Not long ago, a woman’s success was measured by the success of her husband and her domestic prowess. Today, a woman is presumed successful if she can emulate the standards of beauty portrayed in the media. Unfortunately, this subliminally enforced standard is unattainable to some women, regardless of the quality of their character. Let’s examine how western women went from being pioneering superheroes, to people who measure their worth against airbrushed photographs of impossibly beautiful women.
Timeline of American Beauty
People have used women in print media to sell their products since the mid-19th century. The women in the ads were portrayed with thin waists, large breasts and stylish clothing. As the roaring 1920’s moved in, American women scored voting rights and birth control. Due to World War I, it became necessary for women to work. The print world began to portray women in a boyish, sexy fashion. Hemlines rose for sex appeal. Breasts were bound so women didn’t appear too feminine in the work-place. Hair was cut shorter for convenience and the flapper-girl was born.
The 1930’s and 1940’s popularized the pin up girl. Traditionally, the pin-ups were heavy breasted, meatier than the flapper, and scantily clad. Some pin-ups were printed to advertise a product, while others were printed as calendars or centerfolds for the soldiers serving in World War II. Pin up icons, such as Marilyn Monroe, began their careers this way. As of 2010, these women still set the par for American beauty standards.
The 1950’s introduced the American housewife. Women in print ads were portrayed in a wholesome, Donna Reid, manner. They had the figures of a pin-up, but these figures were covered with dainty house-dresses.
Health and Beauty
During the 19760’s and 1970’s, models, such as Twiggy, appeared everywhere. Women in print looked thin to the point of being sick. The hippie movement, and the fashions that came with it, did nothing to stop this standard. Hippies ate when they could, and were almost always thin. In the early 1980’s, AIDS reared its ugly head. The general population believed that if a person was thin,...