Beauty vs. Brains

The media seems to feed today’s hungry society with the same old teaspoon: pressure towards an ideal body image. “Be a Diet Success!” and “You Think That’s Sexy?” are among the headlines found today in popular women’s magazines. Is it possible for women to defend a title of intellectual excellence and beauty in a world where one overtakes the other?

“Absolutely 100%,” said Junior Katherine Ogies, a Chemistry and Physical Science major at St. John’s. “Women are succeeding more in the new generation compared to before.”

Reaching that success comes by effectively balancing the heavy-weight contenders – brains and beauty. Concerns with one’s exterior can be found in various aspects of daily life and the numbers prove it. An article in Mediaweek stated that there has been an increase in advertising for beauty products in women’s magazines, suggesting an increase in the purchasing power.

According to the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, exposure to magazine advertisements and television programs has been found to correlate with eating disorder symptomatology in women.

“It’s a larger phenomenon.” stated Dr. Jodi E. Ganz, a dermatologist in Atlanta, in The New York Times. “Society’s increasingly intense pursuit of physical perfection. . . now that everything from lasers to plastic surgery is so available, we as a society are becoming less tolerant to imperfection.”

The pursuit of knowledge and intelligence has fighting power as well, especially for women. Figures released by the U.S Department of Education show that completion rates for full-time college students are higher for women than men, especially at private nonprofit colleges. Studies show that women outnumber men on campus by 2 million.

Therefore, women have made great progress in education and the job market, pursuing opportunities their mothers and grandmothers never had.

Contrary to popular belief, there are examples out there that stack up in the IQ department along with looks. Natalie Portman graduated from Harvard with a degree in psychology before becoming a leading actress. “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow graduated Vassar College with a degree in Biology. UCLA honors graduate Gabrielle Union took on sociology before landing her big-screen roles.

The possibilities are endless to the ones willing to achieve the best of both worlds. The key lies in the balance between the two even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with labeling educational advances as top priority.

“Certainly the general media image is made to objectivity,” said sophomore Matthew Knotts, a philosophy major. “It is possible to be both smart and attractive or neither, but most women possess both.”

Regardless of the trends, overcoming society’s ideal image requires personal motivation to continue to work hard. Essentially, bettering oneself starting from the inside out and staying healthy is the best goal. That, in and of itself, is beautiful.