Beauty Ideals At World Press Photo 10

2010-10-12 21:14 | Comments: 6

People worldwide experience pressure to conform to specific, often commercially created, ideals of beauty. Christopher, 22, examines his chest after a waxing treatment to remove hair in a New York beauty salon. — World Press Photo, Contemporary Issues 3rd prize singles

Photo credit: Zed Nelson, United Kingdom, for INSTITUTE

World Press Photo 10 Contemporary Issues 3rd prize Zed Nelson

Hi, while the dominating photos, which are likely to keep in mind from a World Press Photo exhibition, are related to our world's tragedies such as war, poverty, and disasters, there are also several side categories focusing on different topics.

In this year's exhibition I would like to highlight Zed Nelson's multiple awarded and beautiful photo, depicting a facet of our beauty industry.

The photo is part of a series of pictures published in Nelson's book Love Me, a photographic essay about our obsession with youth and beauty, and the globalization of beauty ideals.

It is a very interesting and multi-faceted debate in my opinion, and it is difficult to answer where the true problem lies, in the industry, media, lack of values, lack of supporting self-confidence and individuality, broken famalies, mass population, or in the too rapid technological, economical and cultural development?

I think it is ok and important to have role models and ideals, but having only enforced stereotypes is the opposite of good.

From a very high level point of view, there are many more important factors than one's physical appearance, yet a myriad of scientific studies have reported, it is still important in our social everyday life. Sure, I also want to look good and conform to social norms in a constructive way in order "to avoid unpopularity" (Alain de Botton) and being able to find a partner, appreciation and love, which gets more difficult, the more unpopular and unconventional you are. However, without diversity we would not be able to exist and evolve, and before blaming the industry and others, I think we should look at ourselves, do I respect the stranger, the different, the uncommon?

World Press Photo 10 Vienna Exhibition
October 7th – November 4th 2010 @ Galerie Westlicht (Westbahnstr 40)
Open daily 11 am – 7 pm (9 pm on Thursday)

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I like that it's showing a picture of a dude too. There's so much of that "you don't have to conform to be beautiful" pitched to women - what about these guys who get it from all sides. Though I feel like after a while (as we age) we'll start to realize how full-of-crap a lot of the beauty standards are.

@birdie: Thanks for your comment, I wanted to show that men can also experience this beauty ideal and norm pressure, and it is good if one can escape it.

It's such a fine line between wanting to look your best and wanting to be the epitome of perfection as dictated by the culture/society you live in. Human beings, being social creatures, have a natural need to fit in. That's something we can't blame ourselves for, and as you were asserting above: to some degree finding a niche where we belong becomes "difficult, the more unpopular and unconventional you are."

It's a difficult issue to resolve when you think about our nature, and then the perpetuation of specific ideals by the media for the sake of money, social pressures for the sake of appearances, etc

The bottom line is, if a woman feels like she's trying to hard to please others, or that she is hiding herself for fear of judgement, then something is wrong. Otherwise, I don't see anything wrong with working towards being the best possible you, even if that happens to align with "standard" beauty ideals.

Great post btw!

xx

Judy

@Judy

Thanks for sharing your point of view, the more I think about the topic the more complex it gets. I think key is also to find the right balance between "the need to fit in", the need to be yourself, between conformance and non-conformance.

I also love your concept about being the best possible *you*, which can align with the "standard" but does not need to to be attractive and coveted.

Hi, I have actually seen this exhibition when it came to Cardiff last month. The photos are beautiful and are all very thought provoking, it sparked a few discussions between me and the other half. What is beauty and what are we willing to do to achieve it. Great post!

came to Cardiff last month. The photos are beautiful and are all very thought provoking, it sparked a few discussions between me and the other half. Wh

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