Societal Perceptions of Beauty in "The Beauty Treatment"

Categories: Meaning

Modern society finds itself entangled in an incessant obsession with physical appearance and material possessions, a preoccupation that often spirals out of control. The media bombards our minds with unrealistic standards of beauty, leading us to define our lives by the accumulation of possessions and the pursuit of an idealized image. "The Beauty Treatment" by Stacy Richter serves as a compelling exploration of teenage violence, laying bare the societal pressures that mold perceptions of beauty and acceptance.

The Narrator's Voices: A Complex Journey through Violence, Empathy, and Forgiveness

Within the narrative, teenage girls engage in violent acts that mirror the familiar rivalries of any high school setting.

Richter, with her adept storytelling, navigates the story's twists and turns, revealing layers of empathy and forgiveness beneath the surface. The narrators' voices, intense and over-the-top, draw the reader into the complexities of their friendships and conflicts. Despite the seemingly fantastical nature of the initial events, Richter succeeds in making them believable within the story's context.

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The central conflict arises when the narrator's best friend is physically harmed merely for expressing admiration for a musician. Richter skillfully delves into the psyche of the characters, unraveling their personalities throughout the narrative. The honesty of the narrators, both about those within their social circles and themselves, adds depth to the story. The materialistic tendencies of the narrator from "The Beauty Treatment" are laid bare, exposing an obsession with clothes and a yearning for a life beyond her current reality.

As the story unfolds, Richter peels back the layers of the narrator's persona, revealing her desire for a life more extraordinary than her own.

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The narrator's interactions with the Neo-Beats showcase her longing to be mysterious and the center of attention. Despite her materialistic inclinations, Richter provides insight into the narrator's internal struggle, challenging societal norms and the expectations imposed on her.

The Societal Influence on Perceptions of Beauty

Society, through various mediums like parents, magazines, and television, shapes our understanding of beauty from a young age. The story highlights the societal indoctrination that dictates norms for both boys and girls, linking beauty to material possessions and physical appearance. The youth are compelled to conform to specific standards, fostering an environment where clothes, appearance, and societal acceptance take precedence.

As the narrator grapples with her scar, she resorts to fabricating elaborate stories to present herself as the epitome of perfection. This mirrors the societal inclination to alter one's appearance for acceptance. The story's portrayal of the narrator's attempts to fit into different social circles underscores the pervasive influence of societal expectations. The scar becomes a metaphor for the societal pressures individuals face to conform to preconceived notions of beauty.

In the pursuit of societal acceptance, individuals often find themselves altering their authentic selves. The narrator's elaborate tales echo the way society compels us to create illusions of perfection, even if it means distorting our true selves. The discrepancy between the narrator's various social circles sheds light on the performative nature of societal beauty standards.

When we can no longer afford the expensive clothes, we wear knockoffs that will make others think we are wearing the real thing. We get expensive cars, and houses that we really can’t afford, just to keep up with the Jones’s. We live in a society where image is everything. Beauty is not defined by one's age, gender, color, body shape, size, clothes, car, or where you live. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”; beauty comes from within. So what is beautiful in your eyes? It is a reflection of what’s on the inside of us all. “Physical beauty only hides a cold heart and a flawed character. A lot of times really beautiful people are treated like they are special until others find out they think they are better than them, and then they are ugly".

Physical beauty fades with time, but having confidence in yourself with a loving heart and a generous nature will last a lifetime. Everything God creates is beautiful and we are one of his many creations. Beauty is being comfortable with who you are, and just being yourself. It’s not trying to obtain what other people have, or become something we are not. We should not define our lives by how much stuff we have. Confidence makes one beautiful from the inside out and that is all that matters in the end.

Beauty Beyond the Surface: Embracing Confidence and Authenticity

As the story unfolds, the narrator's journey prompts reflection on the essence of beauty. It challenges the societal narrative that defines beauty solely by external attributes, emphasizing the need to look beyond superficial standards. The narrator's evolution, from concealing her scar to embracing it, becomes a metaphor for the transformative power of self-acceptance.

The societal pressure to conform to conventional beauty standards often leads individuals to pursue an idealized image. Richter's narrative encourages a shift in perspective, advocating for confidence and authenticity as the true markers of beauty. The scar, initially a source of insecurity, becomes a symbol of the narrator's journey towards self-acceptance and a rejection of societal norms.

In conclusion, "The Beauty Treatment" serves as a poignant exploration of societal perceptions of beauty, teenage violence, and the journey towards self-acceptance. Richter's nuanced storytelling unveils the complexities of the characters, inviting readers to question the societal standards that shape our understanding of beauty. The narrative prompts reflection on the transformative power of embracing one's authentic self, challenging the notion that beauty is confined to external appearances. In a world that often dictates our worth based on physical attributes, the story encourages a reevaluation of what truly makes an individual beautiful: confidence, authenticity, and a loving heart.

Updated: Dec 15, 2023
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Societal Perceptions of Beauty in "The Beauty Treatment". (2017, Feb 18). Retrieved from

Societal Perceptions of Beauty in "The Beauty Treatment" essay
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