In society, there is always a changing view of how women should look which differs throughout every society. Every generation has had a specific idea of what a woman should look like, act like, etc. Regardless of this idea though, I believe that women are beautiful in their uniqueness, but society as a whole tends to disagree with my opinion.
The work by Sperry and Grauerholz, The Pervasiveness and Persistence of the Feminine Beauty Ideal in Children’s Fairy Tales, describes the ideal view of feminine beauty and how it is embodied in children’s fairy tales. Culture has used fairy tales to assimilate children for many centuries to make sure society works the way we want it to. The majority of fairy tales consist of the young, beautiful women who is usually helpless, while men are handsome at all ages, with great masculinity. The most beautiful women in these fairy tales also happen to be white, privileged, and virginal. In these fairy tales, these women live idyllic lives, marrying the most handsome men, being monetarily well off, and continuously reaping the rewards thrown at them. This causes the children hearing these stories to grow up, with these fairy tale role models, we expect the same from ourselves.
Another aspect of society’s media’s representation of women is described by Connell in Fashionable Resistance: Queer “Fa(t)shion” Blogging as Counterdiscourse as being shown through fashion blogs. The abundance of fashion blogs that focus on what society believes is the outcast subset, such as fat fashion- ‘fatshion’, while claiming a feminine gender identity or expression. Connell points out that there is little-to-no representation for women which doesn’t fit the description of society’s ideal woman, even though this idea is constantly changing throughout the decades.
In Steinem’s work, If Men Could Mesntruate, it is stated that, “[Men] would insist that women are equal, just different, and that any woman could enter their ranks if she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every month… recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her self-ness to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment” (Steinem 1). Through this quote, Steinem demonstrates that if an experience, like a woman’s menstrual cycle, occurred to a man, society would do the opposite of what they do to women and make it seem like a natural occurrence, in which men should be revered or applauded for having to go through such an ordeal.
Connell, C. (2012). Fashionable Resistance: Queer “Fa(t)shion” Blogging as Counterdiscourse. Women’s Studies Quarterly, 41, 209-224.
Sperry, L. Grauerholz, L. (2003). The Pervasiveness and Persistence of the Feminine Beauty Ideal in Children’s Fairy Tales. Gender and Society, 17;5(711-726).
Steinem, G. (1978). If Men Could Menstruate. Ms. Magazine.