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Does society place unrealistic views and pressure on women looks? Are other races underrepresented?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/5/2015 Category: Fashion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,068 times Debate No: 78411
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




I hope I didn't choose the wrong side but society does in fact place women in an unrealistic beauty standard. One that cannot easily be accomplished by normal or healthy means. The standard of beauty for America (the country I mostly can speak for) is usually one of lightened skin and thin body. Most of which models are dangerorusly thin to begin with or are put on a strict diet. Not only that, but nearly every publicized photo is tampered in some way such as through photoshop. Removing blemishes, making thinner the people, or lighting the skin tone of PoC.

Women who are strong, muscular or "built like a man" are hardly ever represented in any type of fashion as a beautiful thing except on rare occassions such as sports illustrated. Even then, they are often white, young women or women who are barely, just slightly muscular to begin with? And often, women shown in sports illustrated are there only for the male gaze. If you were to look up sports illustrated on google, multitudes of pictures of women dressed in provacative posing and skimpy wear are present. Even on the sight links. What does any of that have to do with sports? Worse is the fact that many have the same feature. Young, light skinned and white.


I'm taking the opposite position here.

Starting off, beauty standards exist for a reason. Not every one is -or can be- beautiful. It is a unfair, unpleasant truth, but it is a truth. Muscular women, fat women, these are not as attractive to men [the beauty standard setters] as thin women, or women with "hour glass proportions". Attraction and desire are not negotiable. The part of my brain that regulates attraction does not understand concepts of fairness. If I am attracted to thin, lighter skinned women and I see a magazine with an obese or muscular darker skinned woman, I will be less inclined to purchase it. The magazines are not the cause of the expectations, the expectations are the cause of the magazines.

Magazines such as Sports Illustrated and others that feature attractive women in skimpy clothing on the front covers typically do this to increase their appeal to the male demographic, featuring body types that are conventionally most attractive to them. []

Even ones that do market to women specifically (Such as Women's health magazine) use this tactic to increase appeal to men and increase sales. Dealing with other's insecurities is not their problem. The cosmetics industry and other industries know that human beings work this way. They all prey on certain characteristics of human behaviour in order to formulate sales methods. This is a fact, and it is the only way business works. It is not evil.

No one expects every woman to look like a swimsuit model similar to how no one expects every man to look like Schwarzenegger. They represent the ideal body and beauty standard. You said that this is something that cannot be accomplished by "normal or healthy means". I disagree with this. The phrase "unrealistic expectations" has always been one of the playing cards used by people to justify entitlement and complacency. Female models typically have an average bmi between 17-19 ( which is right on the border of underweight and ideal. Those models live the way they do because they want to be models. They eat little, exercise, live a life that leads to that, and in doing so become the epitome of beauty standards. This is their own choice, similar to how other women have their own choice as well. They can choose not to adhere to society's beauty standard, but then they do not reserve the right to complain when people don't find them attractive. As Teddy Roosevelt said "Complaining about a problem while not proposing a solution is called whining", and as mentioned before, since the beauty standards themselves are unchangeable, there is no solution except to conform to them.

As for the lighter skin bias, studies have shown that men prefer lighter skin, while women prefer darker skin. ( There are other reasons as well. The top 3 cities for fashion and where most models flock to for their careers are considered to be London, New York, Barcelona.
Let us compare the white to black (I am excluding Latino people in darker skin similar to how I exclude Chinese, Korean etc for light) population for these

1) 60 % White to 18.8 % Black (
2)44.6% White to 25 % Black (
3)Didn't find anything for Barcelona but as google comes up with "Top eight worse places for black people" I'm guessing they are a major minority.
So as you can see, the fashion and modeling industry shortage of darker skinned women reflects the countries ratio itself.

Then there is also this

As you can see, in every state of the US black poverty is almost always double or triple of the white.
So it's not that the fashion and modeling industries thinks that only light skinned people are beautiful, as many have assumed. It assumes that lighter skinned people have more money. They are not setting the standard as "Lighter skinned women are more beautiful", there are marketing their goods to a demographic that has more to spend on their products.
Debate Round No. 1



Your argument is so on point that I cannot retalihate against it. You are correct. I myself don't care about beauty neccessarily but I felt that it should be touched upon. But in the end, this isn't something that can really be debated. Weather or not someone decides to confirm to the beauty standards set it up to them and the whole purpose is to appeal to a marketed base in the first place. Many arguments you make is clear and very much true however there are some points I disagree or ae confused on:

Beauty standards themselves are unchangeable. (to show how the beauty standard has indeed changed)

Beauty standards are chagable as the people who set them can make the change. They just refuse not too. So if they wanted they can change it where big women are seemingly more attractive than skinny women. But it does come down on what the majority of men (their main target) finds attractive to sell. Unless you mean that the beauty standard is not going to change because the people who set them refuse to change them as I stated. I'm not sure. Same goes for women. Most prefer tall, muscualr men so vice versa.

They can choose not to adhere to society's beauty standard, but then they do not reserve the right to complain when people don't find them attractive.

Are you saying that women who do not adhere to beauty standard literally, do not have the right to complain when people find them unattractive? Agreed is that everyone has their own diffrent tastes but do you mean exactly by that? If society is placing a beauty standard for women, that beauty standard is also influental on people's opinions on how they see beauty, so do they not have a right to complain when majority of society has conditioned the minds of men and women too to see a specifc thing as beautiful? You'll be surprised as too how powerful the media is in influencing the minds of people. Of course, the decision on weather or not anyone wants to accept the beauty standard is up to them. The statement is a bit confusing. Especially since it seems like women don't have the right to complain when society is calling all women unattractive except for the very beauty standard they set. And besides, who are they to tell me that someone is unattractive unless they confirm to their standard? In the end, its the person who lay eyes on them that decides on weather or not someone is unattractive.

"Complaining about a problem while not proposing a solution is called whining

This is something that is very true. Nice one. But what is the most women can do to change the beauty standrad? Of course the solution is to get the beauty setters to hire and potray diffrent figures, shapes and shades but doing so requires forcing them to do this through rejecting the set beauty standard fully but this is unlikly to happen considering that there will still be a vast majority of women who are more than ready to accept the standard.

Female models typically have an average bmi between 17-19 ( which is right on the border of underweight and ideal

The very BMI of being just on the border such as neutral should be considered unhealhy. A person should be in the ideal BMI as to not risk the effects of being underweight in the first place. Being placed on the border allows that to be so and one must argue is there really such thing as border weight on that scale that deals with health. Their not unhealthy but their not healthy either. So what are they exactly? Normal? I thought that was being healthy. Also, unrealistic beauty standards is still very much true. To expect women to meet the beauty standard they have set up of skinny and thin is something that most women can't meet. Either because they are "too curvy, too muscualr, too short, too big, or too masculine in feature." Those that do become a model, at what cost did they have to pay to do so? Eating less is often taken to extremes by models such as skipping meals. Don't forget the "size zero and thigh gap." Once again many women don't meet this standarad and a select few do. There's a reason why its called "unrealistic beauty standards." not because its not possible (how it deals with entitlement I don't know) but for the fact that its difficult to meet such a standard in reality with a clearing.



Glad to see you liked my argument. And you're right, this issue is hard to debate as it goes both ways depending on whether you look at it rationally or emotionally.

I'm afraid I don't understand the context of your first 3 links. I can't access youtube easily in my country so I'll address the other two. The "21 country photographers" one clearly shows my point. All of the photographers lightened the skin, and made some changes to facial aesthetics but none of them made the woman's face chubby or "like a man". The difference in editing reflects each of the photographer's personal preference. I might have a preference for green eyes while my friend might like grey ones. It does nothing to disprove that men like thinner, more "feminine" women. Some men do like "bigger" women, but if a man had a choice between let's say, Jessica Alba and Melissa Mcarthy, I know which way I'd be cashing my chips in and on some level you probably do too. In the second link there is only one point worth addressing: that fat women were considered attractive in the past. The article also answers this query. They were considered attractive because food was scarce, being fat was a sign of immense wealth. Today, when food is freely available (atleast in First world and second world countries) this is seen as a sign of gluttony and laziness. The standard of beauty did not change, the socio economic landscape cause the preference for white, fat women.

You were confused by the "women who don't adhere to the standard" point. I'll sort of address it this way (since you're female): Women like tall, muscular men with darker skin. This is because women are biologically hardwired to seek security and all these traits exhibit toughness and masculinity. It isn't fair since two of these things are mostly not upto your control, but this is the standard for males, the ideal that females seek (according to biology). Now, a fat man is not very attractive to a woman for this reason, but he can choose to adhere to society's male standards by working out and keeping fit. If he doesn't, then he severely limits his choices of potential mates.

Same it is with women. Men are hardwired to seek fertility. This translates to a woman with wide hips, big breasts and clear, healthy appearance. Society has not set the standard for beauty- nature has. Society and the media merely reflects nature. They are not conditioning our minds to see something as beautiful- we already consider it beautiful, always have and always will. This is why I said earlier that these are unchangeable, because nature itself is unchangeable.

You also say how society does not have the right to judge who is attractive or not. Again, I disagree with this. It's starting to sound very redundant at this point but again : biology, not society. There is no choice. It is wrong to discriminate based on attractiveness : a beautiful woman should not get a job over a homely one on virtue of her beauty, but it is not inherently wrong to consider a person unattractive.

As for the models point, I did check out the link. Models do push themselves to the very border of unhealthy, but they do not cross over. Being unhealthy by a BMI of 1 digit does not translate into unhealthy. They have chosen this lifestyle, so the toughness of skipping meals is their own personal choice (I don't really think skipping meals is tough).

Also, being an attractive body shape is something that is achievable by any woman. Every trait that makes a woman attractive is under their control, except for facial aethetics, skin colour and height (which does not matter much as studies show that men prefer shorter women while most models are quite tall). Being fat is not genetic, neither is being muscular.
It is a hard standard, but not an unrealistic one to expect.
Debate Round No. 2


If men are hard wired to seek fertility and that translates to wide hips, big breasts, and a clear healthy appearance, than we as a society is not fitting that standard, or natures standard at all. As its clear to see in magazines like Sports Illustrated and others like vogue how unbelievably thin and small the women are. Also, men and women alike are in control of what they consider attractive or what they don't. One may find a skinny men or women attractive and another may not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A fact of truth that sums up majority of this debate as I now see but for sake
of argument shall continue.

First, Biology doesn't consider what a man or woman finds attractive. It has never been proven that its in our DNA or genetics that we prefer a certain type over the rest. Most studies of such things gives nothing more but an estimated guess on what men or women prefer. Majority opinion does not speak for all. It only gives us insight on what most or in general people will like as a lot of things are also based on environment. Humans are not as easy to base off and study as animals. Most people anyway base what they like and don't often on what seems appealing to the eye. If it is biology based than how come it doesn't serve the basis for all cultures and societies? Why is the beauty standard so vastly different from country to country?

The skipping meals thing:

Being on the very border of what is considered healthy and not healthy in itself is extreme in its way. We are talking about a single point. If its not healthy nor unhealthy than what is it than? Usually whats healthy is considered normal. Not in between or not. A BMI on the border is really pushing the limit. Of course, the choice of skipping meals is their own choice but if this is something that has to be done to meet mankinds beauty standard or as you say natures beauty standard, than something really wrong considering how unhealthy it clearly is.

They were considered attractive because food was scarce, being fat was a sign of immense wealth.
Today, when food is freely available (at least in First world and second world countries) this is seen as a sign of gluttony and laziness. The standard of beauty did not change, the social economic landscape cause the preference for white, fat women.

The beauty standard did change. Due to the fact that they were a sign of immense wealth even to the Greeks and Italian Renaissance it terms of beauty it wouldn't just be an economic thing but it would play a part in setting the beauty standard. It still lies in the fact that it was considered attractive (in beauty definition) and therefore it was set as the beauty standard.


I'm out of country and I dont have wifi here, writing a little through mobile internet but it's hard to type on mobile so I will keep this extremely short

Biology does determine what someone finds attractive

It is definitely not an estimated guess. You could say nothing in science is certain but this isn't a theory, it's been proven in numerous experiments and surveys

You say how majority opinion only tells us what most people like. That is the point of a beauty standard.
You also say that the beauty standard is different in different countries. Burden of proof is on you and you don't have a source for this so I don't have to refute it (don't like taking the cheap routes in arguements but I have hard time looking up sources on mobile) but like I said different cultures have different preferences but the overall "ideal" is the same.

Models are either unhealthy or healthy, when I said 18-19 it was an average, not individual models. Most individual models were right on the border. They choose to be this weight

It is also not nature's beauty standard. Men's ideal woman is a 20.5 BMI, which is very healthy

As for the last point, if I marry a woman based on her perceived wealth, that doesn't mean I think she's beautiful. People married fat women because being fat indicated that you were a woman of means. They didn't marry because they thought that fat was attractive.

Thank you for the debate I enjoyed it :) good luck
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
>Reported vote: Jenima// Mod action: NOT Removed<

6 points to Pro (Conduct, Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision:

[*Reason for non-removal*] The debate does not require an RFD. As this voter has chosen not to give one, their lack of RFD is not subject to moderation.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Jenima 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:60