The Beauty Myth 8.4分
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beauty as wealth and currency

a bit of background: the decay of the Feminine Mystique,women's swelling the work force

the old-boy network (finding a way to stereotype women) faces in working women a greater challenge than those it made out of other ethnic minorities, because women are not a minority. This explains the fierce nature of the beauty backlash (becoming totalitarian so fast)

Employers did not simply develop the beauty backlash because they wanted office decoration. It evolved out of fear.

Women work twice as hard as men, whether they are Eastern or Western, housewives or jobholders.

What about the New Woman, with her responsible full-time job? (work+housework)

Equal edu

The likelihood of backlash in some severe form was underestimated because the American mind-set celebrates winning and avoids noticing the corollary, that winners win only what losers lose.


With what can the power structure defend itself against this onslaught?

1). reinforce the second shift?❌ irreversable and abled women can hire poor ones

2). a replacement shackle: a new material burden that would drain surplus energy and lower confidence

3). tactics:

a. At lower level: encourage and nurture desirable qualities among women that best serve emploers <low self-esteem, a tolerance for dull repetitive tasks, lack of ambition, high conformity, more respect for men than women, and little sense of control over their lives>;

b. At a higher level: women middle managers are acceptable as long as they are male-identified and don't force too hard up against the glass ceiling; and token women at the top, in whom the female tradition has been entirely extinguished

c. an encompassing tactic that works at both levels: the beauty myth as the last, best training technique to create such a work force (beauty labor)


The professional beauty qualification

a bona fide occupational qualification is being extremely widely institutionalized as a condition for women's hiring and promotion


A. a feminist response to these three lies:

1). your physical appearance has nothing to do with your power and competence

2). beauty is not a hard work, it is an enjoyment, not a compulsory requirement, stop blaming women for not working hard in order to be beautiful and stop praising those who put enormous and painful effort in order to gain beauty

3). pursuing beauty is the first step for feminism and empowerment

B. are those really lies? or normative realities with substantial power that constrains people? and what we need is not revealing these lies, but undermining them with counterractive norms? (for example, it is important to distinguish between conformity and adaptive preference in feminist discourse in order not to stigmatize or traumatize individuals)


women's magazines (meritocracy, entrepreneurial spirit, absolute personal liability for body size and aging.)

The harm:

1). when through this dream, women's minds are persuaded to trim their desires and self-esteem neatly into the discriminatory requirements of the workplace, while putting the blame for the system's failure on themselves alone

2). beauty pursued and viewed as wealth by women but does not warrant real wealth

3). beauty became a defensive proof to aggressive competitors of womanhood or manhood (by the 1980s)


The background of the PBQ (professional beauty qualification)


the young working woman was blocked into a stereotype that used beauty to undermine both the seriousness of the work that she was doing and the implications of her new independence,

conscious-raising groups campaigning for Equal Employment Opportunity


laws was made that "beauty" was ruled to be sth that could legally gain or lose women their jobs

"standards of near perfection"

a woman can be fired for not looking right, but looking right remains open to interpretation

the seventies saw women streaming into the professions in a way that could no longer be dismissed as intermittent or casual or secondary to their primary role as wives and mothers


By the new decade, United States government policy decreed that the working woman must be taken seriously, and the law decreed that her appearance must be taken seriously. The political function of the beauty myth is evident in the timing of these case laws. It was not until women crowded the public realm that laws proliferated about appearance in the workplace.



beauty outweight professional skills in recruitments

what is generic is replaceable--> women's insecurity and the feeling of invisibility without beauty

"market logic, not discrimination"


The law upholds the beauty backlash

no win situation for women: "feminine, but not too feminine" ,"businesslike yet feminine"

women blame themselves for triggering violations

the core issue: whatever women wear and dress, they are deemed sexual

Molloy's movement (professional uniform for women)

The consequence of men wearing uniforms where women do not has simply meant that women take on the full penalities as well as the pleasures of physical charm in the work-place, and can legally be punished or promoted, insulted or even raped accordingly

Where beauty forms the bridge between women and institutions, is what women are taught to seize upon, and is then used as proof that women themselves are finally to blame

making women enemies of each other (the aspiring woman does not have to do it if she has a choice)


The social consequence of the PBQ

The PBQ keeps women materially and psychologically poor :

--- the pay difference and women's low self-esteem

--- beauty ideology teaches women they have little control and few options

--- women learn unworthiness and lack of the sense of entitlement. (severe self-doubt about women's financial worth, professional insecurity) -->women do earn more from selling their bodies than their skills, how can a women believe in merit in a reality like this?

--- it tires women out (all labor systems that depend on coercing a work force into accepting bad conditions and unfair compensation have recognized the effectiveness of keeping that work force exhausted to keep it from making trouble)

--- it inverts the male career span (women cling to the PBQ because what it threatens is true, a young woman may indeed do better economically by investing her sexuality while it is at an optimum exchange rate than she does by working hard for a lifetime)

--- the surgical economy and the ideology of self-improvement (women undertaking cosmetic/plastic surgery): a catehory that falls somewhere between a slave economy and a free market

--- making women's hope for legal recourse to justice obsolete

--- keeping women isolated

--- uses her body to convey her economic role

some cases: office pinups, large portion of money spent on beauty maintainence

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