Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A tired cliché we have all heard countless times usually utilized as a defense of personal perspective, taste, and opinion. But, where does the sense of whether something is aesthetically appealing originate? Is it biological, chemical, or environmental? Is it a shared cultural perception or is it product of the media’s interpretation of what is hot and what is not? I believe we can all agree that the answer is: all of the above.
The concept of beauty evolves with time and varies from place to place. But, how does an individual, local, regional, national, and global acceptance of beauty proliferate and become more popular over a wider geographic area. While one could argue whether there is an “accepted” idea of beauty on varying scales, it is undeniable that there are ideal features promoted and depicted in television, film, and print. But, does the media dictate to the public what is acceptable, or do we as the public communicate to the media what is ideal through exercise of individual display? It seems an open channel exists to facilitate shared ideas between the media and the public with the media clearly possessing the upper hand. Ultimately, however, the “media,” comprised of an oligarchy of individuals, project their perceptions of beauty onto the public.
As media and culture become exportable commodities, so with them go the cultural perception of beauty. For producers, network executives, and advertisers appealing to a global mainstream is a top priority. As a result programs and advertisements depict symbols and images that reflect the perceived taste of their audience. But, to what audience are they attempting to appeal? In the process of attracting the widest swath of the population, a strict definition of acceptable is created.
Transnational corporations propagate images and ideas of beauty via marketing campaigns for global consumer goods as well as entertainment media. Altering and tailoring content to a local or regional is typically the sole discretion of the producing organization. While there are instances where content has been changed to reflect racial, ethnical, and cultural differences in each market, some aspects of physical aesthetic remain consistent.
I would love to delve deeper in to the specifications for the “ideal” beauty region by region it would take much more than a short blog post to compare the Western preference for tan skin with Eastern preference for fair skin. Even this vague statement fails do justice for the complexities of regional preference for particular features. However, it is worth watching these videos of McDonald’s commercials from across the globe and comparing and contrasting the actors in them.