Woman looking in mirror
Photo: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Thinkstock
Years ago, actresses were glamorous, larger-than-life movie icons and role models that women looked up to and wanted to be like. But, now that you can follow celebrities on Twitter, read about their makeups and breakups on their blogs and in the tabloids, movie stars are becoming more like...you. Find out how technology has influenced your perception of how you look at yourself and modern-day Hollywood.
The digital age has brought with it wonderful advantages in all aspects of people's lives, but it has also created certain unexpected troubles—one of which is a detrimental change in society's perception of beauty.

Prior to computers, magazines and cinema were the sole outlets influencing your perception of beauty. Movie icons—larger than life—were admired on the silver screen, and their more notable adventures were followed in magazines. Carefully orchestrated photo shoots with perfect lighting, makeup and hair styling enhanced the stars' already beautiful faces. These stars were idolized for their beauty and style. And the general public placed the lucky, well-known celebrities on pedestals, crowning them as royalty. They were role models—adored, but not copied, because it was understood that they lived a life far different from the average person. Stars were admired...from afar.

Fast-forward to the present, ever-changing computer age where you are bombarded by images of all forms and gossip about those celebrities who used to be so glamorized—so distant and different than you. Their lives are chronicled on a daily basis thanks to Twitter, blogs, online magazines and other easily attainable media, creating an almost intimate relationship between the public and the stars. And this change in society's relationship has changed its view of beauty. Since these celebrities are now on your level, doesn't that also mean you can be more like them?

The bar for women has been set unrealistically high by the role models people have today. The deck has been stacked against the modern woman. It was bad enough women used to see 17-year-old fashion models wearing $25,000 haute couture gowns in women's magazines. Now, thanks to Photoshop and other photo-editing software, photos may be manipulated to make their subjects look thinner or heavier, taller or shorter, bustier or flatter chested. Wrinkles can be magically erased and prized features, such as pronounced cheekbones, can be enhanced. The touch-up technician has become an essential part of every photo project.

So the inevitable question arises: How can women, young or not, aspire to look like modern-day role models when the role models themselves don't even look like their photos?

How to feel beautiful when you're surrounded by unrealistic messages

Dr. Robert Tornambe
Photo: Melissa Hamburg
The answer should be evident, but with people's new relationship to the stars and new beauty technologies like Botox, facial fillers and cosmetic surgery, this goal seems to be practically doable. But self-esteem can plummet when women compare themselves to these unrealistic iconic images. They are chasing an illusion and place themselves in a no-win situation.

Take Heidi Montag as an example. Recently, this very pretty 23-year-old, up-and-coming actress underwent 10 different surgical procedures so she could look "more glamorous" and hopefully stand out in the highly competitive Hollywood arena. She stands out now, but for all the wrong reasons!
So, how does an intelligent, attractive woman in today's society adjust to all these unrealistic messages around her?

First, women must stop this star worship and gain back a bit of separation between the woman on the screen and the woman in the mirror. Realize that what you see in the media is not reality. These faces should not be the faces you aspire to have. Choose realistic role models for various stages of life. And remember that as wonderful as plastic surgery is, if you are 60 years old, you are never going to look like Heidi Klum. Look for women who are beautiful and vivacious, yet who are aging gracefully, like Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep—or your boss or neighbor. Use these as your role models, and your life will become much simpler and your goals more attainable.

Also, women need to discard their one-dimensional definition of beauty. Beauty does not lie in physical features alone. It's about the whole package: physical beauty, mental strength, warm personality and personal presentation. So stop looking in the mirror and seeing the glass as half empty. Instead of looking for flaws, embrace your positive characteristics and figure out ways to enhance them. Stop wishing for someone else's nose or hair and fall in love with your own. A face can be structurally imperfect but still beautiful. Intangibles make a woman beautiful, and you must recognize those wonderful quirks that you possess and be proud of them. Develop a beauty arsenal consisting of clothing that fits well and enhances your attributes. Create a solid hair-and-makeup routine, and exercise to stay healthy and build your confidence. Confidence is the real secret here! A confident woman is a beautiful woman. Learn how to feel great on the inside as well as the outside.

New York City plastic surgeon Dr. Robert M. Tornambe is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.) and diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (board certified). In addition to completing his plastic surgery training at the University of Texas–Houston, Dr. Tornambe has completed fellowship training in surgery of the breast with world-renowned plastic surgeons and acted as the chief of the division of plastic surgery at Cabrini Medical Center in New York City for nearly two decades.

Dr. Tornambe has lectured in the United States and Europe and is considered an expert in cosmetic facial and breast surgery. He was listed in
New York Magazine's "The Best Doctors in New York." Dr. Tornambe has appeared on Dateline, NBC's Today and The Charlie Rose Show, and he was the only New York City–based plastic surgeon to appear on the ABC series Extreme Makeover. His latest book is The Beauty Quotient Formula (Hay House).

Keep Reading:
What's behind this insatiable desire for fame?
Understand America's obession with celebrities
Why you should focus on just being yourself


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