Are you sensing my anger and repulsion, yet? First, what are the criteria for beautiful people? Beautiful people are chosen based on the photos they upload to their profiles. Isn't it possible that these people don't even look this way? In the online world, we can cultivate the identities and male attention we cannot possess in real life. My most obvious concern is that this site divides the "ugly" versus "beautiful" people based on I'm sure narrow European beauty ideals. Good job beautifulpeople.com, you sent 30,000 people to counseling (Yes, I'm know I'm over-exaggerating). This incident magnifies how much our outer looks define our inner selves. The message that's hidden in each article about this website is that "looks" are what matter. Inner beauty's a nice add-on, but you don't need it when you're beautiful on the outside!
Consider the website's opening image below:
I enjoy that the managers have made some attempt to make it look "multicultural." The website offers the seductive message that joining will lead members to an alternate world where only beautiful people exist. This image perplexes me. Is the point to create a human race without "ugly" people? Why are there animals in this? Each person in this image is thin and perfect-looking. I find it funny that this photo displays such a strong image of physical beauty while members only show their faces on their profiles. Another interesting point is how similar beauty ideals in Denmark are compared to the United States. I would argue that they may be more strict in Denmark. After spending a semester there, I could feel the tension for some of my peers who revealed that they "felt uncomfortable" around such "beautiful" Danish people and couldn't wait to return to the U.S. with more "normal-looking people." It was an intriguing comment for me because I hadn't looked at it from that perspective before.
While it would be easy to sit here on my high horse judging a website that is based in Denmark, I question: Is this site worse than People's The 50 Most Beautiful List they compile each year in the U.S.? Jennifer Lopez is People's Most Beautiful Person in the World for 2011. I guess last year she didn't make the cut. Beauty politics change with age and levels of stardom. People.com is another site that divides the "beautiful" versus the "ugly" people. Yes, I don't want to be a hypocrite here. Of course, I enjoy flipping through the pages of attractive men gracing People's pages. They're irresistible and marketed well. People entices us with men that can cook, are sensitive, and look great without a t-shirt on. The inside and outside do matter because these men have both!?
Yet, People's beauty contest is problematic. It tells young people that beauty is a competition and the greatest accomplishment in life. While I'm sure young girls aren't telling their parents, "This magazine contest is contributing to my low self-worth" they are telling their peers that "They do not make the cut in friend groups because they're not cool or pretty enough." These messages are not created in a vacuum, and I cannot place all of the blame on television programs or advertisements, but they contribute. Young people internalize messages to be "beautiful and thin," and therefore, judge others and themselves based on those standards.
Who will make the cut in 2012?
I often question: How can we navigate such a contradictory world that tells young girls to "not judge a book by its cover" while bombarding them with thin, perfect beauty ideals on their favorite television programs? I think it can begin by educating ourselves about the ways media influences young people. If we can't make smarter advertisements, we can become smarter viewers, readers, and writers.