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Unformatted text preview: Daniel Huffman Annotated Bibliography Doctor Holland 10/18/10 Feminine Beauty in our Society Women in today’s society are unsatisfied with their physical appearance. Depending on your ethnicity there is a different thing wrong with you, or that is what our society tells you. Black women want straight hair, white women want curly hair. Women are brainwashed into believing that they are not attractive without “enhancing” their looks. It is one thing to put on a little make-up, getting your eyebrows done, and shaving your legs, but silicon breasts, artificial hair, and being unhealthily skinny are pretty ridiculous ways to reach this unattainable standard of beauty. Women continue to strive for these unrealistic standards of beauty despite the substantial evidence that says it is physically, and emotionally unhealthy. The physical repercussions are quite apparent, but the emotional repercussions can be more dangerous because they are unseen to most and can be much more dangerous. Extreme beautification measures tend to be expensive, and in certain cases damaging physically. Thousands of women get breast implants preventing them from breast-feeding their children, which helps babies develop and is how nature intended babies to be nurtured. Our society should learn how to accept their natural beauty and be happy with just that. This distorted idea of beauty causes potential suicide, chronic emotional instability, bulimia, and numerous other health hazards. The more women that learn how to be naturally beautiful the better off all women will be. Harris, Jessica B. 1995. The world beauty book: how we can all look and feel wonderful using the natural beauty secrets of women of color. [San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco. Harris (1995) argues that the western world has always been captivated by women of color. Before cosmetics were developed in the western world they were commonly practiced in Indian, Egyptian, Chinese, Aztec, and Native American culture. Cosmetics were used for specific cultural reasons opposed to how modern westerners use cosmetics to improve themselves in some way. In India cosmetics were often used for seduction, and went hand in hand with Kama Sutra, the art of sexual pleasure. Egyptians normally used cosmetics for primarily two reasons: to protect them from the arid climate they lived in, and to preserve their dead. Upper-class Chinese women normally used heavy make up on a day to day basis, and they developed a form of skin care far earlier than most cultures. Aztec women used avocado to exfoliate, jojoba oil to wash their hair, and a special cosmetic called Axim to improve complexion. Native Americans were skilled in many areas one of them being natural cosmetics. Native Americans knew how to make shampoos, mouth wash, and even herbal teas to relieve menstrual pains. All of these cultures had knowledge of physical enhancement, yet not one of these cultures went as far as to try and alter their physical appearance as drastically as you see today. The vast majority of these uses did not primarily serve for beauty either, it was for cultural, or survival reasons. Kimball, Gayle. 2005. Women's culture in a new era: a feminist revolution? Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow. Kimball (2005) discusses the effects of media on female body image which further supports my assertion of societal pressures on females to achieve an unrealistic standard of beauty. Women worldwide, but American women in especially suffer from an acute distortion of body image. Many people suffer from obesity, anorexia, and bulimia because the media constantly tells them they are not beautiful enough and women buy into this belief. The reality is every woman is unique. The key to a healthy body is a combination of exercise, and proper diet. The media tells women that they need to buy specific cosmetic products, or procedures to obtain that plastic standard of beauty. That is not the case because that standard of beauty is unattainable by any healthy individual. If women were as small as manikins they would be unable to bear children. It is highly unhealthy to strive for that standard of beauty and women should learn to love who they naturally are. Pryke, Rachel. 2006. Weight matters for young people: a complete guide to weight, eating and fitness. Oxford: Radcliffe. Pryke (2006) discusses the causes, effects, and gender distribution of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating. The proper name for anorexia is anorexia nervosa meaning “nervous loss of appetite”. The female to male ratio for people suffering from anorexia is 9:1, and only affects 0.4% of the population. The proper name for bulimia is bulimia nervosa meaning “nervous insatiable appetite”. Bulimia is also most prevalent in females with a ratio of 30:1, and this only affects 1-1.5% of the population. Binge eating disorder is primarily characterized by binge eating once a week at the minimum. The ratio of female to male binge eaters is unknown, but binge eating affects 4-5% of the population, and can easily lead to severe obesity. Pryke stresses that body image very important for all teenagers, so why is it that the more drastic measures of looking thin are taken in large by females? The answer would likely be the media perpetuating the standard of beauty which isn’t meant to be obtained. Despite the severity of these conditions the percentage of our population suffering from this disorder is quite low. There are far more individuals suffering from obesity than anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. The individuals that suffer from obesity generally had little to no parental intervention on behalf of a healthy diet, or have parents who are obese and see no problem with it. McElmurry, Beverly J. and Parker, Randy S. 1993-1996. Annual review of women's health. New York: National League for Nursing/ McElmurry and Parker (1995) argue the importance of women’s health. Prostitution is considered the “oldest profession” due to the fact that there are numerous names, titles, etc. to describe a prostitute. Prostitution similar to racism and inequality are one of those topics many people feel uncomfortable talking about, but also seem to persist in new more “acceptable” forms despite the laws and what not put in place to sanction it. Women have been praised for their beauty for thousands of years. Men holding beauty in high regard and men having a strong influence on how people think has given shape to the impossible standard of beauty that is perpetuated by the media of today. Prostitutes generally don’t choose to be prostitutes, but rather end up there because of emotional instability, financial instability, or physical insecurity. Emotional instability can occur at many stages during childhood, but often times the most devastating emotional debacles occur in the school system via your peers. Fitting in is important for everyone and when you are one of the few people that are cast aside by the majority it is a major blow to your emotional health. Many women who are born into low-income families resort to stripping or prostitution because it is one of the few options they have to be financially stable. Physical security is a double entendre because it brings up two equally important factors. Being uncomfortable in your own skin is a problem that far too many young women have and feeling unprotected is another reason women end up in prostitution. As bad as prostitution seems for the women involved it likely feels safer than whatever their alternative is. Franks, Violet. 1983. The Stereotyping of women: its effects on mental health. New York: Springer. Franks and Rothblum (1983) discusses the gender inequalities that are thoroughly ingrained in us from adolescence. Stereotypes like women cook are supposed to cook, clean, and raise children greatly affect the way young girls shape their aspirations. If all you have been told you will be good at is gender specific jobs that is ultimately what you will begin to believe. When women do not expect to be able make a career for themselves they have to depend on marrying a man who can provide her with the kind of life she wants. This dependence reinforces the pressures to be attractive as well as submissive. Gender stereotypes can lead to harm for whichever person, or group is being stereotyped. Women being so dependent, and given little encouragement to do much outside of their gender roles can lead to depression, or agoraphobia. While gender roles themselves may have their uses they can also perpetuate negative messages to young impressionable women. Sutton (2009) explains the changes in the type of women from a few decades ago referred to as the “Victorian women” to the modern or “new women”. The Victorian women refers to a much less promiscuous, beauty centered women; instead what is held in high regard is morals, family, and community. The idea of the Victorian women is interesting because it takes gender roles, and shows us the positive side which rarely comes up in heated discussions. The Victorian women also brings up new issues with the idea that women integrated into a male dominated work environment, or learning environment will cause harm to a female’s reproductive systems. While we now know that it isn’t true it doesn’t make it any less interesting that this was the topic of concern at the time. The “new women” is the result of the image of beauty and the shift from a dependent woman to an independent woman that still fits into our society. Unfortunately because of the rebellious tendencies of young people the new generations took it a little too far and ended up with problems like anorexia, and accepted promiscuity. The definition of a beautiful woman has gone from a dainty, well mannered, delicate, and morally strong to anorexic, cosmetically enhanced, promiscuous, and Botoxinjected. The current position women are in is beneficial socially, and career wise, but they lose out on the image of beauty which most all women feel some-what obligated to adhere to. Bruckner, Hannah. 2004. Gender inequality in the life course: social change and stability in West ̈ Germany, 1975-1995. Hawthorne, N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter. Brückner (2004) explains the relationship between women and the social world in the early 90s. Before women had roles in society other than the traditional gender roles their social status was generally determined by their kin (family) primarily their husbands. Despite the limited social and economic mobility women had during this time the simplicity of how things function was exemplary. With the current social and economic mobility of women while it provides new opportunities it also provides new problems that have to be dealt with. When you think about work and leisure an easy way to divide it up is public and private spectrums. Typically a man is worried about work related issues in his public spectrum, and his private life his private spectrum is a break from stress and worry. For a family women who is in the same type of high caliber job there is a lot more pressure because her public and private spectrums conflict. A woman has to worry about juggling work, and motherhood, as well as losing her job, or losing her spouse who more than likely also contributes to household income. While the strides society has made to allow women to get to high caliber jobs is indubitably a positive change there are still problems that need progressive solutions. Slipp, Samuel. 1996. Healing the gender wars: therapy with men and couples. Northvale, N.J.: J. Aronson. Slipp (1996) explains the birth of the feminist movement as a result of World War 2. During World War 2 women had to work because so many men were off fighting the wars. Prior to being defaulted into these positions very few women worked because their “place” was in the home. After the end of World War 2, and all the women were told to give up their positions to men returning from the war women felt entitled to a role in society outside of their homes. The change in economic standing resulted in a waterfall effect for other issues women had in society. Women felt entitled to emotional as well as sexual satisfaction in relationships. Women began feeling comfortable leaving relationships that were unsatisfactory married or not. These changes of norms were groundbreaking. The feminine movement had empowered women to make their own choices and live their own lives. Peach, Lucinda J. 1998. Women in culture: a women's studies anthology. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers. Peach (1998) discusses in great detail the societal pressures for women to beautiful that stem from fashion, advertisements, television, and the film industry. These mass media devices work like a machine to perpetuate the body image that American society supports. Peach reported “beauty at any cost” (p. 172) which refers to the extensive cosmetic surgery, strict diets, or even unhealthy practices such as anorexia and bulimia. Peach refers to the unattainable standard of beauty as the “beauty myth” (p.171) which coincided with the feminist movement. The beauty myth seemed to serve as a counterbalance for the newly found freedoms women had. The beauty myth and economy are interdependent because the diet industry makes $33 billion, cosmetics $20 billion, cosmetic surgery 300 million, and pornography $7 billion. All three of these industries thrive because of women, but women also depend on these industries to achieve the beauty myth, and degrade women to further their dependence on these same industries. As a result of the American culture most women are unsatisfied with their bodies; even women who are naturally gorgeous fell insecure about their bodies, because society perpetuates female inferiority. Film and fashion are two major contributors to the beauty myth because they constantly show society women that are unreal. When you see a model in a fashion magazine she has a large amount of make-up on, and after the images are taken they are digital enhanced to produce an image that is physically impossible for women to attain. Feminine fashion has been historically constricting or uncomfortable for women because of the use of items such as corsets, and girdles, and even now there are high heels, and mini-skirts that cause discomfort as well as restricted mobility. This creates a vicious cycle where women inherently support a system that continues to exploit, and degrade them. The beauty myth is a great way to describe the standard of beauty American holds women to because it is a myth, and is not meant to be attained. Chapman, Yolanda M. 2004 I am Not my Hair! Or am I?: Black Women's Transformative Experience in their Self Perceptions of Abroad and at Home (2007). Anthropology Theses. Paper 23. Chapman (2007) explains her research on self-identified black women. Black women are looked at or categorized as the “other” in our society. Black women have an array of hair textures, and a variation of skin tone in America. For many Black women their hair is important because it represents their gender. Chapman looks at women who have participated in the study abroad program and found that a large number of young Black women were worried about their hair, and how they would take care of it when the go to study abroad. Black women have internalized the notion that their physical traits are inferior to that of a women white or Anglo-Saxon descent. This stems from slavery because when Africans were taken from African they were forced to leave behind all of their tools, and hair care recipes. Slaves did not have time to make their hair look nice, so they were forced to wrap their hair, and the only nice hair they saw was the slave master’s wife. This warped idea of inferiority persists today, and the worst part is many young black girls do not know why they have “bad hair”. While hair is important to black women, it is also important to women as a whole. So why is it that black women worry about their hair more than any other ethnic group? The answer is socialization. Black women are taught at a young age by their mothers, or grandmothers that maintenance of hair is of very high priority. Black women need to learn to be comfortable in their own skin and with their own hair because everyone is beautiful in their own natural way. My research has showed me the bias women have gone through throughout the years as well as the pressures they continue to face today. While my original argument holds accurate I have a profoundly better understanding of the steps women have taken and the challenges they continue to face. When I approached this topic I expected to be viewing it solely from the issue regarding standards of beauty, but during my research I began to see how other issues related to my issue. Women are still facing issues primarily with the beauty myth, but I am certain that these unrealistic standards will soon be nothing more than a distant memory. There are women who are well aware of the standard of beauty, and are taking the necessary steps to inform other women. Yesterday you had the Victorian women, today you have the modern women, and tomorrow you will have the naturally beautiful women. References Bruckner, Hannah. 2004. Gender inequality in the life course: social change and stability in West ̈ Germany, 1975-1995. Hawthorne, N.Y.: Aldine de Gruyter. Chapman, Yolanda M. 2004 I am Not my Hair! Or am I?: Black Women's Transformative Experience in their Self Perceptions of Abroad and at Home (2007). Anthropology Theses. Paper 23. Harris, Jessica B. 1995. The world beauty book: how we can all look and feel wonderful using the natural beauty secrets of women of color. [San Francisco]: HarperSanFrancisco. Kimball, Gayle. 2005. Women's culture in a new era: a feminist revolution? Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow. Peach, Lucinda J. 1998. Women in culture: a women's studies anthology. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers. McElmurry, Beverly J. and Parker, Randy S. 1993-1996. Annual review of women's health. New York: National League for Nursing/ Pryke, Rachel. 2006. Weight matters for young people: a complete guide to weight, eating and fitness. Oxford: Radcliffe. Franks, Violet. 1983. The Stereotyping of women: its effects on mental health. New York: Springer. Slipp, Samuel. 1996. Healing the gender wars: therapy with men and couples. Northvale, N.J.: J. Aronson. Sutton, Denise H. 2009. Globalizing ideal beauty: how female copywriters of the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency redefined beauty for the twentieth century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/21/2011 for the course SOCI 1101 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at Georgia State.
- Fall '08