Feminine Beauty

When defining Feminine beauty one must decide in which time
to define it. At certain times women have felt repressed
by the term, usually due to the beauty business’
influence; while at other times Women have found it
liberatory: finding it their bonus as females but not their
only power. One will also find that a correlation exists
between the women’s movement, or lack there of,
and society’s feelings about woman and their aesthetic
appearance.

A woman’s beauty during the 1910s and early 1920’s was not an
aspect of one’s life to be contemplated heavily. Woman pre 19th amendment were
more concerned with gaining recognition of their equality then how they
looked. Woman felt beauty came from with in and was not a product one could
buy. Attractiveness was being strong and powerful: In the late 1910’s and
early 1920’s female athletes began to ellipse movie starts as the nations
beauty archetypes (Faludi 204)
This seems due to the Women’s movement’s influence at the time. Yet when
the late 1920s are analyzed one sees a different occurrence. After women
achieved the vote in 1920 women, it seems, felt they were equal and were able
to be what ever they chose. If they wanted to make them selves up they could.

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if they wanted to work, or stay home, or anything else they could.

Flapper Jane, the ideal figure of the 1920s, is the object of
constant analysis. She is, for one thing a very pretty girl. Beauty is the
fashion in 1925 (Flapper Jane, 65). When Reading Flapper Jane one gets a
sense that Jane felt that she was equal and her beauty was just something
that she did and not something that did her: Women still want to be loved,…

But they want it to be on a 50 / 50 basis which includes being admired for the
qualities they possess (Flapper Jane, 67). In the case of the Flapper and the
1920s beauty was not oppressive:
In fact Jane says, That women today are shaking of their old
servitude… If they want to wear their heads shaven, as a symbol of
defiance against the former fate which foe three millennia forced them
to dress their heavy locks in according to male decrees, they will have
their way…Hurrah! Hurrah! (Flapper Jane, 67)
Post World War II1 saw women being oppressed by the
beauty industry. Women were subject to what society
determined as beautiful. Exquisite movie stars who were
curvy and charming, with pale skin, frosted hair, and a
seemingly grand lifestyle were the ideal.

Beauty publicists instructed women to inflate
their breasts with padding or silicone, to frost
their hair with carcinogenic dyes, to make
themselves look paler by whitening their face and
lips with titanium-to emulate in short, that most
bleached medicalized glamour girl of them all,
Marilyn Monroe (Faludi, 204)
They were pressured to be beautiful at the sake of their
health. This is what we might call a backlash. The women’s
movement it should be noted at this time was almost none
existent. Betty Friedan’s Problem That Has No Name
describes what women were feed as what should be done and
how to do it:
Over and Over Women heard in voices of
tradition and Freudian sophistication that they
could desire no greater destiny then to glory in
their own femininity. Experts told them how to
catch a man and keep him, … how to dress, look,
and act more feminine and make marriage more
exciting
In 1968 Woman protested the idea of themselves as
sex objects. In Atlantic City women demonstrated against
the 1968 Miss America Pageant.
It} was the first major action of the current
woman’s movement .. we were affirming our mutual
feeling of outrage, hope, and readiness to conquer
the world. We also all felt, well grown up: we were
doing this one for ourselves, not for our men, and we
were consequently getting to do those things the men
never let us do, like talking to the press or
dealing with the mayor’s office. (Morgan, 62)
This whole event has been made out to be more anti
beauty then it truly was. The women who protested the event
were not against the women participating, in fact the
protesters proclaimed solidarity with the contestants. The
Women’s Liberation Movement chose the Miss America Pageant
because it represent to them all the things wrong with
society and how it deals with women:
The contestants epitomize the role all women had to
play in this society, one way or the other:
apolitical, unoffending, passive delicate(but
drudgery-delighted) things (Morgan, 64)
This pageant was the beginning of the bouncing back of
the women’s movement and thus beauty being once again
liberatory.

The women’s movement became a very prominent aspect
of the 1970s. Woman no longer subjected themselves to those
health hazardous beauty regiments. in the 1970’s the beauty
industry felt that if they were going to make any profits
they had to find away to celebrate this new feeling of
power woman had.

In the winter of 1973 , Charles Revson called a
high – level meeting of Revlon executives. He had a
revolutionary concept he told them : a fragrance that
celebrated woman’s liberation.

The fragrance now know as Charlie was the product of
several months of interviewing woman about what they wanted
in a perfume.

Charlie symbolized that new lifestyle. Revlon
executive vice president Lawrence Wechsler recalls,
that said you can be anything you want to be , you
can do anything you want to do, with out any
criticism being directed at you. If you want to wear
a pantsuits at the office instead of a skirt, fine
(Faludi 205)
Immediately Following this period of resurgence again
we see a regression in the 1980’s. I don’t know why this
keeps happening maybe it’s cyclical nature of time, but
once again women are repressed by beauty and sex appeal.

The 1980’s saw the start of a plastic surgery craze. Women
were trying all sorts of measures to be the sexy,
beautiful, thin , and presumably happy women they saw in
advertisements. Now you can be yourself you don’t have to
be a powerhouse. (Faludi 201), this is what a mannequin
designer Filoso believes is what life is about for woman,
he considers this a big improvement over the ’70’s, when
women didn’t care about their appearance. Now they not
only care feel that they can be and look like anything or
anyone they want: Today, woman can look at a beautiful
mannequin in a store and say I want to look like her and
they can actually can! They can go to their doctor and
say,’ Doc, I want I want these cheek bones.’ ‘Doc I want
these breasts.’ The question to me is do you actually want
to look like a mannequin or yourself.

By this point one should see how Feminine beauty is
subjective to the time to which you are referring. I think
that the ’90s are part repressive, due to the need to feel
beautiful and thin at almost any cost,but are also in
terms of beauty. Women not only believe that they can do
and be anything they know it. And the beauty industry has
seen the American women as a group of very different
individuals. We, woman, as a whole are doing our thing and
are in liberation we are sexy smart and in the end the
makers of our ideal and not the subjects of one.


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