Essay on the Ugly Truth about Beauty

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Beauty has always been the talk of the town since the dawn of time and it involves both men and women. However, as years passed, women are being put as the main highlight when we are talking about beauty. Men, on the other hand, will be deemed as feminine if they show interest in beauty. Cambridge English Dictionary defines beauty as the quality of being pleasing, especially to look at, or someone or something that gives great pleasure, especially when you look at it. Studies suggest that attractive people make more money, get better opportunities in the social status hierarchy, earn lighter court sentences and are considered friendlier. This scenario leads to why today’s society focuses on beauty so much that you can see beauty ads everywhere and brands competing to release their products. Everyone wants to look pretty and presentable. For better or worse, beauty matters. How much it matters can test our values. We have been fed with this stigma of ‘if you are beautiful, people will love you more’ forever that we do not realize there are more ugly truth about the beauty industry compared to nice ones. This essay will discuss the ugly truth about the beauty industry from three perspectives namely the effects of beauty propaganda on female consumers, the role of media in recognizing the values of beauty, and the influence on one’s body image. All three points will be supported with evidence to strengthen the claim.

The first point is beauty industry promotes unrealistic ideals. In this cosmopolitan era, we have easy access to beauty ads because the amount of beauty advertisements is overwhelming and we can see it every day and everywhere. Little did we know, that we were being brainwashed by the images that were shown on these advertisements. Spare a moment to think, if the main goal of the beauty industry is to make women feel confident about their appearances, then why do beauty ads normalize being skinny as more beautiful compared to when you gain weight? A study done by Marika Tiggeman and Belinda McGill for the School of Psychology at Flinders University of South Australia concluded that “controlled exposure to a thin ideal image elicits appearance concerns and evokes comparison processing in vulnerable women” (Tiggeman and McGill, 2004, p. 26). This line indicates that women always compare their images with the ones in the media, which indirectly leaves them with low self-esteem. The current beauty standards are illogical and ridiculous. Women are seen as beauty objects instead of as human beings that should be loved for who they are. This situation somehow has created prejudice against those who do not meet the standard. Worst case scenario, it could lead to depression, extreme dieting, and eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa.

In contrast to the above point, if we look from the brighter side, the beauty industry does not encourage nonsensical beauty standards but they are promoting healthy well-being and sustainable growth in one self. According to GlobalData (2020), a market research firm, the health and beauty sector is the fastest-growing sector and is forecast to grow by 8.8 percent by 2024 (UK: Health & Beauty 2019-2024. This proves that consumers are starting to pay attention to their body image. The idea of looking beautiful and presentable does not imply to women only, but men too.

Moving on to the second point, media influences the industry on how they view and portray women. Traditional media such as magazines and journals are believed to influence views of appearance and women’s looks. The media plays a significant role in the picture of people through the knowledge and interpretation of what people consider as attractive or appealing. Our society has been fed with a belief that says if you are obese, you need to lose weight until you are skinny and if you are ugly, you should fix your look and be stunning. This sounds so wrong and sickening. To lose weight until you become skinny is unhealthy and you will put your health at risk. Next, no one is born ugly. We are beautiful in our way and we should not let the media determine the definition of beauty. In the past two decades, empirical research has been abundant concerning the impact of exposure to idealized bodies in the media on how people perceive and evaluate their bodies. Most of this research has been on women, among whom the idea that ‘thin is beautiful’ is prevalent (Mills et al., 2017). This research infers that women experience in negative shift in body image after being exposed to these slim beauty depictions by the media.

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On the other side of the coin, this point encourages women to be more attentive to themselves by loving their features and not using mass media’s unreasonable beauty standards to measure their beauty. We cannot blame the media fully for this image presentation. Society and culture should be counted too because the ridiculous beauty standards have existed since years ago. Why did they allow this to continue up until today? Why did they portray such unattainable ideals which caused people to have high perceptions of beauty? Everyone contributes to the making of today’s ideal image so this is the aftermath that will probably take a decade or more to be changed and accepted (again) by our society.

The last point is beauty industry capitalizes on fake reviews. There are beauty brands out there, who use this medium for them to gain profit by making fake reviews. The beauty industry has been powered by ambassadors namely celebrities or anyone influential with more than a certain number of followers on their social media, or called influencers. Many beauty brands would hire these well-known people to endorse their products. It has turned into a war of customer reviews. It is told that celebrities or influencers will be given the product beforehand and they would try it on their own to test the effectiveness. That is how reviews are made. Studies show that nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase (Spiegel Research, 2017) and 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review (G2 and Heinz Marketing, 2017). How far is the truth in all of these reviews? A few major online shopping sites have been exposed for review fraud. Edie Maede, the writer for Crossing a minefield of fake beauty product reviews mentioned that in October 2019, the Federal Trade Commission concluded its investigation of Sephora's corporate interference of the cosmetics company Sunday Riley Skincare. The FTC complaint outlined Sunday Riley's direct involvement by the company's CEO according to the New York Times. Riley had directed staff, with different emails and names, to establish three Sephora customer accounts each. They will love corporate goods and hate any adverse reactions to the serums and oils of Sunday in Riley. Beauty brands may introduce any type of product and make claims about it but at the end of the day, the customer will be the guinea pig in proving whether their claims are true or false.

On the contrary, it is undeniably true that the beauty industry relies on customers reviews the most compared to another sector. As a consumer, we should be more aware in trusting the reviews that we read online. Many free online tools can let you know the level of trustworthiness of a particular review. To name a few, Fakespot and Influenster. Another way to get rid of your worry on a brand is by consulting with experts in-store. You do know how well-known brands have their beauty consultant who knows everything about the brand. You have questions? Ask them away! Choosing rights is in our hands so choose wisely.

In conclusion, the beauty industry does have more ugly truths than joy. It is a part of their plan to hide these facts from the consumers as a way to maintain their loyalty and make sure the profit will continue until God knows when. However, it is important to learn how to love ourselves too. Each one of us was created differently and we will shine brightly in our way. Appreciate our features and treasure them as you would not get any replacement if they are damaged because our body and our face are precious. Even plastic surgery would not do justice to its initial beauty. Bear in mind, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and will always be.


    1. How online reviews influence sales. (n.d.). IMC Spiegel Research Center - The Medill IMC Spiegel Research Center.
    2. McCabe, K. (2018, June 7). Consumer reviews - 2018 B2B sales & marketing report. Learning Hub | G2.
    3. Meade, E. (2020, January 15). Crossing a minefield of fake beauty product reviews. Medium.
    4. Tiggemann, M., & McGill, B. (2004). The role of social comparison in the effect of magazine advertisements on women's mood and body dissatisfaction. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(1), 23-44.
    5. UK: Health & beauty 2019-2024. (2020). GlobalData Report Store.
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Essay on the Ugly Truth about Beauty. (2024, February 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
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