Beauty Impossible: Breaking the Barriers of Beauty and Self Image is the written academic explanation of the installation Community, which is a series of blind contour line drawing portraits that depict individuals existing in the life of the artist, Emily Burcham. Both the creative body and research focus on the societal ideal for beauty and its impact on the average person. This is explored through the historic context of the art canon which would visually influence Community, and then through a modern lens looking at the origins of societal commercialized beauty culture. Beginning with a technological boom in the 1920’s, the media has encouraged women to mimic what is seen in movies and advertisements. This is also influenced by colonialism and the power plays that happen when a population is displaced by an outside force. These issues are so deeply rooted in global culture, that children have internalized ideas about how bodies should look and begin worrying about their body size at as young as 5 years old. This is combined with the media distorting what teens believe the average person looks like, to the point where there is cognitive dissonance when they are confronted with the actual human body. The internal effect of this is the inspiration for Community, which aims to show audiences that there is beauty in imperfection.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2022


Melissa Vandenberg

Mentor Department Affiliation

Art and Design

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Art and Design

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