When you wake up and see yourself in the mirror, do you like yourself? Probably, there is at least a couple of features that should be different, why? This hypothetical situation is common in the minds of young women. The word ‘beautiful’ has become a fixed idea based on the society we live in. While hearing “Scars to Your Beautiful” on the radio, besides the catchy lyrics, I thought it gives a message of empowerment. The songwriter and singer at the same time is Alessia Cara. In her video clip, Cara effectively connects to the audience through storytelling from the lyrics and experiences from people that are not being considered “beautiful,” either personally or publicly due to the influence of ‘beauty standards’. The argument in the song is the self-love of your body, to embrace it, and do not try to change it due to other people. Cara makes use of rhetoric by appealing to the emotions of viewers, uses her reputation and character to provide credibility, but misses logos due to the type of text.
The background scenery of the video is an empty room with neutral colors, where solar rays are the only source of light. Alessia wears a black attire and has no makeup on, nor a fancy hairstyle as most female singers are in their videos. In a series of vignettes, the guests introduce themselves and the camera emphasizes their ‘flaws.’ The majority of the guests are grownup female, girls, and teenagers. People that can be encountered on a daily basis. Little emotional stories are thrown back and forth with the song; for roughly a minute and a half of the clip. Most of the guests talk comfortably in what seems to be their homes. Some of them have piercings; tattoos; wear glasses; different skin color and body type; different hair color and texture; visible scars from surgery; a disease like cancer. These are physical distinctions that society tends to call-out negatively due to the mental body image created by advertisements. Causing an endless desire to somehow fit under the beauty standards.
The songwriter uses pathos to appeal to the guilt of viewers. For example, one woman said: “People watching you eat and making little comments”(Cara). Because we know we have judged the appearance of someone and it is not correct to do it.
It also appeals to empathy, for relating personally to the issues of not being as ‘beautiful’ as a model or understand the feelings of the guests experiences. The artist sings, “So she tries to cover up her pain and cut her woes away,” “ ’Cause cover girls don’t cry after their face is made”(Cara). Alessia uses pathos among these verses since the words “pain”, “woes”, and “cry” by their own denote feelings. The way Alessia worded her verses makes the viewer believe and empathize with the hardships of women. If these verses were read like metaphors, it says that for a moment her problems are gone; because once dressed up, oneself feels more confident and others can perceive it. If the first verse is read literally, is about a girl who physically hurts herself. In the video clip, a woman in her forties unravels a piece of cloth from her head during the phrase “So he tries to cover up her pain…”(Cara). However, this woman does not finish to uncover her head almost at the end of the clip when the lyrics are “No better you than the you that you are”(Cara). Where I interpreted as accepting the real you.
Lastly, the appeal to pity from the sad stories shared by the guests in her video. A good example is Kylie, a little kid who seems to have cancer, “People would laugh and stare”(Cara). I can imagine how her peers might make her feel that she is strange. A girl that since a young age has to deal with the idea of beauty. The visuals, the lyrics, the motivational comments, as a whole are her best strength to give the audience a reason to care about the issue. Therefore, the way Alessia Cara uses pathos is well-structured.
A celebrity is included, Joanna Noelle Levesque (mostly known as JoJo), is a singer and actress. JoJo, uneasy declared that “a lot of people aren’t afraid to give their opinions whether they’re hurtful or not” and ended the comment with a facial gesture of disappointment. This factor gives ethos to Cara’s message since JoJo from a professional public figure expresses the struggle artists face too. From the music industry, society associates an attractive looking singer as part of being a selling artist. Cara in most of her performances uses comfortable clothing regarding if it is stylish or not and for that reason, she has received a lot of backlashes. Converse
ly, in an interview with the digital news company Mic; she described, “The thing that bothered me most was that most of the [negative] comments were from other women”(Riotta). This gives her enough credibility to perform a song like “Scars To Your Beautiful” because as a new star she has confronted these media standards. In the song video, we can observe that she does not know what pose or position to have as in other of her videos and concerts. Better said, she might have chosen not to, because by having a neutral expression the audience is going to take the message more seriously. Inclusively, the singer shows on camera one of her scars in the area of the neck. Thus, her attitude suits the style of the video, which allows transmitting her argument smoothly without being the center of attention. Hence, her appeal to ethos is effective as a way of persuasion.
On the other hand, her work—the video clip—lacks logos. On account of that, there is no evidence to back up the claims in her verses since these are metaphors and hypothetical scenarios of a woman’s behavior or thinking regarding her body appearance. It is a song, consequently is meant for entertainment, however, Cara went a step further and persuades but not by being informative. One could think that the guests narratives are evidence but are more about implicitly stating the influence of media on society’s perspective. Thereby, people judge people’s looks. The more direct idea is the quote at the end of the video by Alessia:
Often times, the world both directly and indirectly tells us that we shouldn’t be happy with ourselves if we don’t fit certain beauty standards.
Scars to your beautiful is a reminder that beauty isn’t only one look, shape, size, or colour [sic]. It isn’t even always tangible. It comes in an endless amount of forms and we need to recognize that.
This explains what inspired to do the song and the purpose of it. Henceforth, this is the area of weakness in her persuasion, but it is understandable to be.
Moreover, based on this text (official video of the song) I analyzed some of the effects of having beauty standards as well. Mass media is a cause for beauty standards. Society is constantly bombarded by ads, almost everywhere. It can be when you check your cell phone, street posters, television, magazines, and so on. In the article “Who Is Beholding My Beauty? Thinness Ideals, Weight, and Women’s Responses to Appearance Evaluation,” it is denoted that “women are more likely to adhere to these [thin] ideals than men are” (Darlow and Lobel 834). Women appear in more ads than men, whose beauty has been criticized for decades. Women idealize themselves with that body type and is an obsession to become that way. These ideals only generate low-self esteem, pressure from being judged by peers, and anxiety. Some females try to exercise, take weight-loss pills, or do a strict diet. Nevertheless, in some cases, diet can go off hand. A verse from her song that stood out to me was “You know, cover girls eat nothing” and then the lyrics continue with “she says beauty is pain and there’s beauty in everything” “What’s a little bit of hunger?”(Cara). This part of the song gives a clear visualization of what goes through the mind of women while looking at a magazine and how they connect beauty with weight. Somehow many women try to follow a diet regimen like models and just end up with health problems. It is often mentioned that anorexia and bulimia are the most prone eating disorders in young women. According to the research of pbs.org, “Five to ten million American woman suffer from eating disorders” (“Eating Disorders”). Media has a great influence to persuade people’s minds. It is surprising the number of studies stating how hurtful beauty standards can be for some, yet the way the media portrays women has not changed much in this decade.
Usually, the covers of a magazine, for example, portray a skinny female with very accentuated facial features. Being beautiful is often seen as having “high eyebrows, large eyes, high cheekbones, a small nose, and a narrow face”(Yan and Bissell 195). Thus, companies try to ‘help’ women to achieve the unrealistic beauty standards with anti-aging creams, make-up, plastic surgery, etcetera. An interminable consumption, such consumerism wouldn’t be as big if women accepted their selves. For example, one woman in the video confessed: “ I grew up thinking that I had to look a certain way” (Cara). The comment implies the fact that since an early age, society is surrounding kids with all these images of ‘beautiful’ and ‘attractive’ ladies.”Therefore, when they grew up, they try to work their way to have a closer fit in ‘beauty.’ As the song describes, “she craves attention, she praises an image, she prays to be sculpted by the sculptor” and “Maybe we have made her blind”(Cara). Her metaphor connects the audience to understand the reality of the problem, using a speculative tone. How I see it is the media being the “sculptor” and “blind” to the belief that there is only one type of beauty.
This visual text had a lot of material to cover. The combination of the song and conversation, plus her written conclusion made the text very solid. The video also included men, which I thought it was ironic since the lyrics talk about women in general. However, her message goes more in deep. Men might struggle with being accepted by peers, but often times women are targeted more by society’s perception. The message of the song can be applied as self and peer acceptance. In addition, the phrase: ” beauty goes deeper than the surface” (Cara). Means that having a good personality is something we should all work on. Physical appereance ages. Therefore, it is likely that people remember you for how you treated them. the reference to ” scars” can be interpreted as physical marks, but also psychological ones. Another takeaway is to understand that every person is unique and there is no need to pretend to be someone you are not. One should decide to use beauty products as a personal decision, not an influenced thought. Beauty products are acceptable to use as a form of embracing yourself not to hide internal insecurities.
Cara, Alessia. “Scars to Your Beautiful.” YouTube, 11 July 2016, https://youtu.be/MWASeaYuHZo.
My rhetorical analysis is from this song.
Darlow, Susan, and Marci Lobel. “Who Is Beholding My Beauty? Thinness Ideals, Weight, and Women’s Responses to Appearance Evaluation.” , vol. 63, no. 11-12, Dec. 2010, p. 833. EBSCO , doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9845-8.
The article gives an overview of the physical appearance importance and perception a female group has. Some factors to study: self-esteem, culture, and weight. The data charts can serve to back up the common thoughts about the ideal body type that society believes. The authors are members of the department of psychology and the Stony Brook University, I consider they have a credible background and even has their contact information.
“Eating Disorders.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, http://www.pbs.org/perfectillusions/eatingdisorders/preventing_media.html.
It mentions how does media influences the perception of the ideal body type and how girls try to fit in that perception. Eating problems, like anorexia or bulimia, are an effect of media. This is going to serve my analysis on the negative effects of beauty standards. I think the source has credibility since it is not for commercial purposes but broadcasting to the public and is associated with NPR.
Riotta, Chris. “Alessia Cara Reveals Why She’s Ditching Hair and Makeup in Her Recent Performances.” Mic, Mic Network Inc., July 2016, mic.com/articles/149076/alessia-cara-reveals-why-she-s-ditching-hair-and-makeup-in-her-recent-performances.
It is an interview with Cara on the message of her song and how she feels about the music industry. This helps me to provide some background of the artist to understand a little bit more about her ethos.
Yan, Yan and Kim Bissell. “The Globalization of Beauty: How Is Ideal Beauty Influenced by Globally Published Fashion and Beauty Magazines?” doi:10.1080/17475759.2014.917432., vol. 43, no. 3, Aug. 2014, pp. 194-214. EBSCO ,
A research which focuses on the portrayal of female beauty around the globe. Based on the selected models that fit the standards of the region. I plan to use this source to demonstrate patterns of beauty according to renowned magazines. It is a reliable source because it is an academic journal which gives the methods used to reach such conclusions.
“Beauty and the Beast (1991).”Animation screencaps, June 2015, animationscreencaps.com/beauty-and-ther-beast-1991/46/.
“Makeup Ads-4k Wiki Wallpapers 2018.”Wikiname.us, http://www.wikiname.us/makeup-ads/.
Rodulfo, Kristina. “Alessia Cara Literally Had Her Makeup Wiped Off On Stage – and it’s Empowering.” POPSUGAR Tech, Aug. 2017, http://www.popsugar.com/beauty/Alessia-Cara-Makeup-2017-MTV-VMAs-43942232.
Vasicsek, Kinga. ”Effects of Media on the Perception of Beauty.” YouTube, YouTube, May 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLUq0mrMoLw.