Digital Media & Inclusivity

Am I Pretty?: The Influence of Mainstream Media on Beauty Ideals

Why is a specific, narrow, and stereotypical standard of beauty typically perceived as more valuable, more worthy, and more desirable than others? Commercial and mainstream media play a significant role in carefully crafting societal expectations of beauty standards and ideals. This research project analyzes well-known body-positive advertisements, campaigns, and popular mainstream media to identify trends and embedded messages that reinforce negative and stereotypical beauty ideals. This research takes a critical perspective on the ways in which commercial media can influence the way we view others and ourselves. This research suggests that unrealistic and narrow beauty ideals have been created and maintained through media with the ultimate goal of making a profit from consumers’ insecurities. The overarching contradictions and communicated messages of the analyzed advertisements and literature are reflected and communicated through text and visuals in a digital magazine format entitled “Am I Pretty?”. This project utilizes messages and themes often communicated indirectly by commercial media and flips those messages back to the reader, encouraging deeper critical reflection about media messages of beauty we often passively internalize. “Am I Pretty?” is a critical reflection of beauty ideals embedded in mainstream media that we so blindly value and look up to.
About the Author
Erin Nantais

Erin completed a BA in Multimedia at McMaster University in 2019, where she focused her studies in photography, art, and design. Her interests lie in the ways that media can influence our perceptions and ideas about ourselves and the world around us. As a digital artist and photographer, she aims to use digital platforms to create something new, to tell a story, and to share perspectives.

About the Project

About the Project

This digital publication has something that speaks to everyone. Whether its a certain passage, a photo, or a topic that sparks a connection to a reader's own experiences, my hope is that each person who reads "Am I Pretty?" will gain some sort of insight into their own experiences and influences of mainstream media.

COVID provided some interesting perspectives into this project. It gave me a lot of time to watch Netflix and Disney plus. This meant I had time to re-watch and reflect on the impact of the shows and campaigns that I loved in different stages of my life, and to assess the impact that those media had on my own experiences and understanding of beauty ideals. COVID brought up questions like why do we feel the need to wear makeup even though we have absolutely nowhere to go? Why are we so obsessed with making sure we don’t gain weight in quarantine? These questions greatly impacted the direction of my research and the artistic direction of my digital magazine.