The Modern-Day Feminine Beauty Ideal, Mental Health, and Jungian Archetypes
Introduction: It can be argued that beauty is not only an aesthetic value, but it is also a social capital which is supported by the global beauty industry. Advertising kindly offers all kinds of ways to acquire and maintain beauty and youth that require large investments. Recent studies demonstrate that physical attractiveness guided by modern sociocultural standards is associated with a higher level of psychological well-being, social ease, assertiveness, and confidence. What is behind this pursuit of ideal beauty and eternal youth: the life-long struggle for survival, selfless love for beauty, or something else that lurks in the depths of the human unconscious?
Purpose: The aim of the paper is to analyze the modern-day feminine beauty ideal through the lens of Jungian archetypes.
Methodology: An extensive literary review of relevant articles for the period 2000-2020 was performed using PubMed and Google databases, with the following key words: “Feminine beauty ideal, body image, beauty and youth, mental health problems, C.G. Jung, archetypes of collective unconsciousness”. Along with it, the author used Jung’s theory of archetypes, integrative anthropological approach, and hermeneutical methodology.
Results and Discussion: Advertising and the beauty industry have a huge impact on women and their self-image. Exposure to visual media depicting idealized faces and bodies causes a negative or distorted self-image. The new globalized and homogenized beauty ideal emphasizes youth and slimness. Over the past few decades, the emphasis on this ideal has been accompanied by an increase in the level of dissatisfaction with their bodies among both women and men. Though face and body image concerns are not a mental health condition in themselves, they have a negative impact on women’s mental health being associated with body dysmorphic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, depression, eating disorders, psychological distress, low self-esteem, self-harm, suicidal feelings. These trends are of real concern.
The interiorization of the modern standards of female beauty as the image of a young girl impedes the psychological development of women and causes disintegration disabling the interconnection of all elements of the psyche and giving rise to deep contradictions. This unattainable ideal is embodied in the Jungian archetype of the Kore. Without maturity transformations, the image of the Kore, which is so attractive to the modern world, indicates an undeveloped part of the personality. Her inability to grow up and become mature has dangerous consequences. Women “restrain their forward movement” becoming an ideal object of manipulation. Thus, they easily internalize someone’s ideas about what the world should be and about their “right” place in it losing the ability to think critically and giving away power over their lives.
Conclusion: Overcoming the psychological threshold of growing up, achieving deep experience and inner growth, a woman discovers another aspect of the Kore, ceases to be an object of manipulation and accepts reality as it is, while her beauty becomes multifaceted and reflects all aspects of her true personality
Average amount consumers spend on beauty and personal care products per month in the United States as of May 2017, by gender. (2019). Statista. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/715231/average-monthly-spend-on-beauty-products-us/.
Beauvoir, S. (2011). The Second Sex. Vintage.
Black, E.B., Garratt, M., Beccaria, G., Mildred, H., Kwan, M. (2019). Body image as a predictor of nonsuicidal self-injury in women: A longitudinal study. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 88, 83-89. doi: https://doi.org/10/1016/j.comppsych.2018.11.010.
Bolen, J.S. (2014). Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes in Women’s Lives. Harper paperbacks.
Danylova, T. (2015). The Way to the Self: The Novel “Steppenwolf” Through the Lens of Jungian Process of Individuation. Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research, 7, 28-35. https://doi.org/10.15802/ampr2015/43391
Danylova, T.V. (2020). Perceiving the Sacred Feminine: Some Thoughts on the Cycladic Figurines and Jungian Archetypes. Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research, 17, 88-97. https://doi.org/10.15802/ampr.v0i17.206719
Datta Gupta, N., Etcoff, N.L., & Jaeger, M.M. (2016). Beauty in Mind: The Effects of Physical Attractiveness on Psychological Well-Being and Distress. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17, 1313-1325. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-015-9644-6
Etcoff, N. (2000). Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty. Anchor.
Feingold, A. (1992). Good-looking people are not what we think. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 304–341.
Grabe, S., Ward, L. M., & Hyde, J. S. (2011). The role of the media in body image concerns among women: A meta-analysis of experimental and correlational studies. Psychological Bulletin, 134(3), 460–476.
Graves, R. (2013). White Goddess. FSG Adult.
Jenna Lilla. (2013). On the Kore. Self-Realization. 2013. http://deepsacred.com/2013/06/14/carl-jung-images-may-correspond-to-disturbances-and-symptoms/
Jung, C.G. (1980). The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious. Read, H., Fordham, M., Adler, G., McGuire, W. (Eds). Bollingen Series XX. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. Complete Digital Edition. Volume 9, Part 1. Princeton University Press. Retrieved from https://www.jungiananalysts.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/C.-G.-Jung-Collected-Works-Volume-9i_-The-Archetypes-of-the-Collective-Unconscious.pdf
Jung, C.G. (2017). Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Baynes, C.F., Dell, W.S. (Trans). Martino Fine Books.
Kim, S., & Lee, Y. (2018). Why do women want to be beautiful? A qualitative study proposing a new “human beauty values” concept. PLoS One, 13(8), e0201347.
Lim, I-S. (2004). The experience and intention of cosmetic surgery in the looks-discriminatory society. Journal of Korean Women’s Studies, 20(1), 95–112.
Luxen, M.F., & Van De Vijver F.J.R. (2006). Facial attractiveness, sexual selection, and personnel selection: When evolved preferences matter. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 27(2), 241–55.
Mair, C. (2019). The influence of body image on mental health. The British Psychological Society. Retrieved from https://www.bps.org.uk/blogs/guest/influence-body-image-mental-health
McLintock, K. (2020). The Average Cost of Beauty Maintenance Could Put You Through Harvard. Byrdie. Retrieved from https://www.byrdie.com/average-cost-of-beauty-maintenance.
Mobius, M. M., & Rosenblat, T. S. (2006). Why beauty matters. American Economic
Review, 96, 222–235.
Neiman, S. (2015). Why Grow Up?: Subversive Thoughts for an Infantile Age. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Octan, V. (2017). Self-Harm Behaviour in Adolescents: Body Image and Self-Esteem. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 27(2), 177-189. Doi: 10.1017/jgc.2017.6.
One in eight adults in the UK have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns about their body image – new Mental Health Foundation survey (2019). Mental Health Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/news/one-eight-adults-uk-have-experienced-suicidal-thoughts-or-feelings-because-concerns-about-their.
Sharp, D. (1991). Jung Lexicon: A Primer of Terms & Concepts. Retrieved from https://www.psychceu.com/Jung/sharplexicon.html
Skogemann, P. (undated). The Daughter Archetype. Retrieved from https://piaskogemann.dk/%E2%80%8Bthe-daughter-archetype/
Stark, J.F. (2020). The Cult of Youth: Anti-Ageing in Modern Britain. Cambridge University Press.
Strahan, E.J., Wilson, A.E., Cressman, K.E., & Buote, V.M. (2006). Comparing to perfection: How cultural norms for appearance affect social comparisons and self-image. Body Image, 3(3), 211-227.
The Covid-19 Pandemic and Its Effect on Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Beauty Standards. (2020). Columbus Park. Eating Disorder Experts. Retrieved from https://columbuspark.com/2020/10/19/the-covid-19-pandemic-and-its-effect-on-body-dysmorphic-disorder-and-beauty-standards/
Tiggemann, M. (2004). Body image across the adult life span: Stability and change. Body Image, 1, 29–41.
Wolf, N. (2002). The Beauty Myth. How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women. HarperCollins e-books