Femininity And The Bitch: Movie Analysis

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Traditionally, femininity is associated with a particular set of personality traits and behaviours, which are deemed acceptable for women to perform by the most influential institutions of the dominant culture. The teen makeover movie is a visual medium that reinforces these expectations through the types of female characters they present. Gender stereotypes reveal a distinct correlation between performances of idealized femininity and the distribution of female power in their high school community. Heathers (1988), Clueless (1995), and Mean Girls (2004), despite having been released decades apart from one another, use similar makeover tropes to reveal trends in the use of makeover transformation that demonstrate how idealized vision of femininity …show more content…
These are the popular in-crowd who epitomize traditional femininity with their perfect hair, skin, and rich tastes, and the unpopular nobodies who fails to conform to social beauty standards in one way or another. Through the course each film, the protagonist often infiltrates or becomes absorbed in the hierarchy of 'Girl World ' (as Mean Girls names it), which challenges the power of the girl who previously performed femininity most flawlessly. The antagonist(s) of these films are always comprised of several girls who represent a female idealization that other women desire, and yet cannot achieve. These female characters tend to become the villain, the Bitches, who “tend to belong to a pack, or gang of three or four members, which emphasizes their threat towards the makeover protagonist who must prevail against the group in order to demonstrate that she is of a more worthy version of femininity” (Marston 87). In Heathers, the most beautiful and popular girls in school are “The Heathers,” three beautiful and upper class girls who share the same name and who rule the school. Veronica Sawyer, a 'nobody ' who feels alienated by her peers, seeks to infiltrate the popular clique …show more content…
Karen, Gretchen, and Regina in Mean Girls are the most popular girls in school, but their popularity and unstoppable power hinges on their performance of femininity. The requirement to perform properly is latent in the sense that it is even necessary within the context of their own social group. Failure to conform and construct feminine performances to meet the expectations of the dominant culture, including even small offenses such as wearing one 's hair in a ponytail or jeans instead of a skirt more than once in a week, means exclusion from the inner circle. When looking at her own behavior, Cady realizes that the only reason she seemed like a bitch to a viewer outside is because she is “acting like a bitch” (Mean Girls). In this comment, Cady directly acknowledges the extent to which the identity she is currently performing is quite literally a performance. However, transformation also does not only function in one direction. In Heathers “one of the aggressors [Veronica] quickly transforms into a victim and back into an aggressor in order to fight back against the cruelty of her friends” (266). In an assessment of how meaningful access to the inner circle is for the Bitch Clique, Kate Marston notes that “Adolescents in the teen makeover film are marked as future citizens with the high school acting as a correctional space where

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