Dove and Gender Ideology

By: Garyn

Susan Bordo states, “Almost all of us that can afford to be eating well are dieting- and hungry- almost all of the time.”  Somewhere along the way, our idea of beauty has transformed dramatically.  In the mid-nineteenth century, in almost every bar or hotel that one entered, images of “Bouguereau- inspired paintings of voluptuous female nudes, would bombard you.” Lillian Russell, the most photographed woman in America in 1890, was admired greatly for her healthy lifestyle and appetite, ample body (with a weight exceeding two hundred pounds) and “challenging, fleshy arresting” beauty.  However, Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were at the forefront of the transformation from big and beautiful, to ultra-slenderness.

After reading this article, I found it to be mind-blowing how accurate Bordo’s arguments were.  I spoke with my great grandmother about what it was like for her growing up in regards to pressure to be beautiful.  What struck me the most was how she said that being “bigger” was a sign of having money because you could afford to feed yourself.  You were able to eat three meals a day and become full after eating.  If you were really skinny, however, it was seen as being poor, you weren’t eating enough.  She said that she thinks it is horrible how the beauty industry is trying to sell, especially to young girls, that you have to fit this made up image of “the perfect woman” to be beautiful.

Bordo states, “Like the knowledge of our own mortality when we are young and healthy, the knowledge that female stars physical appearance is fabricated is an empty abstraction; it simply does not compute.”  We know that it is the truth, that the people that women that we see everyday in the media are completely fake and unnatural individuals, yet we choose not to believe it and continue the process of attempting to transform ourselves to look like something that isn’t even real.  I think this is where the beauty industry is succeeding.  They are brainwashing girls into believing that if they don’t look like the models and superstars then there is something wrong with them.

There is a universal understanding that “virtually every female star over the age of twenty-five is a plastic product of numerous cosmetic surgeries on the dace and body. It is the created image that has the hold on what is, of what matters, of what we must pursue for ourselves.”  The Dove Self Esteem Campaign is attempting to target girls at their most vulnerable moments.  As shown in these commercials, we are forgetting that we are unique and that there will never be another person that is exactly like you.  So why are you trying to look like someone else? Beauty is not about how skinny you can be. It has no definition.  It is important to be aware of what they beauty industry is throwing at you.  In reality they don’t care about you, they just want to sell their product.

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This entry was posted in Section 1, Uncategorized, Winter 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

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