I recently decided to put a post on an MSN discussion forum to do with the low self-esteem of young women and whether beauty polls were linked to it.
Here's the post:
"As we're discussing FHM, I'll ignore the men side of the argument (just so any feminists out there make themselves look like idiots if they go nuts at this). Beauty lost its innocence with the dawn of the "skin age". Old beliefs about celibacy and what women should and should not show, were challenged simultaneously with the dawn of the avant garde age of the 20th century.
The furthering of the rights of women gave not only the power for women to vote, but for those of a more feminist streak to challenge the will of man. Such challenging coupled with the desire for avant garde led to the inevitable shedding of layers. How? Well there is the practical aspect of not being in a very hot dress in the middle of summer, which meant that women could for the first time 'strip off'. But also the desire for the new; the shedding off of old ways.
Beauty used to be about a nice face, a gentle smile and perhaps the less desirable corset thin waist. What men got to see was limited and therefore what men could judge physically about a woman was also limited. The man didn't know what he'd be getting into bed with. He only knew the face that he'd be staring at for the rest of his life if he married the woman.
With the showing of legs, or a little bit of shoulder, sexual beauty began to become a matter for consideration. We judge what we perceive, and when showing legs, men inevitably will judge that. Women will also consider it, and that is what establishes competitive beauty.
After the war, French engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim developed the bikini, first displayed in 1946 at a fashion show. This showed shoulders, stomach and legs. Put simply, it showed "skin"! The top half of the bikini is fitted around the breasts much like a bra, and the lower half covering the groin. Why mention this? Because all that hides the complete nakedness of the woman is a thin piece of fabric, which is hugging the body in such a way that the imagination need not go too far to destroy the purpose of the fabric being there in the first place.
The imagination also need not go too far because pornography and nudity of other descriptions has become common place through media types that are available to all of us. In the 1970s the first publicly shown porno movie, Deep Throat, was released in America. Several cinemas banned the showing of the movie, but it represented an industry that was taking off and pandering to the sexual desires of the average man. Later on, the female side of the industry was discovered and tapped into. It was this industry that has "informed" us of the nakedness of the other gender, which previously wasn't common knowledge until after marriage.
Further decades have shown the spread of sexual beauty to the younger generations. As with women in the late 19th and early 20th century, the youth have been "set free" and previous methods of control removed. The youth have found their voice and have established their identity. It is no surprise that it has stemmed from the ways of the adult world. No teenager wants to be like a toddler, so the only other age group to mimic is that of the older generation.
Some of the youth want to be beautiful, and they do that by following the rules of sexual beauty, established by models and celebrities. This is because a large part of what makes a celebrity famous is their sexual beauty and escapades. Overpowering sexual beauty is only to be found from the demonstrations by celebrities.
Some elder women (although saying that to a 20 year old could be taken as a snipe at their beauty) are as much concerned about their sexual beauty. Their concern over the matter is arguably insane. Any remarks, looks or perceivable actions against their beauty upset them. Even actions not targeted at their beauty can be taken to be targeted at their beauty because of paranoia. And that is partly why there is low self-esteem. It's a vicious cycle of paranoia and despair.
If the young women (<18) of this country are really copying everything the older women (18<) do, then they are also copying their low self-esteem. In my opinion, sexual beauty has become too much of a concern and wrongfully the accepted standard by which everyone should be physically judged.
In summary, the idea of beauty has become one of sexual beauty. The idea of simply appreciating a pretty face or the delicate skin of the hands is an archaic one. The modern generation want more skin than that of the hands. What can we do to change that but strive to humble ourselves and appreciate delicate beauty?"
I've left more than enough holes for you intelligent lot to fill in, so please share your thoughts with me on the matter.