Feminine Beauty Essay Research Paper When defining

Feminine Beauty Essay, Research Paper

When defining Feminine beauty one must decide in which time

to define it. At certain times women have felt repressed

by the term, usually due to the beauty business’

influence; while at other times Women have found it

liberatory: finding it their bonus as females but not their

only power. One will also find that a correlation exists

between the women’s movement, or lack there of,

and society’s feelings about woman and their aesthetic


A woman’s beauty during the 1910s and early 1920’s was not an

aspect of one’s life to be contemplated heavily. Woman pre 19th amendment were

more concerned with gaining recognition of their equality then how they

looked. Woman felt beauty came from with in and was not a product one could

buy. Attractiveness was being strong and powerful: ” In the late 1910’s and

early 1920’s female athletes began to ellipse movie starts as the nations

beauty archetypes” (Faludi 204)

This seems due to the Women’s movement’s influence at the time. Yet when

the late 1920s are analyzed one sees a different occurrence. After women

achieved the vote in 1920 women, it seems, felt they were equal and were able

to be what ever they chose. If they wanted to make them selves up they could.

if they wanted to work, or stay home, or anything else they could.

“Flapper Jane”, the ideal figure of the 1920s, is the object of

constant analysis. “She is, for one thing a very pretty girl. Beauty is the

fashion in 1925″ (Flapper Jane, 65). When Reading Flapper Jane one gets a

sense that “Jane” felt that she was equal and her beauty was just something

that she did and not something that did her:” Women still want to be loved,…

But they want it to be on a 50 / 50 basis which includes being admired for the

qualities they possess” (Flapper Jane, 67). In the case of the Flapper and the

1920s beauty was not oppressive:

“In fact Jane says, ” That women today are shaking of their old

servitude”…” If they want to wear their heads shaven, as a symbol of

defiance against the former fate which foe three millennia forced them

to dress their heavy locks in according to male decrees, they will have

their way…Hurrah! Hurrah!” (Flapper Jane, 67)

Post World War II1 saw women being oppressed by the

beauty industry. Women were subject to what society

determined as beautiful. Exquisite movie stars who were

curvy and charming, with pale skin, frosted hair, and a

seemingly grand lifestyle were the ideal.

” Beauty publicists instructed women to inflate

their breasts with padding or silicone, to frost

their hair with carcinogenic dyes, to make

themselves look paler by whitening their face and

lips with titanium-to emulate in short, that most

bleached medicalized glamour girl of them all,

Marilyn Monroe” (Faludi, 204)

They were pressured to be beautiful at the sake of their

health. This is what we might call a backlash. The women’s

movement it should be noted at this time was almost none

existent. Betty Friedan’s “Problem That Has No Name”

describes what women were feed as what should be done and

how to do it:

” Over and Over Women heard in voices of

tradition and Freudian sophistication that they

could desire no greater destiny then to glory in

their own femininity. Experts told them how to

catch a man and keep him, … how to dress, look,

and act more feminine and make marriage more


In 1968 Woman protested the idea of themselves as

sex objects. In Atlantic City women demonstrated against

the 1968 Miss America Pageant.

“[It} was the first major action of the current

woman’s movement” ..” we were affirming our mutual

feeling of outrage, hope, and readiness to conquer

the world. We also all felt, well grown up: we were

doing this one for ourselves, not for our men, and we

were consequently getting to do those things the men

never let us do, like talking to the press or

dealing with the mayor’s office. (Morgan, 62)

This whole event has been made out to be more anti

beauty then it truly was. The women who protested the event

were not against the women participating, in fact the

protesters proclaimed solidarity with the contestants. The

Women’s Liberation Movement chose the Miss America Pageant

because it represent to them all the things wrong with

society and how it deals with women:

” The contestants epitomize the role all women had to

play in this society, one way or the other:

apolitical, unoffending, passive delicate(but

drudgery-delighted) things” (Morgan, 64)

This pageant was the beginning of the bouncing back of

the women’s movement and thus beauty being once again


The women’s movement became a very prominent aspect

of the 1970s. Woman no longer subjected themselves to those

health hazardous beauty regiments. in the 1970’s the beauty

industry felt that if they were going to make any profits

they had to find away to celebrate this new feeling of

power woman had.

In the winter of 1973 , Charles Revson called a

high – level meeting of Revlon executives. He had a

revolutionary concept he told them : a fragrance that

celebrated woman’s liberation.”

The fragrance now know as Charlie was the product of

several months of interviewing woman about what they wanted

in a perfume.

“”Charlie symbolized that new lifestyle.” Revlon

executive vice president Lawrence Wechsler recalls, ”

that said you can be anything you want to be , you

can do anything you want to do, with out any

criticism being directed at you. If you want to wear

a pantsuits at the office instead of a skirt, fine”"

(Faludi 205)

Immediately Following this period of resurgence again

we see a regression in the 1980’s. I don’t know why this

keeps happening maybe it’s cyclical nature of time, but

once again women are repressed by beauty and sex appeal.

The 1980’s saw the start of a plastic surgery craze. Women

were trying all sorts of measures to be the sexy,

beautiful, thin , and presumably happy women they saw in

advertisements. “Now you can be yourself you don’t have to

be a powerhouse.” (Faludi 201), this is what a mannequin

designer Filoso believes is what life is about for woman,

he considers this” a big improvement over the ’70’s, when

women “didn’t care” about their appearance. Now they not

only care feel that they can be and look like anything or

anyone they want: “Today, woman can look at a beautiful

mannequin in a store and say” I want to look like her” and

they can actually can! They can go to their doctor and

say,’ Doc, I want I want these cheek bones.’ ‘Doc I want

these breasts.’ The question to me is do you actually want

to look like a mannequin or yourself.

By this point one should see how Feminine beauty is

subjective to the time to which you are referring. I think

that the ’90s are part repressive, due to the need to feel

beautiful and thin at almost any cost,but are also in

terms of beauty. Women not only believe that they can do

and be anything they know it. And the beauty industry has

seen the American women as a group of very different

individuals. We, woman, as a whole are doing our thing and

are in liberation we are sexy smart and in the end the

makers of our ideal and not the subjects of one.


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