Beauty among females is not a new concept. Since the beginning of time, there has been a significant emphasis placed on beauty in society. No matter what country, there is always some type of standard to which women are held.
I have heard of the custom of foot binding numerous times before but I never actually knew the story behind it or the significance. It always seemed like an odd process and even painful, so I was never sure why women would want to do this to themselves. From the video (Claiborne,2015), I learned that where foot binding is practiced, it is considered a positive thing. Women who bind their feet are considered attractive. Binding of the feet symbolizes wealth within the society and means one is climbing the social ladder. Also, interestingly enough, women who’s feet are bound are seen to be faithful to their husbands. I was not sure why this equaled faithful wives, but the video explained that women who could not move around much because of their bound feet, meant that they would be faithful.
Regarding female genital cutting, I have only ever had negative associations with this process. I could never understand why women would willingly give into such a custom, but it is actually common in other societies. Similarly to foot binding, this process is considered a positive idea. Female genital cutting ranges from a simple pricking of the female’s clitoris when they are a child, to complete removal of all reproductive organs and sewing up of the vaginal opening. Women who have this procedure completed are seen as more sexually attractive because it shows that they will be faithful to their partner and be less likely to cheat on them. While this may not be perceived the same in other countries, as mentioned in the video, when you are brought up seeing one standard considered as beauty, you are used to that being “attractive” and it is not unusual. For women who are uncut, they are shunned from society and are seen as girls, not women. Their chances of getting married are lessened because they are not seen as mature as those women who are cut.
Although these customs may seem odd or different to us in the United States, people from other countries and societies probably see norms in our country the same way. Plastic surgery is a fairly common or well-known procedure within the American culture. However, if you look at it from an outsiders perspective, it is quite scary. Basically, when women feel like they have too much belly fat, plastic surgery allows them to cut off their excess fat. To anyone in other societies who are not used to this, this process makes no sense and is indeed completely wrong. Similarly, diets and disorders such as anorexia and bulimia which are unfortunately very common in the United States are “customs” which others would never see as acceptable. Women in America always want to get skinnier than they are and in some places this is not an attractive thing. Seeing women who willingly get their excess fat cut off can be disturbing to some people.
Overall, learning about the different customs in different parts of the world has shown me that no matter what, every place has its own standards and criteria which women have to meet in order to be called beautiful. Although the customs may not be similar across the board, the bottom line is, as of now, society decides what beauty is and women are susceptible to follow those expectations and do whatever they can to meet them. Whether it is women binding their feet and passing this onto their own daughters, or female genital cutting which apparently shows maturity in a woman, or even plastic surgery which removes unwanted body fat, women in every society are prone to falling into the pressures of societal expectations. We are all guilty of it, whether we admit to it or not. Each standard depends on the society, but no matter how hard we try to fight it, there will always be some which women are trying to live up to because of our innate insecurities. Although this isn’t the most positive, it is one way that all cultures can unite, within every culture lies standards and stereotypes expected of women.
Claiborne, D. (Director) (2015, January 1). The “Ideal” Feminine Body: Chinese foot binding, female genital cutting, and female genital plastic surgery . Lecture 6.1