Miss Clairol By Helena Viramontes

1473 Words6 Pages

Why do women feel constantly pressured to meet certain beauty standards that harm us? The answer varies, but in most cases, it is because that is what society has demanded of us for decades. The short story “Miss Clairol” by Helena Viramontes introduces us to the life of a single Chicana mother where she still acts like a teenager around her daughter while trying to satisfy the eurocentric beauty standards so that men consider her attractive, and at the same time ignoring her daughter often, which causes a role reversal with her daughter making her to be independent at a young age. In this short story, Viramontes offers us an insight into the under-reported life of a Chicana woman non-white in the US. In “Miss Clairol” the main character's …show more content…

Throughout the story, her clothing and actions demonstrate child-like attitudes. Such as when they are at the Kmart shopping for beauty products “Arlene is wearing a pink, strapless tube top. Her stomach spills over the hip-hugger jeans. Spits the gum onto the floor” (Viramontes 121). Arlene’s clothing is very youthful, something a teenager would wear, meanwhile the use of the color pink could be symbolized as her playfulness and the fact that she wears tight clothes makes the impression that she wants the attractive acceptance of society, especially from men. Besides, she is already a mother and is not setting a good example for her daughter by spitting gum on the ground, which is an attitude that a teenager might adopt to be "cool" or rebellious. Her very attitude leads her to rely on men easily and do whatever it takes to be beautiful for …show more content…

For example, while mother and daughter talk about which hair color they should buy, the author reveals that “Arlene has burned the softness of her hair with peroxide; her hair is stiff, breaks at the ends…” (Viramontes 120). The use of peroxide makes us infer that neither her economic situation nor her health is more important than beauty. For a long time it has been normalized to put one's health at risk just to be considered beautiful in a society full of stereotypes, but above all women of color are the ones who have the most disadvantages. Arlene, by not having European aspects, has to dye her hair another color even if the products are harmful because her natural color is not considered ideal. Additionally, this causes problems with her self-esteem and true identity since she has to hide a part of herself. She also doesn't mind taking a long time to reach her beauty

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