The world’s opinion on beauty and fashion have evolved over the years. Today, the idea of beauty and worth is determined by your waistline, height, the size of certain body parts and how much money you spend on clothes. Women have been known to suffer all kinds of pain and humiliation in order to be considered attractive. Corsets, implants, surgeries and botox, anything to be accepted; beauty is pain after all. Women are willing to jeopardize their lives because they see and hear everyday that thin is beautiful, that skeletal is success. “It's time that all women felt beautiful in their own skin”(Nadeau)
In 2006, a popular television show, “Ugly Betty”, aired that threatened the way media had been perceiving pretty, and made it look petty. Instead of telling women who to be and how to act, it supported the unique quality each individual is born with. It seemed to scream to a world of insecure women that it is okay to be themselves, in fact, it is encouraged. The show stared the average Plain Jane, Betty Suarez, working in the midst of the fashion obsessed, Mode Magazine. She was hired as the assistant to the editor in chief, Daniel Meade, because she was not attractive enough to seduce him. As the show progressed, so did her role at Mode, advancing from assistant to junior editor, without resulting to any of the peer pressure her coworkers promoted. In each episode, as she was criticized for her weight, lack of fashion and even her racial background she earned the respect of almost every character on the show, not to mention the hearts of many viewers as well. Her character dared to be brave and stand up for a world of women, just like Betty, who were trapped in silence and humiliation because they didn’t meet the media’s standards of beauty.
The message didn’t end there, even their advertisements promoted the message of inner beauty. When Saatchi & Saatchi, an advertising company in New Zealand, came up with an ad to promote the show by covering the posters in a mall with a large paper bag, revealing only the shows title, channel and air time, it not only sparked curiosity, but it also mirrored the moral behind the show itself (Duncan). It enticed viewers to look beyond the outside and see what’s inside. People who saw the ad had to truly look underneath a paper bag, in order to see the always smiling and encouraging face of Betty.
Around the same time “Ugly Betty” premiered, Dove started a campaign called “The Campaign for Real Beauty”. In 2011, they conducted a study to better understand how the media was influencing the world’s view on ugly and beautiful. “The study revealed that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful, and that anxiety about looks begins at an early age. In a study of over 1,200 10-to-17-year-olds, a majority of girls, 72%, said they felt tremendous pressure to be beautiful. The study also found that only 11% of girls around the world feel comfortable using the word beautiful to describe their looks, showing that there is a universal increase in beauty pressure and a decrease in girls' confidence as they grow older” (Dove). Another source stated that, “Women’s magazines are full of articles urging that if they can just lose those last twenty pounds, they’ll have it all—the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex, and a rewarding career” (media awareness).
I can relate to the desperate desire to be accepted. Since the day I was given them, my scars have made me feel insecure, especially when I see and hear that the world calls it ugly. The media encourages surgery to cover it up, to erase the marks that make me different, in order to morph me into a plastic clone of the airbrushed images on magazines. I know what it’s like to skip meals in hopes that I can fill the fatal demands of the media. I know what it is like to feel so numb and worthless that I felt the need to drag a razor blade across my flesh and release the faceless pain that was consuming me, telling me I would never be good enough, that I would never be loved. The beauty promoted by the world is brainwashing society. A quote by America Ferrara, the actress who plays Betty, perfectly describes the hope a show like “Ugly Betty” can bring to me, and a million more girls like me; “It's so reassuring to have a woman heroine who triumphs with more than just what she has on the outside... who has more to offer the world than just a pretty picture. To me, the tragedy about this whole image-obsessed society is that young girls get so caught up in just achieving that they forget to realize that they have so much more to offer the world” (Ferrera).
The world’s view on beauty has changed over the years, but that doesn’t mean it cannot change again. The airing of “Ugly Betty” spread a message that planted a seed hope to a thousand broken, insecure hearts long after the final episode aired. It told girls that there is more to them then appearance, and that if they just stay themselves, the opportunities are endless. Life is so much more then only skin deep. We are given hopes, dreams, and a desire to do something great. If we continue to get caught up in appearance and bettering the shell the soul is wrapped in, we forget that “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body” (Lewis). The writers and producers of “Ugly Betty” took a risk when they aired the show, and I believe the risk was worth it. They ventured to show the world that inner beauty is still the best kind of beauty, and that there is more to a woman then her face.
Nadeau, Staci. Dove’s campaign for Real Beauty. 2010.
Duncan. “Ugly Betty Under Wraps”. Inspiration Room. Np, 28 June, 2008. Web. 27 Oct., 2011.
“The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.” Dove. N.p, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.
“Beauty and Body Image in the Media.” Media Awareness. N.p. n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2011
Ferrara, America. “A Biography for America Ferrara.” IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2011
Lewis, C.S. Brainy Quote. 2011