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Societal pressures in appearance weigh heavily in the Kardashian era

December 9, 2015

I recently read an article published in The Guardian titled, “What does ‘the natural look’ mean in the Kardashian age?” Normally, I would never read anything with the Kardashian name attached to or even associated with it. I have always been very anti-Kardashian. I never understood the way my peers worship Kylie or how they can make time to religiously tune into “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” just to tweet about how dissatisfied they are with their own lives simply because it’s not up to par with these women that have done absolutely nothing worthwhile to become the household names they are today. But I have always liked to keep a very natural look and I feel the societal pressures to look more like a Kardashian every day, so I was curious. I read the article a few times, and it really got me thinking about what it’s like to be a woman in “the Kardashian age,” as Jess Cartner-Morley, the writer of the article put it.

In the age of the phrase “I woke up like this,” it’s not a surprise that “the natural look” is in fact in again. However, the natural look that you may see a celebrity or a model sporting is not as natural as it appears to be. It turns out; it takes just as long for these women to get this look as it would take them to get any other look. Cartner-Morley cited “buzzwords” from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, like simple, minimal and natural. “Confusingly, though, there were also endless photos of the models sitting patiently at their makeup stations, hours before call-time, with their hair netted in hot rollers,” she wrote.

That is confusing, isn’t it? As a college woman who has never cared too much about how she looked or any celebrities’ activities, I feel like somewhat of an outsider from my peers. I’m not obsessed with what Kylie is wearing, I don’t follow anyone with Kardashian or Jenner for a last name on anything and I’ve never once contoured. Hell, I just learned how to curl my own hair two weeks ago. Why do these things seem to be the basics of how to be a millennial woman in today’s society? And why do I feel pressure to do them?

I can’t answer these questions for every woman but I can look at them as they apply to my own life. I have always struggled with acne, most people can tell that just from looking at me. There’s almost never a day where you can’t see a red spot, a scar, or a fresh pimple on my face. Despite this, somehow, I have never been a daily make-up wearer. I believe that the skin I was born with may not be perfect, but it’s who I am. Having acne gives me character. If anything, it has taught me the very valuable lesson of “this too shall pass” because one pimple might be on my face one day, but are the people I meet really going to remember that? And is that pimple going to be there in another week? No! However, lately I have felt more pressure to go out in full make-up. I don’t know if it’s me being at a new school, me trying to figure out where I am going to fit in in society, or if it is just insecurity deep inside me, but I don’t like it. For me, wearing make-up is a double edged sword. I wear it to feel better about how I look, but I feel guilty that I no longer don’t care about my appearance the way I used to.

My own mother is quite the opposite of me. I remember being in the grocery store with her growing up, and her always grabbing at least one of the tabloids at the check-out line. She also got many beauty magazines in the mail. Her bathroom counter now is covered in expensive make-up, and she never goes out without some make-up, unless she is exercising. She is a beautiful, very fashionable 40-something woman with endless beauty advice, and I wouldn’t trade her for any other mom in the world. But it boggles my mind how I ended up being so much different from her in the self-appearance aspect of life.

We are all bombarded by images of celebrities every day in tabloids, and on TV and the internet. I know that celebrities’ Instagram selfies are extremely retouched, and that they pay big bucks for make-up artists to make them look flawless. But somehow, some women are not as enlightened on the subject. I had a real argument with a friend once about celebrity skin. She was convinced that because celebrities have a lot of money, that they have perfect skin. I tried to tell her that these women have the same problems as us; they just use their money to cover it up. I never knew other girls thought this way.

I am in no way condemning women like my mother and many of my friends who are daily make-up wearers. I have the utmost respect for those who swear by their lipsticks, Naked eyeshadow pallets, and their contour routines. If anything, I envy their talent and passion. I simply do not want to be them. But I feel the societal pressure to be. My pressure has obviously been quite minimal, but I feel sorry for the women whose pressure has been immense. That’s what I condemn.

I can’t entirely blame the Kardashians, even though I think they are the shallowest of them all. I was in the depths of the internet the other day when I stumbled upon a photo gallery titled something like “Look at the Kardashians with no make-up…LMAO!” I looked at all of the images, and I did not laugh my ass off. I think these women look beautiful with a bare face, better even! This problem is societal. It begins and ends with every woman, famous or not. But I can’t help but ask myself why these famous women don’t use their fame to promote an actual “natural look,” one that doesn’t require standing in front of a mirror for hours on end, obsessing. When is real going to be in again? When will it be okay to be happy with the body and the skin you are born with?

Comments

Molly Kinney on 16 Dec 2015: Melanie Meyers - The Kardashians are famous because their father got OJ Simpson off scott free for murdering his wife- he was his lawyer. Kris would be in no position to have started the companies she did if her husband had not brought the spotlight upon her.

Trevor Hoglund on 14 Dec 2015: Real is never going to be 'in again' because it never was 'in'. People will always seek to idolize some form of fashion that may make them better than others, putting no effort into a look would undermine the common concept that in order to be successful one must put forth effort. If you spend no money or time on looking the way you do, would that not make those who do spend time and money envious that you can get away with so much without? And how about the companies who make money off of your buying products? How are they going to feel about their profits suddenly dropping because somebody didn't look horrible without them? As such there is a strong economic and social tie to needing there to be some unnatural-ness to presenting one's self. Then again I'm not a woman so I don't really have any of the pressure, just an outside observer, I guess. Also, props to Melanie for bringing genocide into it, because nothing is ever complete without a good reference to genocide. :) tl;dr capitalism is why

Melanie Meyers on 10 Dec 2015: The Kardashian-Jenner clan utilizes their important opportunity to highlight significant issues through their celebrity and social media platforms. Robert Kardashian, the patriarch of the Kardashians, is of Armani descent. Subsequently, the Kardashians often reflect on the Armenian Genocide that almost completely removed the Armenian population from Turkey in the early 20th century. This is significantly detrimental to a large population of innocent people and often times this genocide is completely forgotten about. However, the Kardashians have the unique ability to highlight this issue, which may not be discussed in a typical high school student's social studies curriculum. The clan's stardom is a result of Kim Kardashian's sex tape, however, if it weren't for Kris Jenner's business skills and her momager ways, she would never have been able to build the family empire up to what it is today. Ms. Kimberly Kardashian-West may have simply been a one-hit wonder after all. Their success is derived from sources that are very common in the entertainment and fashion industries. They are able to not only support themselves, but also make dreams come true for many others around the world. On December 10, 2015, Kim Kardashian sent the world on a quest via Twitter to find the young girl who is seeking to donate 1,000 shoes to Soles for Souls. Kardashian is able to do this through her fame, and her financial success. Check it out at http://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/a13302/kim-and-kanye-donated-shoes-to-little-girl/! The definition of shallow, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, is defined as "of little depth" and "not exhibiting, requiring, or capable of serious thought." Believing that the Kardashian-Jenner clan are "the shallowest of them all" is completely subjective, however, the Kardashians are in fact quite intelligent business people. Their natural look may not be a make-up free face, and I condemn you for choosing not to participate in the make-up crazed world. However, the Kardashian-Jenner's livelihood is based on selling beauty products, among other things, to millions of woman across the globe and I think that is brilliant! We live in an America where I don't have to wear a dress everyday, and I most certainly don't wear make-up everyday, but I receive the pleasure, just like your mother, of spending a lot of money, on excellent beauty products. I love my time at the Clinique counter, yet I don't feel the need to participate in making myself up everyday, and that is thanks to a mother, who celebrates women for who they are, children of God, not wears of make-up and designer clothes.

Mrs. Koss on 10 Dec 2015: Tori!! You are an awesome writer. I wish I had the confidence to be like YOU!!