What’s Influencing Our Attraction to Beauty? Our Visual Diet

Forbes published a fascinating article, Can Media Help Shift  Our Beauty Ideals Back in a Healthy Direction?  The story challenges our long-standing beliefs that our attraction to beauty is largely culturally based e.g., we admire thin people because their thinness is a reflection of wealth.

Instead, the article cites a study conducted by scientists at Durham University in England that proves how over-exposure to certain imagery determines cultural norms.  When people were shown many images of overweight or thin women over time, their views of attractiveness changed.  The more the subjects were exposed to thin women, the more they found them attractive, and the more they were exposed to overweight women, the more they found them attractive!

While this study depicts we human beings as quite impressionable, there’s a silver lining here according to the article.  If the media can be accused of manipulating us with constant exposure to harmful images, then, they can easily expose us to healthy images and help us change our expectations of ourselves and others.

I believe it.  Media — advertisements, articles, fashion spreads, and all — have the power and the duty to make a positive impact on our lives.  As the legendary ad man, Bill Bernbach said over a half a century ago, “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”

Let’s not eschew the media for their use of harmful portrayals of people, but rather, encourage it to feed us a diet of healthy visuals.

What's Influencing Our Attraction to Beauty? Our Visual Diet


Forbes published a fascinating article, Can Media Help Shift  Our Beauty Ideals Back in a Healthy Direction?  The story challenges our long-standing beliefs that our attraction to beauty is largely culturally based e.g., we admire thin people because their thinness is a reflection of wealth.
Instead, the article cites a study conducted by scientists at Durham University in England that proves how over-exposure to certain imagery determines cultural norms.  When people were shown many images of overweight or thin women over time, their views of attractiveness changed.  The more the subjects were exposed to thin women, the more they found them attractive, and the more they were exposed to overweight women, the more they found them attractive!
While this study depicts we human beings as quite impressionable, there’s a silver lining here according to the article.  If the media can be accused of manipulating us with constant exposure to harmful images, then, they can easily expose us to healthy images and help us change our expectations of ourselves and others.
I believe it.  Media — advertisements, articles, fashion spreads, and all — have the power and the duty to make a positive impact on our lives.  As the legendary ad man, Bill Bernbach said over a half a century ago, “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”
Let’s not eschew the media for their use of harmful portrayals of people, but rather, encourage it to feed us a diet of healthy visuals.

More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Want to read more about beauty?  Take a look at what we curated this week:

  • Another cultural and scientific explanation for how we evaluate human beauty

         http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/10/beauty-is-objective-subjective/

  • Coca Cola and Sanofi are combining forces to develop a beauty drink

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443854204578060662301872612.html

  • And if that’s not crazy enough, Brazilian model, Gisele, swears by a candy that has beauty benefits!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2218071/Beauty-Candy-eaten-Gisele-claims-improve-complexion-boost-health-slow-ageing-process.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

  • Women entering the engineering space…and not giving up on their femininity while doing so!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/siliconangle/2012/10/15/women-engineers/

Any more stories to add?  Tweet us or comment @Beautyskew

Week in Review: 8/19-8/25

In the Cape this week but still had some free time to share our thoughts on beauty in culture.  Take a look:

Why is that we change settings and we feel so different…so far away from our other lives; and what does it mean for our appreciation of beauty? Weekend Observations: A New Place, A New Perspective

Isn’t amazing how an image can conjure up so many other senses –sight, smell, sound and even taste? Pic of the Week: A Taste of the Cape

A neuroscience take on why we are attracted to art. Why Are We Attracted to Art? A Neuroscience POV

More fascinating reading from the week’s sources More to Love: Additions to The Reading List

Have an amazing end-of-the-summer weekend!