Response Body Work

Topics: Woman, Gender, Female, Advertising, Body shape, Gender role / Pages: 5 (1203 words) / Published: Sep 15th, 2015
Response to: Body Work: Beauty and Self-Image in American Culture In her book, Body Work: Beauty and Self-Image in American Culture, Debra Gimlin focuses specifically on how the bodies of women are turned into projects in which the goal is to attain the ideals of beauty. The most important point that she makes is that, “Contemporary ideals of female beauty – and the work required to become beautiful – have long-lasting and devastating effects on women” (16). Despite contemporary beauty standards being detrimental to personal health, they also produce conflictions between race, class, ethnicity, and gender. In the first chapter, Gimlin focuses on mostly on how (white) hairdressers/hairstylists have a difficult time attempting to plunge out …show more content…
Her study revolved around an extensive ethnographic research project, where she observed the way people functioned in aerobics classes and why they acted or thought the way they did. Besides observing, she also interviewed several people to understand why they were taking the aerobics class and what they thought of their bodies. In a peculiar way, many of the women were participating in aerobics because they felt like “their bodies changed in ways that they could not control and with which they did not feel comfortable” (58). Many of the women claimed that not only did they not feel “fit” or beautiful”, but also how family members and acquaintances constantly reminded them of their physical imperfections. Besides being pressured to improve their weight, many women recognized that the males in their family or the males that they knew in general were rarely or never directed to “diet” because it’s a “female thing” (59). While Gimlin describes her findings and the attitudes of the aerobics participants, it is implicitly evident that aerobics does not necessarily diverge a woman’s thoughts to their personal inner qualities, but rather, to their physical …show more content…
For example, if all women were comfortable with their bodies or how their hair naturally looks on a daily basis, then there would be no need for cosmetic surgeons, or aerobics instructors, or the over 700,000 workers in beauty and cosmetic care. Hairdressers and other professions, which primarily focus on enhancing beauty for a living, would be useless. The whole point of their occupation is to provide security of beauty at least in regards to the hair, which is considered by many to be a woman’s most valuable physical feature. If most women did not lack self-esteem and confidence in the way they look compared to the way a regular model or a “beautiful” person looks, then there would be no use for commercial models and advertisement. If everyone truly believed that they are physically perfect, then society would be left with an astonishingly monotonous community where everyone thinks the same, acts the same, and hold close to the same professional positions because the need for skillful people like hairstylists would not be needed. Generally speaking, if beauty ideals did not exist, then the need for cosmetic care and beauty products would be unnecessary, cancelling out of one of the major parts that help in the fuelin g of our

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