Critical Studies Essay Proposal

The quest for perfection
The media surrounding the Beauty industry is directly effecting young adults and children.

Over the past few decades childhood has been becoming less and less like what a traditional childhood has been for hundreds of years. Children are ‘growing up faster’ and abandoning their toys at a much younger age in place of elaborate technology, magazines and TV.
This is a change that has been documented by many, though the less explored side of the ‘growing up too fast’ theory lies within the lives of young girls. Amongst the exponentially growing amount of the child population playing games and drinking alcohol, there is also a rise in the number of girls that feel the need to wear makeup, style their hair and dress a certain way out in public.

The reasons behind my suspicions that the various media surrounding the beauty industry (and, of course the beauty industry itself) is directly effecting young adults and children are plentiful. This belief sparked quite some years ago when I, myself was a child. A few of my little sister’s friends (all around the age of 13-14 at the time) had come over to our house before an end of year meal. I let them use my bedroom as I have large mirrors, and the natural, happy girls I saw walking into my room exited hours later looking like completely different people. Their eyes were lined, lashes caked with mascara – ‘imperfections’ covered with thick liquid still baring streaks from the brushes they used to apply the product. Their hair was burned to conform different shapes, feet crushed inside heeled shoes and bodies on full display through tight fitting clothing. It, to me, was normal at the time as I too wore a lot of makeup. Now however, I find it bizarre behaviour for such a young group of girls, they quite simply no longer looked anywhere close to the age they actually were.
From then on I have always had a curiosity for the mental state of young girls and women, and what causes them to make certain decisions about their body and appearance.
I, myself have been influenced in so many ways in the past, be it via the internet, the movies I’ve watched, advertisements I saw, shop windows, magazines, catwalks, models, it doesn’t matter. The point is, I pretended to be someone else, in fact I wanted so badly not to be me. This past behaviour sickens me to the core because I am me, there is nobody else like me and quite frankly, now that I’ve past the stage I was in, I really am glad of that. I embrace my imperfections and have learned to do so through a way that was so hard to accept a few years ago.
So why is it so difficult for these young girls? Why do they have to hide behind this mask that they create? Do they feel comfortable when they are not in fact ‘themselves’ anymore? How deep does this fakery actually go? Is it just o the surface or is it something more personal and deep? These are just a few of my many questions I am looking forward to answering since as I have experienced these emotions personally and still, years later I don’t fully understand them.

Reasons and theories aside, the plain fact is that so many young girls hide themselves, they partake in dangerous methods in order to change their appearance, in a lot of cases developing life threatening mental illnesses along the way. So why is this? Are they trying to look a lot older then they actually are? Achieve social status? Or is it something they are doing for themselves. Finding answers is going to be my quest throughout the ‘Critical Studies’ module, to find out why. What is the cause of this behaviour, and what does the beauty industry have to do with it.

My aims and objectives for this topic are to broaden my knowledge in of a field I commonly use within my portfolio work across both Photography and Design. I tend to use a lot of young females in my photoshoots and personally I find designing anything fashion or beauty related the most stimulating projects to chase. This may be because I am a young woman myself but to me, the female form is one of beauty and I would like nothing more than to understand why they undermine their own beauty with fakery and other tactics of achieving ‘beauty’ – or whatever it is they are aiming for (which I intend to cover too).
One of my main goals is to bring to light what it is that incurs this behaviour… to answer many of the questions I have earlier proposed. This will require extensive primary research across various subjects correlating with the topic at hand.

It’s my objective to discern if this epidemic of beauty-related media is the cause of self hate amongst young girls and whether various external factors such as age ranges, social media, upbringings, nature vs nurture, areas, parent influence, media, beauty industry, tradition and human nature have any impact on this at all. Not only am I going to be delving into the topics previously mentioned, but a brief look at the general public and how this industry works is also of interest to me, related industries such as fashion, modelling and main influential brands shall be a point of focus as I feel that before I research how this industry is effecting a certain audience, I need to know more about the industry within itself.

My response to these questions is yet to be seen as most of the above are just theoretical ideas that I am yet to develop, though after a lot of research I have found a path I am happy to pursue. I would definitely say that this research is going to benefit my portfolio and expand my knowledge of the subject(s) I often adopt within my work.

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