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The Perfect Female Face


The term "body image" refers to both one's mental picture of one's looks and the emotions that accompany it. Many studies have looked at the connection between body image and overall self-esteem, and most have shown that women are less satisfied with their bodies than males. Anxieties start in childhood and last throughout maturity. Many academics link these issues to exaggerated female beauty representations in the mass media.


The face that launched a thousand ships is a phrase used to describe the unsurpassed beauty of Helen of Troy. Because Helen was a fictional character, it is impossible to know what she looked like. The Iliad and Odyssey do describe her as “white-armed,” “long-dressed,” and “lovely-haired, but none of these epithets are particularly descriptive. Thus, her beauty is left to the imagination.

Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy

It is not in ancient epic poetry that one may find the perfect female face anymore; instead, it is in the hands of contemporary cosmetic surgeons.

Female celebrities today, (who set the beauty standards for the rest of us), have had a slew of cosmetic procedures on their faces, to make themselves look either prettier or younger.

When they undergo surgery, the procedures that take place are a mutilation of the flesh.

It is really not so surprising, then, that as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, these repeated mutilations have resulted in facial countenances that no longer look human.

Female faces that have been grossly distorted are now appearing on our movie and television screens on a daily basis. Our attention is immediately drawn to their features by the frightening, confused disarray of engorged lips; upturned eyes; shiny, high, ping-pong ball cheeks; jutting or pointed chins; pencil-thin noses with slit nostrils; and hardened (yet friable) plaster skin.

The eyeballs are the only fully human facial attribute remaining, but even these look oddly out of place, gazing back at us as black, gaping wounds.

Women who were once beautiful are now freakish, and it is disturbing and difficult to witness.

Nicole Kidman (before and after)

Nicole Kidman (before and after)

Meg Ryan (before and after)

Meg Ryan (before and after)

Lindsay Lohan (before and after)

Lindsay Lohan (before and after)

Female celebrities seem to have hit a new all-time low in the name of beauty, since the surgical outcomes shown above are not mistakes, but rather the kinds of procedures that women who are already beautiful and appealing deliberately plan and choose to do to themselves.

It is not wise to emulate them.


Theorists would argue that self-inflicted deformities are a manifestation of a deeper psychological trauma instilled in all women, famous or not, by a society that teaches them that they cannot be attractive unless they alter their natural body.

Almost all women participate in self-objectification, which expresses itself in the form of a persistent and chronic concern with self-surveillance, as shown by women's proclivity to gaze in mirrors.

There is evidence to support the notion that continuous body monitoring causes a division between the individual/personal/thinking-self and the self-as-object.

A connection between self-surveillance, body shame, and negative psychological repercussions for women and girls develops into a generalized sense of self-loathing in the female population.

After incessantly looking in mirrors, women feel driven to correct what they perceive as flaws in specific areas of their faces, such as their eyes, nose, lips, chin, and cheeks.

This self-loathing paves the way for self-destructive behavior, forcing them to submit their face to what would seem to be torture under any other circumstance, such as going under the knife.


In the hands of a cosmetic surgeon, the human face becomes veritable art material; that is, a lump of clay to be molded into an illusory mask, validating any woman's preexisting self-objectification and resulting self-loathing, as she, herself, gradually turns into an object.

A vicious cycle develops in the midst of rapidly changing trends ("I guess I am now pretty," "I guess I am now not pretty") and a total collapse of reality is just a matter of time.


Mary Crawford. 2006. Transformations: Women, Gender, and Psychology, 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill, NY.

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