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Beauty Norms for Men vs. Women:

Beauty Norms for Men vs. Women Laura Hirsch and Darin Murray

PowerPoint Presentation:

“She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough… She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general…It’s true! C’mon.” -President Barack Obama on California Attorney General Kamala Harris, April 2013

PowerPoint Presentation:

Many were outraged by this comment. Why did the President feel the need to comment on her looks? Why should it matter what she looks like?

PowerPoint Presentation:

It’s not that Obama was being intentionally insensitive- it is a reflection on our cultural norms . In our society, it is the norm for a woman to dress in a feminine manner and pay a great deal of attention to her appearance. Obama thought he was paying her a compliment.

PowerPoint Presentation:

The sad truth is, to our society, it DOES matter what a woman looks like. While obviously we know that society has constructed these norms, most women still feel that they have to conform to these norms lest they be ostracized by the community. We saw this in the film Pariah, when Alike changes her clothing at home to make her parents happy. Everywhere a woman goes, she is expected to pay attention to her looks, compromising her time, money, and comfort. High beauty standards for women start at birth and continue throughout their entire lives.

PowerPoint Presentation:

In this presentation, we will compare the clothing choices offered for men and women in different situations and stages of their lives.

Childhood:

Childhood Boys are offered more comfortable, durable choices. Girls’ options are overburdened with decorations that could fall off if the child is too rough. Girls’ clothes are less comfortable and don’t allow them to run around as easily as boys. Young children are active, but dresses and prevent girls from engaging in certain activities, like climbing. Sometimes girls’ clothing choices are even hyper sexualized, particularly swimwear.

Formalwear for toddlers- boys are offered a jacket and comfortable pants, while girls wear frilly white dresses that can easily get dirty:

Formalwear for toddlers- boys are offered a jacket and comfortable pants, while girls wear frilly white dresses that can easily get dirty

Boys’ swimwear- swim trunks:

Boys’ swimwear- swim trunks

Girls’ Swimwear- suits and bikinis heavy with ruffles and flower appliqués:

Girls’ Swimwear- suits and bikinis heavy with ruffles and flower appliqués

Boys’ footwear- comfortable, durable, and clearly designed for running around:

Boys’ footwear- comfortable, durable, and clearly designed for running around

Girls’ footwear- strappy sandals with fabric flowers and jewels that can fall off if the child is not careful:

Girls’ footwear- strappy sandals with fabric flowers and jewels that can fall off if the child is not careful

Boys’ casual clothing- cotton shorts, shirts, and sweatshirts:

Boys’ casual clothing- cotton shorts, shirts, and sweatshirts

Girls’ casual clothing- skirts, dresses, and tops. Clothing often has ruffles, sparkles, and fabric flowers. Girls have to be gentler when playing so that they don’t expose themselves:

Girls’ casual clothing- skirts, dresses, and tops. Clothing often has ruffles, sparkles, and fabric flowers. Girls have to be gentler when playing so that they don’t expose themselves

Adolescence:

Adolescence Perhaps one of the most iconic moments of American teenage life is the high school prom. Boys are expected to wear tuxedos, which allow them to move around relatively easily. Tuxedos are a sort of “uniform” for boys, as they look good on everyone. Girls spend a long time looking for prom dresses that accentuate their “best” features, wear high heels that are hard to walk in to make their legs look more toned, and spend a lot of money on hair and makeup.

Boys’ tuxedos- boys have a relatively easy time choosing what to wear to prom, and can move around in their clothes easily:

Boys’ tuxedos- boys have a relatively easy time choosing what to wear to prom, and can move around in their clothes easily

Girls’ dresses- Girls spend a long time trying to find something that looks good on them. Dresses are usually uncomfortable and hard to move around in. One girl needed her mom to help her put her dress on.:

Girls’ dresses- Girls spend a long time trying to find something that looks good on them. Dresses are usually uncomfortable and hard to move around in. One girl needed her mom to help her put her dress on.

Boys’ footwear- flat shoes that allow easy movement, like running in the grass and climbing trees:

Boys’ footwear- flat shoes that allow easy movement, like running in the grass and climbing trees

Girls footwear- high heels that are uncomfortable, difficult to walk in, and prevent girls from even walking on grass:

Girls footwear- high heels that are uncomfortable, difficult to walk in, and prevent girls from even walking on grass

Boys’ hair- boys just have to wash their hair and shave their face to get ready:

Boys’ hair- boys just have to wash their hair and shave their face to get ready

Girls hair- girls spend a lot of time and money to have their hair and makeup done by a professional:

Girls hair- girls spend a lot of time and money to have their hair and makeup done by a professional

Adulthood:

Adulthood The distinct difference between male and female clothing options continue throughout adulthood. It is noticeable in the workplace, in the home, and in social settings. It is perhaps most distinct on the weekends, when adults partake in social activities such as going to concerts and bars. While the men dress in comfortable, modest clothing, women wear very little to draw attention to physical features.

Men’s weekend apparel- men dress comfortably in jeans, warm shirts, and flat shoes:

Men’s weekend apparel- men dress comfortably in jeans, warm shirts, and flat shoes

Women’s weekend apparel- women wear very little clothing, despite the cold. What they do wear is very revealing.:

Women’s weekend apparel- women wear very little clothing, despite the cold. What they do wear is very revealing.

Women wear very sexualized clothing, which is not comfortable and rarely seasonally appropriate:

Women wear very sexualized clothing, which is not comfortable and rarely seasonally appropriate

PowerPoint Presentation:

In our culture, it is the norm for women to wear impractical, uncomfortable clothing. From the time a girl is born and throughout her life, she is trained to try to conform to this norm. While it is quite clearly an artificial manufactured standard that our society has created, women still feel the pressure to dress in accordance to this norm.

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