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Beautyism:

Intersectionality and Beauty Prejudice

WMS 500 Feminist Theories and Practices By: Leah Knowles


Introduction ●

Beauty standard discrimination is a branch of intersectional thought This kind of oppression intersects with those based on gender, race, class, age, ability, and sexuality Power Intersections – Who decides the standard? Proving beautyism as a form of discrimination is somewhat intangible – Hiring/Employment (article)


Introduction Continued ●

Standards of beauty are universal, but they also vary across culture and history Changing them seems to be an arbitrary process Immense pressure to fit the standard when it's arbitrary – based on traits one cannot control - fits the definition of oppression Focus on Western Society


Illustration of Changing Beauty Standards


Gender â—?

â—?

â—?

More pressure is put on females to be physically attractive than is put on males Females' merit is based on their material side and representation of sexuality Whereas males may have merit based on attractiveness, but also their achievements, mind, integrity, strength, personality, and character, etc.


Race ●

Black women's hair Compelled to use dangerous chemicals to straighten/relax their hair to resemble white women's Intersection – By virtue of their ethnicity, they don't fit society's mold


Class ●

Today, poverty-stricken people are over-weight Rich people are generally thin and plastic (can afford liposuction, cosmetic surgery, and personal trainers) Jackie O quote Intersection – Thinness is a major beauty norm in our culture that is


Age ●

Obsession with youth (“anti-aging technology,” “40 is the new 20”) Intersects with gender – women are infantilized while men are allowed to age gracefully (they look “distinguished”) Old = ugly and obsolete, which is ageist


Ableism ●

Invisible in literature, media, etc. If they are present, they are villainized, caricatured, or presented as asexual They do not fit normalized beauty and the evidence of that is their invisibility When was the last time you saw a super model who was also an amputee?


Hetero-normativity ●

Butch/masculine lesbian

Generally don't fit the stereotype of traditional femininity

Lesbians, in particular, pose a threat because they are “stealing” from the population of standardized beautiful females “Trannie” - ANTM uses this as a criticism of their models – Transgendered individuals are the opposite of beauty Intersection – Transgendered and homosexual individuals bend gender norms and therefore beauty standards


Presidential Election 2008 ●

Intersections – Race, age, and gender Strategy – Obama: young and attractive chose Biden: Older, more experienced; McCain: Senior citizen chose Palin: Young, inexperienced, and physically attractive female


Spongebob Squarepants


Discussion Questions ●

What does this say about our society and its dependence on the visual image? What does it say about the importance of physical attractiveness in order to succeed? Beautyism intersects with every other form of discrimination. Can you think of more examples that intersect? Fashionable science – scientifically attractive


References ●

Arie, India. I Am Not My Hair. Motown, 2006. Print. Beaucar Vlahos, Kelley. Energy, Experience Trump Age in 2008 Presidential Contest. 2007. Web. Beigel, Hugo G. “Sex and Human Beauty.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 12.1 (1953): 83-92. Print.

Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. Print. Brewer, Philip. “The New Face of Poverty is Fat.” WiseBread: Living Large on a Small Budget 21 Dec 2007. Web. Brown, Jeffrey A. “Class and Feminine Excess: The Strange Case of Anna Nicole Smith.” Feminist Review 81 (2005): 74-94. Print. Critser, Greg. Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in Theworld. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co, 2003. Print.


References ●

Crow, Stephen M., and Dinah Payne. “Affirmative Action for a Face Only a Mother Could Love?.” Journal of Business Ethics 11.11 (1992): 869-875. Print. Erickson, Joanie, and Jeanine Cogan. Lesbians, Levis and Lipstick: The Meaning of Beauty in Our Lives. 1st ed. Routledge, 1999. Print. Galloway, Jim. “Florida Study: Sarah Palin Hurt by a Focus on her Looks.” Political Insider 5 Mar 2009. Web.

Giorgio, Kathie. “Kathie Giorgio on Presidential Election 2008.” The Externalist 2 Oct 2008. Web. Grabe, Maria Elizabeth. Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print. Hall, Kim F. “Beauty and the Beast of Whiteness: Teaching Race and Gender.” Shakespeare Quarterly 47.4 (1996): 461-475. Print. Hao, Rita. “For Realz?: Caucasian America's Next Top Model.” Bitch Magazine Blog 24 Apr 2009. Web.


References ●

Images That Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media. 2nd ed. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2003. Print. McNerney, Tracey. “Ageism May be a Bigger Barrier in Presidential Election than Racism (or Sexism).” 24 Sep 2008. Web. Multimedia Entertainment (Firm), and Films for the Humanities (Firm). Age Discrimination. Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2004. Print. Sekayi, Dia. “Aesthetic Resistance to Commercial Influences: The Impact of the Eurocentric Beauty Standard on Black College Women.” The Journal of Negro Education 72.4 (2003): 467-477. Print.

Undressing the Ad: Reading Culture in Advertising. New York: Peter Lang, 1997. Print. Webster, Murray, and James E. Driskell. “Beauty as Status.” The American Journal of Sociology 89.1 (1983): 140-165. Print.

Weight Bias: Nature, Consequences, and Remedies. New York: Guilford Press, 2005. Print.

Widner, Cindy. “Vagina- Americans Get it Both Ways.” Bitch Magazine 200914-15. Print.

Beautyism Presentation  

Powerpoint for Beautyism Paper

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