Supermodel citizens: A look into US beauty standards

November 16, 2018


The United States is a melting pot of different cultures, which is why it seems like the US doesn’t have a culture of its own.



However, the US does have an influence on pop culture and the culture of being “perfect.” Look anywhere and there are articles about tanning, teeth whitening/straightening, getting plastic surgery and going to the gym to sculpt a perfect body. If there aren’t articles about these topics, there are celebrities who advertise these things by having plastic surgery or braces.



Tanning, for example, is quite prevalent in the US. Tanning to get glowing orange skin is an aspiration for 35 percent of adults, even if, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, indoor tanning increases one’s chance of skin cancer by 59 percent.       


“I used a tanning foam because I had senior pictures and homecoming coming up and I really just wanted to look tan. I associate being tan with being prettier. I didn't always do this, only starting during prom of last year, but I liked the results and continued applying it,” senior Lauryn Groves said.


A gorgeous tan is complemented by a set of bright white, perfectly straight teeth. These are another staple of American culture. According to ValuePenguin, the average set of braces costs between $5000 and $6000 and according to What’s Cooking America, Americans spend $1.4 billion annually on over-the-counter teeth whitening products. 


“I think as a society we are all wanting to look our best. Most of our famous movie personalities have straight white teeth and we see patients trying to emulate what they're seeing in media. Straight, white teeth help to boost people's confidence,” orthodontist J. Lawrence Hutta of Hutta and Cook Orthodontics said. 


However, having a perfect set of pearly whites is unusual in comparison to most countries around the world.


For example, British people stereotypically have less perfect teeth when compared to Americans, but according to BBC, free orthodontics are provided by the National Health Service to those who are deemed to need them. 


The UK isn’t the only area of the world where gap-free teeth aren’t standard. In Ghana, Nigeria and Namibia, having a midline diastema (a gap between one’s two front teeth), as Michael Strahan and Eddie Murphy do, is perceived as a sign of beauty and intelligence. In some tribes in these countries, a midline diastema is created rather than closed with braces.


Tanning and teeth whitening/straightening are minor forms of body modifications that help one meet America’s idealized standard for how a person’s body should look. If a person can’t or isn’t willing to get the idealized body by working out or dieting, he or she may turn to a more extreme form of body modification: plastic surgery.


Whether a person goes under the knife for a rhinoplasty, a breast lift or a liposuction, the fact remains that he or she must be completely committed to creating the “perfect” body.


“I believe people get plastic surgery to help improve their areas of concern. People want to feel good about themselves and being comfortable with one’s appearance can be a part of that. It is upsetting that our culture is so focused on an ideal image, why is why I like to stress to my patients that I am simply enhancing their natural characteristics,” Michael Sullivan, plastic surgeon at The Sullivan Centre, said. 

Please reload


Print Editions

Online Editions

Please reload


Please reload

Orange Media publications are official student-produced mediums of news and information published by the Journalism students of Olentangy Orange High School. The publications have been established as a designated public forum for student journalists to inform, educate and entertain readers as well as for the discussion of issues of concern to their audience. They  will not be reviewed or restrained by school officials, adults or sources prior to publication.

The content of the publications is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself. They will not publish any material, determined by the staff or adviser, that is libelous, obscene or disruptive to the school day.

The advisers are Kari Phillips and Brian Nicola. Readers may respond to the publications through Letters to the Editor. Letters may be mailed, e-mailed to or dropped off to room 2223. The staff asks that submissions be 300 words or less and contain the author’s name and signature. Editors reserve the right to edit or withhold publication of letters.

The publications strive to uphold the Canons of Professional Journalism, which includes accuracy, impartiality, etc. Therefore, major errors will be corrected in the next issue. Distinction will be marked between news and opinion stories.

This site was designed with the
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now