"Men are barraged with images of extraordinarily beautiful and unobtainable women in the media, making it difficult for them to desire the ordinarily beautiful."
~ Michael Levine, Why I Hate Beauty

Why would this be so? Because of how the contrast effect influences our perception of beauty. To explain, suppose I see a super beautiful woman. A short time later I see a woman of average beauty. Because I saw the super beauty first, I would likely rate the average beauty as less beautiful than if I saw the average beauty first. The contrast created by seeing the super beauty first influences my perception, making me judge the average beauty (seen second) as less beautiful than I normally would.

So if I am "barraged" with super beauties all the time, that exposure is effectively forcing me to see the super beauty first, creating a contrast. So when I later encounter real women of average beauty, I'll judged them as less beautiful than I would without the exposure to the super beauties.

But this strikes me as an excuse for mediocrity. Are we suppose to avoid or ignore the super beauties? If not, what is the alternative?

Beauty exists in many forms. What we do, or Madison Avenue does, is highlight a narrow spectrum of a woman's beauty. It shifts over generations, but I believe it's still narrow. That's the danger, the homogeneity...I think there's pun there.

But beauty is a spectrum, like the rainbow. Each color has it's own beauy, and we each have our own favorites.

So maybe the contrast effect has more to do with narrowly defining what is beautiful in women. Perhaps the solution is to broadening that definition, not avoiding or ignoring super beauty, but celebrating the wide spectrum of what makes a woman beautiful. For a start, take a look at the Dove ad campaign.

So I lied; I don't hate beauty. I celebrate beauty in all forms, and varieties.

What I hate is Madison Avenue's narrow and unrealistic definition of what a beautiful woman looks like.

Why I Hate Beauty by Michael Levine in Psychology Today

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