Article: “Be Realistic! How Technology Affects Your Perception of Beauty”, By Dr. Robert Tornambe

This is working towards objective 1.

“How can women, young or not, aspire to look like modern-day role models when the role models themselves don’t even look like their photos?”

Whilst researching the surrounding contexts of the recent technological developments within the Beauty industry and how this can in turn effect our self-perception, I came across the article shown below on, written by Dr. Robert Tornambe, whom is a “New York City plastic surgeon, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.) and diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (board certified). Dr. Tornambe has lectured in the United States and Europe and is considered an expert in cosmetic facial and breast surgery. He was listed in New York Magazine’s “The Best Doctors in New York.” Dr. Tornambe has appeared on Dateline, NBC’s Today and The Charlie Rose Show, and he was the only New York City–based plastic surgeon to appear on the ABC series Extreme Makeover. His latest book is The Beauty Quotient Formula (Hay House)” and was struck by the question he posed mid-article, which I have noted at the top of this post for reference also.

This question posed, brought to life the idea that technology does change how we see ourselves, and also other people, especially with individuals whom go to extreme lengths to fulfil their ‘ideal’ vision of themselves based on those they follow, admire and look up to whether this be through cosmetic surgery or photo-editing platforms/tools. In turn, this made me think about my own research question and how the idea of ‘role modes’ relates to self-perception and body image issues in this particular context of beauty, surrounding the new phenomenon of brands using celebrities, bloggers and vloggers as marketing and communications tools. For example, the Rimmel “Get the Look App” (noted in a previous post – ‘Recent Technological Advances and Developments within the Beauty Industry’) which allows the user to take a photo of themselves and apply pre-set makeup looks inspired by their models and campaigns. Kate Moss in this instance is used as the main anchor for the campaign, enticing app downloads through the promise of quite literally getting her look – however, the photo of Kate Moss itself is edited – a prime example of the posed question.


Rimmel Get The Look App
Image Source

We currently live in a society whereby access to celebrity information and photographs for example is instant via digital platforms. We know every beauty product they use thanks to hashtags and brand endorsements, allowing followers to engage with small, but key parts of their lifestyles, replicating it hoping to achieve the same results. Furthermore, along with the Instagram streams for example, recent advanced technologies and releases of ‘beautifying’ apps also now allow this change to happen instantaneously if desired. As Dr. Tornambe notes that “the touch-up technician has become an essential part of every photo project” hinting at the idea that whether we ‘edit’ ourselves through permanent changes or not, many people feel the need to look perfect and flawless to be perceived a certain way and will use one or more mediums to do so.

I found the article below particularly interesting in the sense that these “stars” were almost unreachable in a sense that at one point in time, they would only be featured in high-end fashion magazines such as Vogue, and on billboard campaigns. However at present day, as discussed in my ‘Initial Thoughts on Social Media and Publications’ post, these platforms are becoming much more interlinked and allow for the end-user to contribute their own photographs and instantly engage with content and the surrounding online communities on a personal level. Furthermore, by using various digital and print based outlets to showcase brand campaigns, collections, sponsorships and products for example, more people are being targeted, and more people are contributing therefore as a whole resulting in a constant stream of faces, selfies, outfits and lifestyles being showcased inadvertently on our smartphones influencing changes in body image and self-perception overtime.

“The digital age has brought with it wonderful advantages in all aspects of people’s lives, but it has also created certain unexpected troubles—one of which is a detrimental change in society’s perception of beauty.”

Full Article:
I have highlighted key points which I believe will help in the understanding and unpicking of my research question, whilst there also being several points of which back up points I have already mentioned in this post, or in previous posts prior to finding and reading this article.
“Years ago, actresses were glamorous, larger-than-life movie icons and role models that women looked up to and wanted to be like. But, now that you can follow celebrities on Twitter, read about their makeups and breakups on their blogs and in the tabloids, movie stars are becoming more like…you. Find out how technology has influenced your perception of how you look at yourself and modern-day Hollywood.

The digital age has brought with it wonderful advantages in all aspects of people’s lives, but it has also created certain unexpected troubles—one of which is a detrimental change in society’s perception of beauty.

Prior to computers, magazines and cinema were the sole outlets influencing your perception of beauty. Movie icons—larger than life—were admired on the silver screen, and their more notable adventures were followed in magazines. Carefully orchestrated photo shoots with perfect lighting, makeup and hair styling enhanced the stars’ already beautiful faces. These stars were idolized for their beauty and style. And the general public placed the lucky, well-known celebrities on pedestals, crowning them as royalty. They were role models—adored, but not copied, because it was understood that they lived a life far different from the average person. Stars were admired…from afar.

Fast-forward to the present, ever-changing computer age where you are bombarded by images of all forms and gossip about those celebrities who used to be so glamorized—so distant and different than you. Their lives are chronicled on a daily basis thanks to Twitter, blogs, online magazines and other easily attainable media, creating an almost intimate relationship between the public and the stars. And this change in society’s relationship has changed its view of beauty. Since these celebrities are now on your level, doesn’t that also mean you can be more like them?

The bar for women has been set unrealistically high by the role models people have today. The deck has been stacked against the modern woman. It was bad enough women used to see 17-year-old fashion models wearing $25,000 haute couture gowns in women’s magazines. Now, thanks to Photoshop and other photo-editing software, photos may be manipulated to make their subjects look thinner or heavier, taller or shorter, bustier or flatter chested. Wrinkles can be magically erased and prized features, such as pronounced cheekbones, can be enhanced. The touch-up technician has become an essential part of every photo project.

So the inevitable question arises: How can women, young or not, aspire to look like modern-day role models when the role models themselves don’t even look like their photos?

The answer should be evident, but with people’s new relationship to the stars and new beauty technologies like Botox, facial fillers and cosmetic surgery, this goal seems to be practically doable. But self-esteem can plummet when women compare themselves to these unrealistic iconic images. They are chasing an illusion and place themselves in a no-win situation.

Take Heidi Montag as an example. Recently, this very pretty 23-year-old, up-and-coming actress underwent 10 different surgical procedures so she could look “more glamorous” and hopefully stand out in the highly competitive Hollywood arena. She stands out now, but for all the wrong reasons! So, how does an intelligent, attractive woman in today’s society adjust to all these unrealistic messages around her?

First, women must stop this star worship and gain back a bit of separation between the woman on the screen and the woman in the mirror. Realize that what you see in the media is not reality. These faces should not be the faces you aspire to have. Choose realistic role models for various stages of life. And remember that as wonderful as plastic surgery is, if you are 60 years old, you are never going to look like Heidi Klum. Look for women who are beautiful and vivacious, yet who are aging gracefully, like Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep—or your boss or neighbor. Use these as your role models, and your life will become much simpler and your goals more attainable.

Also, women need to discard their one-dimensional definition of beauty. Beauty does not lie in physical features alone. It’s about the whole package: physical beauty, mental strength, warm personality and personal presentation. So stop looking in the mirror and seeing the glass as half empty. Instead of looking for flaws, embrace your positive characteristics and figure out ways to enhance them. Stop wishing for someone else’s nose or hair and fall in love with your own. A face can be structurally imperfect but still beautiful. Intangibles make a woman beautiful, and you must recognize those wonderful quirks that you possess and be proud of them. Develop a beauty arsenal consisting of clothing that fits well and enhances your attributes. Create a solid hair-and-makeup routine, and exercise to stay healthy and build your confidence. Confidence is the real secret here! A confident woman is a beautiful woman. Learn how to feel great on the inside as well as the outside.”

Dr Robert Tornabe (2010) Your Perception of Beauty in the Digital Age, Last Accessed: 11th Oct 2017