Social Construction of Beauty Essay

Body image and portrayal of body shapes as well as how people interpret their bodies have undergone a transformation over years leading to changing practices in regards to beauty based on social norms, cultural norms as well as gendered physical and social appearance. Gender has played a significant role in determining the femininity and masculinity of both dynamic physical and social bodies in society. The concept of beauty and has been charged and appreciated by various aspects of the body including body shape, size, weights, and body appearance. To satisfy this social construct people have undergone tormenting experiences to satisfy the gendered and socially constructed bodies by undergoing dieting measures, physical fitness, and aerobics as well as physical and system surgeries to satisfy the social concept of body construct. Social and cultural views and conventions on body weight and shape have proved to be punishing some groups of people and exposing them to lower self-esteem and lack of self-respect.

The ideals of feminine beauty in society have been socially and culturally dramatized despite the feminist movements on the liberation of women. Women have been persuaded and at times coerced to undergo various practices to mold their bodies to construct socially acceptable bodies. These practices are typically tormenting and may lead to eating disorders and other illness in an attempt to satisfy cultural and social perception of body looks. According to Naomi Wolf, the freedom of women obtained from breached power structure has been curtailed by infused notions of beauty which has led to fast-growing eating disorders and cosmetic surgery (Wolf 10). Wolf claimed that although more women have been liberated and have more money and power, they have been poisoned by self-hatred, lack of self-respect, and lack of control on their physical bodies. It is claimed that beauty myth is among several socially constructed fictions which threatened the freedom of the feminine sphere and determine how women live in the society.

Social norms and culturally idealized stereotypes and conspiracies on beauty shows how society has continually insubordinate women. Experiences of body dissatisfaction in regards to body ideals show how beauty influences the conceptions of body image and self-esteem. Women undergo unbearable conditions to the extent of starving and compulsive exercise in order to beauty ideals set for them by society (Rilley 363). Riley describes how boys were never interested in her before losing weight and how people started calling her “pretty” after losing weight. Chernik also explains how society cheered and applauded her self-sabotage, pain, obsession, and craziness with losing weight to meet the beauty standards of the society (Chernik 245). On the contrary, women should place unconditional acceptance of their bodies on top of their political agenda by loving and honoring their infinite body shapes and sizes contrary to society.

Also, women should empower themselves and establish their power relations regardless of their body shapes and social fictions on their beauty. Valdes observes how women can enhance their progress by supporting each other by offering to boost other women economically. She finds that the payment she received as an instructor for aerobics were essential in building women to be strong politically (Valdes 27). However, typically society insubordinate women because they choose to live the life determined by society. In the current generation, women particularly teens often walk while half-naked in order to show the beauty and attract men. They may suffer cold but still prefer exposing their body to conform to the beauty standards of society. On the other hand, men do not focus much on fashion and physical appearance and the social construct of beauty do not impact on men as much as it affects women.

Works Cited

Chernik, Abra Fortune. “The body politic.” Listen up: Voices from the next feminist generation (1995): 75-84.

Riley, Serena. “The black beauty myth.” Colonize this (2002): 357-369.

Valdes, Alisa L. “Ruminations of a feminist fitness instructor.” Listen up: Voices from the next feminist generation (2001): 25-32.

Wolf, Naomi. The beauty myth: How images of beauty are used against women. Random House, 1991.

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