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  • Writer's pictureRKPROST

Beauty is Pain

The section on self-destruction in which “men suffer self-inflicted pain and discomfort every day as part of the price they pay to embody an acceptable (clean-shaven) image of masculinity,” made me think about how this also applies to women. I found the men’s sports slogan, “no pain, no gain” comparable to the women’s saying in which, “beauty is pain.” This female equivalent is similar to men undergoing pain while exercising to achieve an impossible standard. Society taught both men and women that one must experience discomfort or have a physical response to feeling a sense of accomplishment.

There lies a contradiction regarding beauty standards and body image. On one hand, one must endure pain or possess things to achieve beauty. On the other hand, society says people have an inherent beauty and are perfect just the way they are. For example, women wear heels, wax, face the potential to poke an eye out with a mascara wand, or risk getting burned by a curling or straightening iron regularly to achieve beauty. For men, their “body is being disciplined and controlled” during brutal exercise regimes or they encounter “pain and often body wounding” during male initiation rituals. These examples make me wonder why any of it is necessary? I question whether suffering through these procedures betters oneself or if one is trying to live up to norms perpetuated by the media.

The media promotes consumerism to make oneself more physically attractive and represents societal expectations of people. Women feel inclined to purchase products to enhance themselves and men feel as though they need the best equipment to train themselves. The media also represents unrealistic images of people. This warps and streamlines people’s perceptions into thinking there is only one model for portraying beauty and for a body to look. Society is ever evolving, therefore it leaves opportunity for people to challenge and reject what the media promotes. “Beauty is pain,” but it does not have to be.

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