What is the popular idea of feminine beauty? As Courtney mentioned in her blog post, there seems to be a dichotomy between models and average women... and there is definitely a reason why. Every time we see a picture of "beauty", it is not a real representation. The women we see advertised are not what most women look like, and in addition, the images are so altered that we can never be sure what they really look like. However, this says something about our concept of beauty as a society.
Since the beginning of recorded history, women have been known to wear makeup. Why is this? Beautifying oneself is an idea that has always existed, and who can say why it originated. Perhaps it was to attract the opposite sex, or perhaps it was just to make oneself feel more beautiful. However, our current society has taken this idea of supplementing beauty to new levels, by digitally altering images even after makeup has been applied to already gorgeous models. The art of retouching has always been fascinating to me. Every image we see nowadays, I can assure you, has been retouched in at least some small way. This has an extreme effect on our self-images and gives us all a false sense that these "perfect" people exist out there somewhere, and that we are just not anywhere near their level.
The idea that really captures my attention is the fact that an image can be altered in such a way that most viewers would deem it more attractive than the original. By stereotyping beauty like this, retouchers reenforce this unattainable idea of attractiveness, and specifically, feminine beauty that permeates the media. This website has many examples of images before and after retouching.
In the above images, the differences are slight, but I know that when I look at the two, the right one seems to have a "perfect" quality that the other lacks. While both are attractive, the image on the right clearly represents an idealized form of beauty that someone could never actually achieve. Her back is smoothed out, small skin imperfections are erased, shine is added to her eyes, and even the nose is slightly altered, making an overall more "perfect" looking woman. This example is nowhere near the most extreme that I've seen, but it still shows that we as a society can't accept natural beauty, and must alter it in order to make it more attractive. Why is this? Why have we been conditioned to think that women in their completely natural state are not the most beautiful?
Or do you disagree with me? Which do you think is more attractive? Do you think that our need to alter ourselves to perfection is twisted and degrading towards natural beauty, or is it just that our sense of beauty has always included an altering of what is naturally there?