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Theoretical Perspective

Discuss About The Cultural Influences Changing Perceptions.

Sociologist defines the beauty as a universal part of human experience. Etcoff (2000) stated beauty incites pleasure, rivets attention and impels actions that which guarantees the survival of the species. It can be stated that beauty can be described as a currency in every society. In most cultures, smooth skin, thick hair and a symmetrical body are valued (Hunter, 2002; De Casanova, 2004).  

Beauty is defined in different terms in various cultures. For example, in countries located in the East, the people perceive beauty in terms of the physical features of an individual. However, in Western countries beauty is perceived in both physical appearances as well as the characteristics that the people have. The significant phrase beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder upholds a significant position in the human world and the nature and perception of the beauty is defined by the manner in which people specify the beauty.  A specific type of appearance can be considered as beauty for a specific ethnic group, whereas, suitability may not exist in other cultures. Hence, the norms related to beauty can be vary in a specific country as they possess various ethnic groups and communities. When referring to Sri Lanka, an island located in South Asia, three ethnic groups such as Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims are discussed. The ethnic group promotes the beauty standards based on cultural, social and religious concepts.  Sinhalese aspects towards beauty can be considered as a woman with small, white teeth, black eyes, shiny and healthy skin, long black hair, round face and thin fingers. In tamil perspective, female is beautiful when features such as fair skin, long hair, sharp bright black eyes with long eye lashes, oval face, healthy and curved body. A Muslim girl will be considered beautiful when she has medium height, round face, long and thin fingers, long eyebrows, pointed nose, long hair, fair skin , blue eyes and narrow hip (Palaniyandy, 2010). People residing in Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims have some common perspective towards shine and healthy skins. Robinson & Ward (1995) explained that beauty is a physical from which grants social acceptance and personal satisfaction, obviously in most cultures, personal beauty is the most dominant quality of a woman can possess. Beauty can be considered as a universal language that defines the social status of a people. Without proper beauty, it can be difficult for every males as well as females to continue residing in a society with respect. Despite the various perceptions of beauty the outer appearance of the people is one of the most important aspect that draws the attention of the people.  The desire to be fair- skinned is mostly evident among Sri Lankan females as the fair skinned actors and actresses, artistes, models and other characters are highlighted in the fashion and glam scenes.

Research Methodology

When referring to the Sri Lankan history, DrKarunathilake, professor of sociology, in his daily mirror article stated that fair-skinned women used to get different privileges from those who in the upper positions of the social hierarchy. These privileges lead them to gain fame and maintain their living standards.  Furthermore, he stated that in Sri Lankan history, our ancient kings used to have ‘ Anthappuraya’ which represented the most preferred girls of the king. Through the drawings and various depictions, they too have been fair-skinned. As such, fair skin has been dominant as a ‘symbolic capital’ thereby offering special considerations to individuals. Based on the research findings of United states of America, it has been determined that  fair skin positively correlates with jobs, profession, education, income and marital status. Therefore, modern Sri Lankan society consider fair skin as a critical factor.

What’s more Dr. Karunathilake demonstrated that, fair skinned people have dominated  Sri Lankan cinema and other industries and people are naturally motivated to choose fair- skinned people to represent higher positions in society. This factor is quite evident in the events of beauty pageants where the majority of fair-skinned present. This fair-skinned dominance defines by the term of ‘ Hegemonic whiteness’. 

Moreover, HYDTI (2013) explained in their blog post of ‘ The pale face of srilankan beauty’, how women tend to think lighter skin makes them good looking and feel more attractive among society. Also, pharmacy products have been popular among the current generation of srilanka. Many people consider products related to ensuring existence of beauty such as medicines. At the same time, in the modern world, various mobile applications help in making people more beautiful. This provides an opportunity for many people to remain active socially. The daily story that is portrayed within the society provides an idea about the type of progress that have been made in the society. However, srilankan women have been consuming more natural method to skin lightening purposes for decades. In the article of effects of skin bleaching amongst African and Asian women written by NakintiNofuru , she described that Sri Lankan women at the age of 72, religiously covers skin with the miracle concoction of grounded turmeric paste and she features her clear, unlined face to this daily story.

In according to the cross cultural perception of beauty,  Frazier’s research finding stated that whiter skin has become the global interest. For example non western companies use western looking models to promote their products to non -western consumer groups. Indian thought system have influenced the south east Asian perception of beauty (Chaipraditkul, 2013). Indian cast system and myths whiteness played a major role in Asian society before the colonization of Europe. In most of Asian countries, fairer skin one benefited with the future marriage partner’s higher social class. The idealization fair skin and perfect marriage has deeply set out in the minds of Asian women.  They believed that youthfulness and high quality in women are represented by the fair skin. Also, in Thailand, health and wealth are symbolized by the fair skin. Bird et al., (2010) pointed out that, Chinese people’s belief of fair skinned bride is a symbol of man’s happiness and a good marriage. Similarly,  Fraziers’ idea is that ,westerners believe luxury is a represent of whiteness. On the other hand, they believe that darker skin represent poverty.

In order to analysethe Sri Lankan perception of beauty we focus on various research findings such as journal articles, newspaper articles, media researches as our secondary sources. The application of the secondary sources have helped in gaining a proper and detailed account of the concept of beauty and the manner in which it can help in the progress of society. Research results shows that  white skin has symbolize in Sri Lanka like most Asian countries. We used the  information of travel bog called HYDTI which revealed the beauty perception of Sri Lanka that they discovered throughout their journey to Sri Lanka. The findings shows that most Asian countries like china, japan, Thailand , India perceived white skin as a dominant symbol which privileges social status, profession and so on.

Moreover, the research results of ChristoperFraziersshows, surgical operations such as  blepharoplasty ( eyelid surgery), facial cosmetic surgery, plastic reconstructive surgery has become famous since 1998 among most Asians as they are influenced by western beauty cultural norms and mass media advertisements. Globalizing beauty article also mentioned that worldwide cosmetic and toiletries industry earn multibillion revenue   and world richest countries such as Japan and France spend $230 per capita per annum on beauty cosmetics. When referring to Sri Lanka, during the past three decades, both class of people belonging to the middle and low income Sri Lankan women spend great amount of money on their personal appearance and grooming ( Dissanayaka, 2014).   By contrast, It is said that,  averagesri Lankan women spend thirty eight percent of income for food, and  thirteen percent oncome on clothes, shoes  and health and personal beauty care products. While, the number of beauty salons has increased around the country. Based on the research findings, we can pointed out that urban Sri Lankans values stylized beauty so highly and tend to spend  a majority of portion the income that they are making on salon services and personal care services.

By contrast, Nielsen Co. report explained that products related to lifestyle and personal care constitutes a nation’s fastest growing consumer product industry. (Dissanayaka, 2014). What’s more, Nielsen Co. stated that, Sri Lanka’s three million millennials: Generation Y is said to have a high consumer confidence among all age categories and have more probability to spend on themselves. HYDTI (2013),  explained that world health organization has reported some startling statistics. As the Nigeria accounted for 77% rate for skin bleaching creams and India accounts for 61% rate. A research done by Global industry analysts, forecasts that skin lightening cosmetics is predicted to increased by $ 23 billion by the year of 2020 (HYDTI, 2015).  Also HYDTI  mentioned that, srilankan popular cosmetic brands such as fair and lovely, loreal,  Nature secrets,  Vaseline, chandanalepa  promoters skin care products and educate consumer about their products  featuring  Hollywood or Bollywood actress images with before and after results. One’s argue is that the trend is grown through the influence of modern cultural colonialism via mass media, i.e, under the relentless bombardment of Hollywood  should claim for the trend.

Additionally, majority of beauty cosmetic companies  promotes their advertisements through Television, Radio, newspapers and using social medias. Most of the advertisements promotes using a Hollywood actress with white skin or local actress with white skin. This trend is not a solely  results of growing influence of western cultural domination but also  neighborhood Asian countries domination and mass media campaigns of multinational companies which manufactured beauty cosmetics products such as Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, loreal, Johnson &johnson  and Avo. The industry tend to promotes the beauty alone.

Due to the favour of fair skin and beauty standards among sriLnkan people skin whitners and beauty cosmetics markets has continue to grow rapidly in Sri Lanka. To gain recognition and market share, the industry send their compelling messages to consumers by advertisements.  According to the research findings, Sri lanka has high market demand  and high market opportunity towards beauty products as urbanized srilankan society of various income levels has made beauty products as well as treatments a financial priority. Most of the beauty products markerts have used price discrimination strategy as consumers tend to believe that high prices represent high quality of a product.  It can be suggested that markers should balance their pricing strategy to gain majority of consumers acceptances.  Markerts can easily convey the massages  through advertisements and has the ability to diffuse socio- cultural values and the significance of beauty, feminity, pleasure, youth, and virility.

References

Bird D, Caldwell H, DeFenti M (2010) The quest for beauty: Asia’s fascination with pale skin. In:Oglesby RA, Leblanc HP III, Adams MG (eds) Business research yearbook:global business perspectives, Vol 17(1). Inter - national Academy of Business Disciplines, Beltsville, MD, p 26–32

Robinson, T. L., & Ward, J. V. (1995). African American adolescents and skin color. Journal of Black Psychology, 21(3), 256–274.

Chaipraditkul, N. (2013). Thailand: beauty and globalized self- identity through cosmetic therapy and skin lightening. Eubios Ethics Institute, Bangkok, Thailand.

Etcoff, N. L. (2000). Survival of the prettiest: The science of beauty. New York : Anchor Books.

Hunter, M. L. (2002). If you light you're alright: Light skin color as social capital for women of color. Gender & Society 16(2), 175–193.

Frazier, C. Dynamic Beauty: Cultural influences and changing perceptions- becoming prettier or erasing one’s own culture.

HYDTI 2013, viewed 07 July 2018, <https://heydipyourtoesin.com/the-pale-face-of-sri-lankan-beauty/>

Dissanayake, C 2014, viewed 07 July 2018, <https://globalpressjournal.com/asia/sri_lanka/in-urban-sri-lanka-women-of-all-income-levels-make-beauty-products-and-treatments-a-budgetary-priority/>

Palaniyandy, T 2010, ‘ Cultural illustration of the Norms of Female Beauty in Sri- Lanka’ , 11 February, viewed 07 July 2018 <https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2010/02/cultural-illustration-of-the-norms-of-female-beauty-in-sri-lanka/>

MontajulaSuvattanadilok, 2014. Skin Whitening Products Purchasing Intention Analysis. Research Journal of Business Management, 8: 28-42.

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