This is status comment gone long stemmed from a comment that got way too long... haha... essays happen I guess haha :)
As they say, "People criticize beauty for being skin deep... but what do you want, a cute pancreas?" imho nothing is wrong with beauty or even showcasing it. When it becomes wrong though is people obessessing to a point of realit...y disconnect when others ideals overpower your own... but that is not specific to beauty.
Though indeed vehicled by magazines, superficiality has been around for much longer than that and gutenberg did not unleash pandora's box of objectification. articles in them reflect the current ideals of society and not the other way aroun. Indeed, in order to sell, magazines need to appeal to people... and they do that through reader polling and take into account criteria that change through time. For example, surfing on the "anorexic is unhealthy" wave, vogue italy had a cover with more curvy models about a year ago. If people's mind change (and a good way to do that is through education), then magazines will change to increase their bottom line.
Though an easy target, superficiality is not specific to magazines... I have seen people reject a mate because they were shorter than them or were wearing the wrong kind of shoes... seen people litterally starve themselves to death to please other superficial people... sometimes people are with someone else without having anything to say, it is purely physical... superficial people... and these affirmations are voluntarily gender neutral because members of both sexes are guilty of stereotypes... and in a way, stereotypes about gender, race or religion are also a form of being superficial.
IMHO superficiality is wrong indeed but that is part of a deeper problem... most people do not want to think on their own and prefer relying on others' opinions even if they know very little. Almost half the people will believe what their favorite celebrity says just because they say so. Yet, even if I think it is wrong to be superficial people should be entitled to be if they prefer life that way... as long as their way is not imposed on others, they are entitled to their way.
Going even further, superficiality means different things to different people... and in a way, because we set priorities in life, we all appear superficial to others because we do not value the same things. For example, some people consider Epicurus superficial because his philosophy consisted in living a happy life, ignoring the bad things... but that is a philosophy as valid as any other (even if I personally there is more depth in life than the one he puts forth). Countless artists, inventors and visionaries are considered superficial because their vision was different... yet, years after they are gone, we find value in what they have done.
You will say yes but these people go agains what is mainstream and beauty objectified in medias is a mainstream phenomenon... yes, but even a mainstream opinion is an opinion. You do not necessarily have to disagree with the mainstream accepted idea to have depth in your own thoughts.
Further, what is mainstream today is not necessarily what is mainstream tomorrow. When the tide changes, do you automatically have to change your opinion to an unpopular idea to have depth in your thoughts? Personally, I think not... but I have seen enough people contradict themselves just because someone else they do not like has an opinion they used to agree with (romney's opinion on romney care is a good example... but so many others, not necessarily in politics).
That said, does it affect people in the end? not as much as you think... Eventually everyone finds people that fit their selection criteria as friends, lovers and acquaintances... Skin color, weight, height, stupidity, strength of character, degree of kindness... they all drive people's decisions... and in a way it does not matter as long as laws apply equally to everyone, all get a fair shot at life and no one is left out because of race, beliefs or being ugly.