The Cultural Construction Of Beauty Analysis

515 Words3 Pages
In Making Faces: The Cosmetics Industry and the Cultural Construction of Gender, Kathy Peiss argues that cosmetics transformed society’s criteria and standard of beauty which segmented the industry and heightened cultural constructions of gender, class, and race. Before cosmetics were commercialized, make-up was solely worn by prostitutes, thus it was considered offensive, degrading, and improper. As the market grew, it began to represent sexuality, femininity, and womanhood. The cosmetic industry popularized the idea that beauty could only be achieved by wearing specific products, thus persuading women to believe they needed to wear makeup at all times. It led to the assertion it was a woman 's duty to be beautiful to her husband, the world,…show more content…
There was a distinct dichotomy between the African American cosmetic community and the white community as shown by the products, advertising, and pricing. . Class and makeup were deeply correlated as expensive cosmetic lines became an “exclusive marker to social status.” Lots of American products were manufactured in Paris because it was thought that, “cosmetic practices of Parisian women [were] examples American women should emulate”. The Parisian ideal of beauty was a women with porcelain skin, further emphasizing that whiteness was the ultimate goal. Cosmetic lines further marginalized women of color as they encouraged them to buy bleaching creams and other makeup as a requirement for womanhood. Women of color were forced to assimilate into the eurocentric standard of beauty, one that resembled middle class white women. Overall, the commercialization of the cosmetics industry defined femininity and emphasized the division of class and…show more content…
The authors, The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (BWHBC), included all aspects of women 's health such as abortion, childbearing, birth control, and lesbianism as they believed that with knowledge, women would develop agency and be better equipped to deal with their health. Wendy Kline argues that for women who did not have access to women’s health groups or other feminist groups, reading Our Bodies, Ourselves, allowed them to see themselves as part of the movement. As women responded to the book, similarities were highlighted and it drew particular attention to the systemic nature of the medical mistreatment of women. Women told a variety of different stories, but all emphasized a feeling of violation, the mistreatment of women, and need for change. Responses also recommended what topics should be covered and demanded inclusivity. By publicizing the responses, women were encouraged to question the care they received, thus pressuring the entire medical system to reform. Our Bodies, Ourselves was inherently feminist in nature and bolstered the women’s health movement. Women began to assume roles as health care practitioners and activists and forever changed the effect of gender on the perception of illness and
Open Document