The Beauty Myth Essay

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The beauty myth is an unreachable ideal of female beauty that suppresses women and, as Kimmel and Holler (2011) explain, “uses images of female beauty as a political weapon against women’s advancement” (324). It creates an “Iron Maiden” - a cage that forces females to focus on cosmetics, beauty aids, and exercise fanaticism to become ideal female (324). This beauty myth then portrays women as objects whose worth comes from the beholder: the male gaze. This was first used by Laura Mulvey in film studies, but is now used in sociology to explain how people (of all genders and sexual orientations) look at women in the way a desiring heterosexual male would look to assess women’s sexual desirability, and it portrays women as sexual objects. Even women see themselves in this way, becoming the best judges of the male gaze to master the scale on which they are …show more content…
In this way, women enhance their beauty by learning self-objection in the name of self-improvement, to reach the ultimate female achievement that is the beauty myth (324). The standards of the beauty myth vary from culture to culture, but in North America, women are most concerned about weight and breast size. Because the beauty myth specifies what is beautiful and what is not, many people face consequences as a result of the myth. Many people are labelled “ugly” because they don 't fit into the fundamental requirements of the beauty myth: a white, thin, able-bodied woman. This isolates racialized women, disabled women, heavier women, and older women. Even a women with the aforementioned characteristics will face consequences because no one can ever reach the beauty myth. The unattainability encourages some women to undergo plastic surgery, join weight-loss programs, or use questionable products to improve their body image. Women are not the only group of people who are affected by the beauty myth or the male gaze, as men, too, are held up to unattainable standards of

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