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The answer to sexism is gender neutrality, not more sexism.   Share:  
Thrust of argument: Elisia Puvia writes:

"Even though over time Western beauty ideals have shown marked variability, from the slender and flat-breasted feminine ideals to the curvaceously thin beauty icons (Harrison, 2003), they always represent a non-realistic female body image. Nonetheless, this beauty ideal gets encouraged consistently by the media, and is taken by most women as a point of reference in their efforts to improve their bodies and their looks.

The extent to which a woman's appearance approximates the ideal beauty standard is generally taken as a criterion to assess her attractiveness. Remarkably, most research studying the impact of these standards of female beauty only focused on concerns that are related to weight and body shape, disregarding the arguably most important physical feature in defining beauty, that is, a person's face. The face is the first visible source of information in every day interpersonal encounters; moreover, enhancing facial attractiveness through the use of cosmetic products is a relatively easy goal for most women to attain. Makeup is one of the most popular tools used by women to enhance their facial attractiveness: There is a wide range of products advertised to enhance facial characteristics (e.g., foundation, blusher, powder, covering stick, mascara, eye shadow, eye-liner, lipstick, lip liner, lip gloss). Each of these products allow women to hide their imperfections, artificially enlarge the appearance of their eyes and lips, make their skin of an appropriate tone and texture, in other words make their face look younger, healthier and more attractive.

Between cultures and over time, beauty has always been considered an important value. Although there is a widespread agreement regarding the value of beauty per se, it is possible to introduce different hypotheses regarding its role and its social meaning and the specific contribution that makeup makes in shaping it.

According to evolutionary psychology (Fink & Neave, 2005), beauty standards are innate; although they may vary between cultures and over time, members of different ethnic groups share common standards to define attractiveness. These standards provide information about a woman's reproductive potential, better represented by waist-to-hip ratio. However, also features of the human face determine what is beautiful and reflect universal biological selection pressures that have shaped these standards. According to these theories, a smooth and hairless skin in women are the most universally desired features (because of their association with feminine hormones), slightly reddish skin (indicating good blood circulation) is considered attractive and healthy, as well as the luminance of certain facial features in particular of the eyes. A central feature in the lower face is a woman's lips: when they are full and well defined they give a sense of health and attractiveness. The most often used color for lipstick is likely red; it signals both good blood circulation and is linked with increased emotional arousal and sexual excitement (Morris, 2004). It is easy to note that each of these features can be enhanced by cosmetic products. From an evolutionary point of view, then, the beauty of a female face is biologically determined and the cosmetic industry taps into this by enhancing facial features making them resemble more closely to those qualities that are universally considered signals of beauty and attractiveness.

Another hypothesis starts from the premise that beauty is socially constructed. From this perspective "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", reflecting cultural conventions. In contrast to the evolutionary perspective, feminist scholars have offered a very different explanation for the motivation behind the cultural emphasis on beauty, and thus, the role of makeup in shaping it. They proposed that beauty standards and practices are vehicles for the oppression of women, sign women's inferior status and determine their differences from men. The processes through which beauty ideals oppress women are complex and multifaceted; in the literature this process is known as the BIO hypothesis an acronym for 'Beauty Ideals are Oppressive' (Forbes et al., 2007). The BIO hypothesis has important implications because it underlines the social meaning and function of beauty inquiring the social purpose it serves. Among others, one possibility is that western beauty demands, shift social awareness from women's competencies to superficial aspects of their appearance, undermine women's self- confidence, dissipate their time, and their emotional and economic resources. In line with this claim, recently Swami and colleagues (2010) have showed that media exposure predicted women's cosmetic use and men's perceived need for women to use it.

Within the feminist framework, Bartky in her influential work, "Femininity and Domination" (1990), provides an in deep analysis about the role and significance of makeup use and practices. As she notes one of the most popular and pervasive claims publicized by fashion magazines and ads is that "making up is an aesthetic activity in which a woman can express her individuality"(Bartky, 1990, pag.71). According to Bartky, there is a difference between painting the face and painting a picture, in the first case we are confronted with the same picture over and over again with the possibility to apply only minor variations. Moreover, a woman who decides to express her personality in a genuine, novel and imaginative way is liable to be seen, not as an artist, but as eccentric. Every woman knows that little is permitted in what is considered appropriate makeup at work, for a night out or for some special social occasion. Furthermore, application of makeup is for the most a task that needs effort, discipline and specialized knowledge regarding the correct use of application that a woman must learn in order to manage a wide variety of products. All these duties and abilities regard only women not men, who are not stigmatized if they decide to just follow the ordinary standards of hygiene.

Finally, there is a third way to consider the role of makeup and the significance that it serves. We have noted above that makeup is advertised as an art, but rather then the art to express our personal inclinations, the application of makeup very often is the art to hide a myriad of deficiencies. In other words, makeup may be considered the quintessential art to disguise. Robertson, Fieldman and Hussey (2008), have proposed that makeup might be used as a mask, able to manipulate facial features in order to present one's own positive image to others. They investigated how different personality traits could affect cosmetic use. The aim was to understand the psychological motivations behind cosmetics use. In a correlational study only female participants answered questionnaires regarding different personality traits and their cosmetic use. Results showed that the use of makeup was positively correlated with traits as self-presentation, conformity, self-awareness and introversion, and negatively correlated with social confidence, emotional stability, self-esteem and physical attractiveness. According to the authors, the former group of traits denotes a person's awareness of and interest in their physical presentation and the following desire to manipulate it according to an image that is less individual and more conformant to social preferences and expectations. Makeup, then, would be a de-personalizing mask that women can use to manipulate and promote their desired, public image."
Direction of resistance / implied resistance: I'm going to read and re-read that item a few times before I start expounding. Maybe you should try to do the same: ie read it, properly, repeatedly, understand what Puvia is saying, check the pdf below and read the whole thesis.

 

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Removal of resistance: Elisia Puvia has provided other research I have cited also, which is very very interesting and also worth reading. Unification: Problems relating to sexism are hard to fix without first detaching yourself from the sexualization, thus 'celebrity' feminists fail to do it 100%, as the media requires that they present themselves as sex objects of one form or other, soft or hard, direct or indirect. Never can they be celebrity and 'unfuckable'. That is part of the way the media works. Sex is a thing to be revered, the media feels. A sexual element must be ever-present. And so they fail outright to protect their brightest and best from becoming just more bricks in the wall free people need to knock down.
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(TVhobo's estimated size of readership since 2013, mainly in the UK and USA, with Germany in third place:
over 200,000 readers across approximately 200 cities/towns

 

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Type: Open statement

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References:

http://paduaresearch.cab.unipd.it/3812/1/ElisaPuvia_PhD_thesis.pdf
http://pwq.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/04/16/0361684313485718.abstract

 

 

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Click here to read about Shams Pirani, the editor and chief author on this grid - note, if you can actually prove anything written above wrong, I would gladly, if the proof is sufficient, correct what I've written and what I think - if I could, however, prove your attempted proof wrong, then I would accordingly say so and maintain whatever point of view is completely based on fact and proof.