Susan Bordo and John Berger discuss similar issues on our culture, yet Berger’s ideas preceded Bordo’s by a quarter of a century. Bordo analyzes how we come to see and value our physical self and the factors that determine our views. Berger criticizes traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising questions about visual images. While both seem to be conducting the same type of research and have similar opinions on the subject, they are ultimately saying different things. In “Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body”, Bordo emphasizes the impact of consumerism and popular culture on how women see and value their physical selves. And, due to a recent realization, she describes how men are also impacted, more now than ever before, by consumerism.
Both Berger and Bordo discuss the importance of the gaze, whether in a fifteenth century painting or a Calvin Klein underwear advertisement. Gazing can refer to the person who is looking at the image and it can refer to the image or item that is being gazed upon. The gaze can also describe the look on the model’s face. Berger argues that males gaze and females are gazed at, while Bordo’s work explains that the tables have turned and females are now able to gaze at males. Since 1995, male modeling has become more popular. Women may now gaze at men. Bordo understands this was not acceptable in the past or even is not acceptable in the present, “men are not supposed to enjoy being surveyed period. It’s feminine to be on display” (193). Bordo concludes that it is not only the physical gaze from others that is influential but also the, “watchful cultural gaze which always has its eye on our thighs” (192), that affects our lifestyles. Bordo uses an example from a philosopher, Simon de Beauvoir, who stated, “the gaze (or the Look, as he called it) of another person—including the gaze of one’s lover—is the ‘hell’ that other people represent” (192). The discussion of the gaze also brings up the topic... [continues]
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