the way we see ourselves and others?

After hours of research, looking at ads, watching YouTube videos, reviewing paparazzi photos, and gathering responses from people I know, I believe the media plays a strong role in your (a person’s) view of beauty and this view impacts how they see themselves and others.

Marilyn Monroe, the cultural icon, was one of the most notable women in Hollywood who used her femininity and sexuality to form a beauty standard according to Harlee Toothman of The Odyssey Online. She not only had good looks but a good persona, which the press was quick to latch onto early on in her career. The beauty standard in the fifties, as seen in pictures of men and women in Hollywood, poses women as having a slim waist with bigger thighs, blonde hair, and blue or green eyes, while the men were seen as being tall, slightly muscular, and short dark hair slicked back, all of which were slightly influenced by the Second World War.

When you think of Zendaya, you think of a young, beautiful, thin woman whereas if you were to think of Steve Buscemi you would most likely think of an old, pale, sickly-looking unattractive man. “While both sides are bad, it’s worse for women who are constantly sexualized and any woman who doesn’t meet certain criteria is unlikely to make it in the acting world. Men can get away with not meeting the beauty standards, they are typically given comic relief characters and not main roles” according to Nathanial Spitzer.

Zendaya’s perceived beauty is the reason so many popular magazines and fashion blogs feature her image. She attracts readers and viewers to those sites  But Rachel, an 8th-grade student,  feels that  “in Hollywood, the beauty standards are awful. It makes my blood boil because not only is it just there, but Hollywood is now influencing other places and other people to do I. Women are practically starving themselves and if men aren’t strong then they’re not manly enough and if women have acne they’re just not pretty.”

This fixation on created beauty is evident in the video “Celebrities That Are Unrecognizable Without Makeup.”  In reality, these are just celebrities that everyone can recognize, but who have been harassed so much by the media for being themselves to the point they cover themselves up whenever they are out.  Jordyn, a 10 grader,  said “It’s not fair that they (society) expect the women to be skinny, the ‘perfect’ body. They expect the Women to have full Lips and basically look like Barbie. Then, they expect the men to have a flat stomach and abs, big arm muscles. They(men) can’t have a ‘dad body’, they expect them to be perfect.  Hala, an 8th-grade student, echoed Jordyn’s perceptions “I agree because it’s all about body positivity until it comes to men-for women it’s model height and an hourglass figure with breasts and a butt. And for men, it’s tall with abs and a healthy body.”

Beauty is not just based on the textbook definition, but is instead based upon media exposure, pictures, interviews, social media; therefore, the standard set on the foundations of makeup, body touch-ups, photoshop, and professional photographers are unachievable to the average person.

Because images of perceived beautiful people are constantly pushed to the top in social media viewing, women and men, particularly younger generations, find themselves longing to look like these people the media portrays o be the ‘average’ person which then leads to insecurities, body dysmorphia, eating disorders and, in some cases, even suicide as Jessica Ross discusses in  How Society’s Beauty Standards Encourage Eating Disorders”, and CBS News reports in “Body Image Issues And Teen Suicide.”

Hollywood needs to wake up and realize they are hurting others with little to no representation of plus-size figures, disabled beings, and people of color.  I wonder if, when public figures get handed their checks for social media posts and shoots, do they think about the little boy or girl who looks at that photo and changes their whole outlook on their body in a negative way? If they do, are they trying to change the standard to a more realistic one?

“I think, yes, because the beauty standard is always rapidly changing and not always necessarily achievable. One year it can be blonde, skinny, and blue eyes while the next year it can be thick, curly hair and racially ambiguous.”- Queenie, a 10th grade Journalist from New Jersey.