Where and How Did the Beauty Myth Originate?

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  • Topic: Magazine, Cosmetics, Elle
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  • Published : April 8, 2008
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Where and how did the "beauty myth" originate?

Women cannot find strong role models in today's society without getting a false impression. Too often the role models are of women of unrealistic beauty. Take for instance the big screen: a bunch of long legged, skinny, women with flawless faces, voluptuous breasts, and not a spec of cellulite. All of the "model" women in the media seem to have "perfect lives"; their biggest catastrophe being where to put the indoor tennis court, or the indecisiveness of what to wear to the Golden Globe Awards . Finding role models on the glossy pages of magazines and posters has become even more prominent. Gazing at these "role models" has become an act in which shapes the way women look and feel about themselves in today's beauty conscious society. American women base their lives on a myth, a beauty myth, which impairs their self-image and distorts their views regarding their peers, unlike their male counterparts who are not affected by such a myth. "Men look at Women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only the relations of men to women, but the relation of women to themselves." Critic John Berger's quote has been true now more than ever in regards to women's self-image in Western culture. Men see male fashion models, but do not see them as role models, mearly as men displaying clothing fashions. They don't depict the model of their own gender, because they simply don't see them as someone whom they can look up to or use as a guideline, and certainly not as the model American male. Whereas, women see a female fashion model and immediately turn her into the guideline of what every American woman should look like. This, among many other places is the origin of the myth. In order for our culture to be kept male, males put women into the roles of ornamentation and are mere beauties in their eyes. No wonder women feel they need to live up to a certain expectations…or at least in the eye of the male. America stereotypes women to fit the myth by suggesting that they either have beauty or intelligence, but cannot have both. An example of this is Katherine and Bianca in Taming of the Shrew . Katherine was depicted as being highly intelligent, yet physically unattractive. Bianca was viewed as a human art form, with not nearly as much brainpower as her sister, Kat. Bianca attracts men for her beauty and her sex appeal; whereas Katherine's personality and intelligence is viewed as a barrier from being desirable to suitors. Blanch and Dorothy , in the Golden Girls , is yet another example of beauty being more desirable than brains. Two women, one is defined as the winner, and one as the loser in the beauty myth. When women think about the myth, it is the models in women's magazines that make them susceptible to the heroines of mass culture. The message delivered to women in these magazines tells us that we need to look like this, and shop here if we want to be a certain way. The message even reaches as far out to say that after reading this story, women can be better, more beautiful, starting now. It makes us want to throw away our old clothes, seek out a new job, buy every beauty product featured in the magazine, dump the boyfriend and tape the bathing suited beauty spokes model to the refrigerator. Magazines know exactly what they want, and just how to get it. In order to keep its readers interested in the magazine, most magazines insist on a woman keeping her "feminine quotient" high. This lure would insure magazines that women would not liberate themselves out of reading their material. Although magazines do reflect historical change, they need to be sure to support the social roles of the women who support it. Magazines are seemingly the most influential aides in helping women to change their social roles as well as deliver what society expects of them in return. In the 1950's , when the majority of women were housewives, they looked to magazines as an escape....
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