WP 6 Culture impacts on feminine beauty- Juwon Park

Which standard of feminine beauty is considered “ideal”? The answer to this question depends on the perspective of each individual culture. The society impacts the idea of feminine beauty by convincing females that their physical appearance is a flaw and should be changed if it is different than the ideal style from that culture. A specific culture can influence the population to follow a specific “perfect” style of their appearance that can be completely opposite from another culture. For example, curvy bodies and tan skin are not seen as beautiful as being a thin structure and a pale complexion in Asian countries. There are usually specific reasons behind this ideal type, such as the influence of a culture’s history. In Korea, being tan is often associated as being poor because they believed that tan skin was a sign of labor work in fields. Another example would be female circumcisions determining whether a person was unclean and unmarriageable in the Kenyan culture.

These practices of conforming to the “feminine beauty” standard happen in almost every culture. These practices are influenced by the ideal model that each person can strive to look like one day, even though most of the time it is at the expense of someone’s health. Footbinding was originally used as a sign that signified that a woman was wealthy, faithful to the husband, and attractive. It was seen as a symbol of wealth because it shows that the women are rich enough to support themselves even though they could not work with wrapped feet. While this practice is currently outlawed in China, it took a while for the effect of the ban to take place. This may be because the benefits of foot binding were worth more than the pain and the punishments that went along with this practice. In certain countries female genital cutting is seen as a passage into womanhood or birth, religious reasoning, and for beauty purposes. This practice differs in several degrees, ranging from small pricks of the clitoris or cutting certain parts of the labia, or even infibulations, which is actually removing certain parts of the clitoris and sewing the vaginal opening.  Another method of altering the physical appearance of females is plastic surgery, which includes facial, body, and genital appearance. Plastic surgery is performed in many countries to “fix” or enhance almost any part of their body to fit the culture’s standards.

In the film, the “Perfect Vagina” the author takes a feminine perspective to address whether or not the standard of females physical appearance is defined or affected by the influence of males. Throughout the whole entire video, the author tries interview different men to address what males think about the surgically altering a female genitals and what they prefer regarding the looks of them. The results were mostly mixed in the extent of what they prefer, however, most men did have at least one thing that they would change about it. While the author’s friends believe that only certain factors are unattractive, like body hair, they believed that the extent that some females have gone to address the criticism is a bit extreme. On the other hand, the painters of her house were very specific in what they wanted and criticized the women whose vagina did not look a certain way. She also addresses the issues from an interpretive perspective because she focuses on how we think about certain things that influence our behaviors.  There was a segment in the video that talked about how when women looked at the appearance of others, they were able to realize that a majority of the people did not have the ideal look.

If these practices were outlawed abruptly, I do not believe that these practices would cease completely at once. I think it will take a really long time for society to change its view on many factors regarding ideal physical appearance. Eventually, if the women were not to be compared to this unrealistic version that society deems is “perfect”, a lot of women would be more accepting of their own physical appearance. I think there would be a lot of healthier decisions made to change their physical appearance because the reasoning would be about health rather than to look a certain way.

One thought on “WP 6 Culture impacts on feminine beauty- Juwon Park

  1. I truly enjoyed your piece, I also believe that everything is socially constructed and that our society has placed social identities on the role of women. We have constructed the roles of women, being only seen in domesticated roles compared to roles of their male counterparts, which are portrayed as positions of power. In our economy, we have created the notation that a specific type of women, with long hair, beautiful eyes, and a great body, is the “perfect” women that are considered to be the norm. In the African American community being of the darker skin is considered not as pretty compared to the light skin women. Within the Korean culture, they do face a bigger consequence or punishment, because they believe in their traditions and women will be shunned out from their families. Women altering their body figures is not a new tradition, they have been transforming the way they look in every form of fashion, every culture, to fill the void or wanted the response of the public. I do not think these practices will end abruptly as well, because if they do become outlawed they will find another in practical form to complete the task.

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