We live in an increasingly image obsessed world. The value, concept and importance of beauty is one of the most controversial talked about subjects within the media industry today, and more and more young girls aspire to have that all important perfect image. From top high-fashion catwalk models, to LA’s influx of Hollywood Blonde Barbies who are consistently emulated worldwide in a new found wave of hair fake tan and eyelash extension craved girls – magazines and television are inundated with images of perfectly flawless beautiful women. Many young girls feel pressured by these representations of women to conform. Statistics suggest that an astonishing 9 out of 10 women are unhappy with their appearance, over half would obtain surgery to change it, and almost three quarters believe that if they were better looking it would make them much more successful.
My focal point for The Value of Beauty is incredibly inspiring 6 part documentary Beauty & The Beast - Ugly Face of Prejudice. This programme is in depth documentary on Channel 4 titled Beauty & The Beast is an interesting series which pairs together two individuals - a person whose looks are a priority for professional career purposes, and a person who has a form of facial disfigurement. Their journey will be spent side by side, to discuss and understand the value of beauty, from two different perspectives. The importance of beauty can be described as a form of fascism – where it is perceived in society that beautiful good looking individuals get further in life than someone who is facially disfigured. In addition to this, how important is it to learn more about loving and accepting who you are as a person? You can catch the entire series at: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/beauty-the-beast-ugly-face-of-prejudice/4od
Meet Laura Summers a new found friend of mine who I hugely admire. She appeared on the last episode of Beauty & The Beast alongside burn victim Michael Boateng. During this episode Laura visited London's renowned Cosmetic Surgery district - Harley Street and was turned down as a candidate opting for liposuction treatment. I spoke to her about beauty, the stigma attached to glamour models, and the importance of her appearance. I realised that we have a lot in common and share the same viewpoints. Laura is far from superficial as many may think or vain in an arrogant conceited way. Over the years she has learnt to appreciate her natural and modified [as she describes it] beauty after being bullied quite severely at school. Her confidence drastically diminished. The effects of bullying can be emotionally scarring and increasingly difficult to overcome. Having spoken to Laura I can tell she is – mentally, exactly where she needs to be. In truth what is wrong with enhancing or modifying ones beauty?
Complete this sentence Beauty is... In the eye of the beholder.
What's the best advice anyone has ever given you? Be exactly who you want to be. Make the most of what out have and if something makes you happy, as long as you’re not hurting others do it as much as you can.
What did you learn most from Beauty & The Beast? That there are many different people in the world, all different shapes and sizes, some fat - some thin. We are all different and as long as you’re comfortable in your own skin and happy with your inner self you shouldn't have to change for anything or anyone.
If you could change one thing about yourself looks wise what would it be and why? I wouldn't change anything now as I’m 110% happy with what I look like!
Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 yrs? I want to be married with children living in a huge house with an amazing husband and my own TV presenting career.
Do you have a message for the people who bullied you in school, and any haters out there? Thanks you for putting me through all the misery and pain, because I wouldn't have the amazing life I do now and would not be the strong independent genuine person I have grown into.
What would you change about the industry you work in if anything? I would change the way people view ‘models’ and the stigma associated with us.
What's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you in relation to beauty or a compliment perhaps? Someone said to me that my inner beauty outshines my outer beauty.
The desire to perfect physical appearance has become a priority for many females, a tedious journey for some, or financially draining for others. Despite this, what concerns me the most is a question which will always remain unanswered - Who are we to judge? For example, when individuals are faced with troubling past experiences which have shattered their self confidence and worth, we are quick to criticise, gossip about, or form a stereotypical viewpoint of what we think the persons characters like - without fully understanding why the individual has gone to various lengths to improve their beauty. Self confidence is an essential ingredient for happiness Religion teaches us to love and accept one another and that God is the only one who should judge. Nowadays it seems as though everyone has something to critique.
Models who have experienced this - I strongly empathise with, in this lucrative industry we should applaud the fact that these women are stronger and far more intelligent than society perceives, with the unperturbed ability to dismiss negativity, and constant criticism from readers, viewers, press, on a regular basis. It takes a great deal of strength and courage.
Laura represents millions of young women out there today, who have enhanced their natural beauty to pursue a career which relies largely on physical appearance. A career which brings tough criticism, yet also brings an amazing sense of self gratification and enjoyment. It is totally wrong to judge someone by face value, without understanding their endurances. Cosmetic procedures should always be thoroughly researched and it is equally important to seek advice and guidance from someone close.
‘I don't believe makeup and the right hairstyle alone can make a woman beautiful. The most radiant woman in the room is the one full of life and experience.’ - Sharon Stone.
Learn more about Laura Summers by visiting: http://www.larissasummers.net
Catch Laura & Michael’s episode of Beauty & The Beast: Ugly Face of Prejudice on Channel 4 OD:
The last episode of the series is on Channel 4 at 8pm on Wednesday 9th March.
By Kemi Giwa