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Beauty Standard and Gender, Research Paper Example

Pages: 9

Words: 2346

Research Paper

Overview of the Issue of Concern

Gender inequality refers to the unequal perception or treatment of people based on their gender, and it has always been a big social issue globally. Historically, women were perceived as a weaker gender, and they were expected to do house chores, look after children and look beautiful for their husbands. Men had the responsibility of providing for their families. In the current day society, the issue of gender inequality has reduced significantly because women can also take up some of the professions traditionally perceived as male fields. Nonetheless, despite women being better in the current day society, women are still struggling with various forms of inequality in today’s world. Society’s beauty expectations towards women are still demeaning. There are numerous stereotypes regarding the physical appearances of women. Gender expectations surrounding appearances vary significantly based on the workplace, sport, or other events. Nonetheless, women always go through more scrutiny than men about beauty standards despite the environment.

Why I chose the Topic

Society always sets unrealistic beauty standards for women, and then it makes them feel as if their appearances are some form of currency. Consequently, in instances where women cannot meet the unrealistic beauty standards set by society, they spend so much time worrying about what society thinks about them. For instance, some women can spend time worrying about how their skincare regime is not meeting their expectations, the state of their arms or thighs, how to get money for the latest makeup kits or clothes, and other such aspects. That time could be spent in more realistic aspects such as education, meeting their career or relationship goals, or other more resourceful aspects. In addition, some of the societal expectations are not realistic because people compare their spouses, neighbors, colleagues, and other women in their lives to the models they see on magazines, billboards, or other media platforms. Nonetheless, this is not realistic because there is a significant amount of airbrushing and photoshopping, which these women go through before getting such looks. Some of these photos get edited with sophisticated software, and they end up looking very distinct from their natural looks. Nonetheless, these images tend to create modern beauty standards, which have both direct and indirect ways of pushing women to meet all these aspects.

Society has created the optimal appearances of women to be characterized by a bigger hip-to-waist ratio, which tends to create what is commonly referred to as an hourglass shape. Moreover, society expects women to have an averagely big butt and not excess body fat. That is in addition to dressing in classy outfits, having high-quality and well-done makeup, and walking elegantly. However, the societal expectation for women to have a perfect appearance can be stressful, as they spend too much time and resources trying to meet the unrealistic expectation.

Literature Review

According to Chen et al. (2020), various regions in the world have different beauty expectations, all commonly based on a westernized point of view. For instance, in Asia, the beauty expectations for women are mainly linked to the European colonization of the region. Ideally, in Asia, women are expected to have a European figure, having light skin, slim, and relatively tall. Consequently, many women are often skin lightening to enhance their beauty, to meet societal expectations. Advertisers commonly portray an ideal skin color as white, shiny, and smooth. Chen et al. (2020) further explain that society commonly perpetuates the fairer women to be more successful and beautiful than women with darker complexions traditionally, darker skin is commonly connected to lower-income classes because peasants often had tanner skins as a result of hard labor in the fields. In the Middle East, people with white skin are highly regarded in society, and it can easily help one secure a job. On the other hand, individuals with darker skins are often perceived as inferior, ugly, and other degrading and harmful perceptions. In the eastern Asia region, women with big eyes are perceived as more attractive since it is commonly connected to baby mammals. In Korea, there are several instances of eyelid surgery, which help create a perception that people with bigger eyelids are more beautiful than others. Chen et al. (2020) explain that almost 50% of women in Korea go through eyelid surgery in their twenties, intending to meet the societal expectations of beauty. For the dress code, some women feel that the hijab is also a means of demeaning women, though most of the people who wear them argue it is out of their own will.

The article is well comprehensive on how Asia perceives women’s beauty standards, particularly by the lighter one being seen as more beautiful. Moreover, Asia being the largest continent, the scholars splitting the study into various parts of the continent is crucial, as it helps better understand the general aspect of beauty standards for women. Scholars can find out the repercussions of beauty standards in Asia for future research in detail. Giving more statistical values on the women going through bias in the region due to their skin tone will benefit scholars to better understand the whole situation.

Di Gesto et al. (2021) explains that women commonly compare their appearances with online images of friends, celebrities, and other individuals. Unlike the conventional media environment, people mainly rely on screen time and mainly social media platforms for content in today’s society. Instagram, a social media platform where people mainly post their images, has made most people commonly go for cosmetic surgery to meet the social expectations of beauty. There are about 100 million photos uploaded daily on the platform, which has a huge impact on body image (Di Gesto et al., 2021). Out of a study comprising 305 Italian women with a mean age of 23 years, the scholars concluded that Instagram images have a huge significance on how females perceive themselves. Nonetheless, this is not considering the use of filters and other editing applications that an individual can use to get a perfect shape. Consequently, most of these women, often in their early twenties, feel that surgeries are the only way of getting appearances fit for the societal perspective. Therefore, most people who end up doing cosmetic surgeries are always influenced by psychological aspects.

The study has comprehensively explained how the idealized beauty aspects portrayed through social media platforms, mainly Instagram, influence ladies to undergo cosmetic surgery. However, it would have been more comprehensive if the scholars had explained the other factors that make people go for cosmetic surgery after using Instagram. Not all people who use Instagram end up having the operations. For instance, some individuals can be influenced by failures, their perception of personal inadequacies, and other difficulties. Moreover, the study should have also commented on how Instagram posts also help make women accept their physical appearances. Not all Instagram posts are about idealized beauty standards because some individuals and organizations also use the platform to urge people to embrace their physical attributes.

According to the article by Neville-Shepard (2019), society commonly problematizes women’s bodies, which is aimed at manifesting the grounds to regulate female attires. There are numerous rational arguments about the consequences of creating idealistic beauty standards for women in society. The beliefs are mainly caused by people expecting women to dress in a certain way to be termed as modest, but at the same time, for them to present their feminine attributes. Some cultures and individuals are very misogynistic in that they are only focused on frustrating, which explains why they use beauty standards as a frustrating aspect. Some societies punish women for not adhering to certain societal expectations. Some individuals blame women after rape allegations either due to their dress codes or, in some instances, even physical appearances. The bodily policing, victim-blaming and other consequential transference based on dress codes are aspects that show the inequality gap still exists in our societies.

The article is well researched by covering news coverage in more than five years. In addition, it gives a comprehensive rhetoric analysis that aims at favoring school dress code policies on the argument of meeting women’s beauty standards. Therefore, it could be important that the article also explains why men also need dress codes, not only making it look like a woman issue.

Furthermore, Wang et al. (2021) explain that society has placed a beauty ideology amongst women, which results in some making plastic surgeries and other extensive investments to meet the social expectations. Beauty is commonly perceived as a currency because women who meet the social expectations of beauty often have better career aspirations. In this study, 404 young Chinese women participated in questionnaires on evaluating beauty as a currency. These studies show that young women often do body surveillance and self-objectification to compare their appearances with societal expectations.

The scholars have comprehensively explained the ideologies of women in the current society. Beauty is often used as a currency, where women who meet some of the idealized standards end up getting high-end jobs, wealthy husbands, and other fortunes in life due to their looks. On the other hand, the ones not meeting society’s expectations have to work their way up the ladder, considering the discrimination and other hardships women go through in life. In all this, scholars need to explain why women should embrace their looks and not necessarily go for cosmetic surgeries due to societal pressure.

Peng (2021) explains that the development of beauty applications is crucial in the techno-feminist world. In this study, six women and four women gave their opinions regarding BeautyCam, a common beauty app that is often used to enhance the looks of individual photos. From the study, these applications give women a sense of empowerment, which facilitates the inclusion of women in the high-tech industry. Additionally, the scholar explains that there is no challenge to an individual’s status quo after using the beauty app. People can use various beauty applications to edit various aspects of their bodies, such as higher cheekbones, longer legs, whiter teeth, lighter complexion, and many other features. Considering the extensive use of social media in today’s world, for instance, for marketing, entertainment, and vent keeping up with society, the popularity of beauty apps is crucial for women to manage their postings on social media. The applications promote the confidence and pleasure women get as they use the online applications for personal use. There are more than 40 million users of BeautyCam, with about 70% being women. Technological advancement is crucial in the evolvement of neoliberal subjectivity on feminism.

In this article, the scholars have explained how beauty apps act as modern-day virtual makeup tools, which women use for digital monitoring and modifying of their looks. In this study, the scholars explain that the apps are a strategy for helping women improve their confidence. However, it only does for digital images, but the individual’s real physical characters do not change.

Khoo (2019) explains that despite the high levels of scrutiny that women go through due to the beauty standards set by society, some females are strong enough to resist these ideas through their talks. The extreme ideas set by society make some girls grow up focusing more on their appearances instead of working to have better characters and personalities. Nonetheless, some women are trying to change the culture and embrace women for their personalities, not necessarily by their physical attributes. In this study, Khoo (2019) conducted a discourse analysis on interviews of 42 women from the UK, Malaysia, and Singapore. Making sense of the pressure that arises from beauty ideals for women is quite complex, and people use contradictory strategies in dealing with these standards. Women’s assertions to show they are confident in their physical appearances is a show of confidence. Such individuals are commonly termed postfeminists and neoliberal. Nonetheless, it is crucial to overcome the beauty oppression from society. These unrealistic ideas will help young ladies gain bodily contentment and thus elude the systemic inequalities that create and sustain such pressures. Moreover, some women with class privileges, cultural capital, and resources also talk to other women to encourage them to embrace their womanhood and not be influenced by societal expectations.

The article by Khoo (2019) is highly significant in this study because it helps society overcome the pressure that women face due to the beauty ideals set by society. The study has explained how some women use their resources and privileges t encourage others to accept their body shapes and physical appearances. These strategies are more effective than cosmetic surgeries or beauty apps because they help women focus more on their characters and career or education goals, not necessarily on beauty standards.

Conclusion

Society has set unrealistic beauty standards for women, creating excessive pressure on their day-to-day lives. Women go through more extreme appearance expectations compared to men. They always need to look neat and have ideal skin tones, eye sizes, hair color, and other aspects. To meet the expectations, some women are always on makeup, use Beauty applications before posting on social media, and in some instances, go for cosmetic surgeries. Moreover, women often spend significant money on clothes, shoes, and makeup tools. The time and resources could be used in more important aspects for the development of women. Therefore, society should encourage women to embrace their physical appearance and work more on their characters.

References

Chen, T., Lian, K., Lorenzana, D., Shahzad, N., & Wong, R. (2020). Occidentalisation of Beauty Standards: Eurocentrism in Asia. International Socioeconomics Laboratory1(2), 1-11. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4325856

Di Gesto, C., Nerini, A., Policardo, G. R., & Matera, C. (2021). Predictors of acceptance of cosmetic surgery: Instagram images-based activities, appearance comparison and body dissatisfaction among women. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 1-11. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00266-021-02546-3

Khoo, J. (2019). Resisting Beauty? Examining How Women Negotiate and Respond to Contemporary Beauty Ideals (Doctoral dissertation, University of York). https://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/28898/1/Khoo_029102835_ThesisFinal.pdf

Neville-Shepard, M. (2019). Disciplining the female student body: Consequential transference in arguments for school dress codes. Women’s Studies in Communication42(1), 1-20. doi.org/10.1080/07491409.2019.1573771

Peng, A. Y. (2021). A techno-feminist analysis of beauty-application development in China’s high-tech industry. Journal of Gender Studies, 1-13. doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2021.1929091

Wang, W., Zheng, X., Yue, X., & Zhong, N. (2021). The role of beauty as currency belief in acceptance of cosmetic surgery and career aspirations among Chinese young women. The Journal of Social Psychology161(3), 351-362. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.2020.1842314

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