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Published: 22-12-2019

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Beauty Standards as Qualification for Opportunities in Judith Ortiz Cofer's The Story of My Body and Elna Baker's The American Life: Tell Me I'm Fat

The 1950s: a stylized era of gorgeous, modern day ladies with the cultural hindrances of the past. The image of a excellent housewife in the 1950s was commonly portrayed as a thin, beautiful, white lady with the sole goal of serving the husband and the family. Her life was set by the modern day American culture to be a trophy (coining the term “trophy wife”) exactly where she would be beautiful without obtaining any targets pertaining other than to the idealized homelife. As time progressed, so did the modern day American society. The frequent housewife of the 1950s are no longer and females have been becoming much more and a lot more ambitious in their education and their careers, but nonetheless with cultural hindrances of the past: beauty standards. This all begs the query: are girls hindered in the operate force primarily based off of their beauty? Have the ideals of the past carried on from house life to operate life? Beauty has usually deemed as a common but for Judith Ortiz Cofer and Elna Baker, their beauty was a qualification for opportunities in their school and their profession, respectively.

In her essay “The Story of My Body”, Judith Ortiz Cofer writes about how she felt like the beauty standards, imposed as a Puerto Rican girl and as an American girl, restricted her from gaining opportunities in school. In her Catholic college in New Jersey, teachers would typically decide on students as leaders based off “presentability”- a sugar coated title for desirable students based off of the American beauty common: “I came there from Puerto Rico, pondering myself a fairly girl, and identified that the hierarchy for recognition was as follows: fairly white girl, fairly Jewish girl, pretty Puerto Rican girl, pretty black girl.” (Cofer, 543) The beauty standard of the American culture have been imposed on ladies from a young age, specifically young women of color. The hierarchy that Cofer mentions is a color spectrum, signifying that girls with lighter skin will be regarded to be a lot more gorgeous than girls with darker skin. White equates to beauty. Due to the fact of this race-based view on beauty, Cofer’s early life was obstructed by focusing on her appearance and whether or not she was provided possibilities primarily based off of her outer beauty.

Guys and ladies subconsciously accept the fabricated norm of human perfection based off of the media’s representation of beauty Elna Baker in “This American Life: Inform Me I’m Fat” speaks about how her expertise in her workplace- behind the scenes of the David Letterman Show- correlates straight with the media’s beauty normal. After she loses a considerable quantity of weight, Baker obtains a job with the Letterman Show- a late night speak show in New York, broadcasting to televisions around the nation. As element of her job, she finds out that the reside studio audience is categorized in three groups: the dots, the generals, and the CBS2s. The lovely folks have been placed in the front, when the “fat individuals, elderly with a visible illness, men and women who looked like they could be disruptive… and goths,” (Baker) would be placed in the back, far from the camera’s view. Even for two second shots, the Letterman Show is subtly setting the beauty regular to the viewers at home. From behind the scenes, this beauty excellent straight impacts Baker if she did not lose the weight, Baker would not have been offered the job position with the Letterman Show in the first location. A television show advertising the American beauty perfect to the basic public would not have employed a lady who does not embody that perfect herself. If Baker was to view the show pre-weight loss, she knows that she would not put her previous self in the front rows with the dots or the generals. Baker’s weight loss contributed to her paid position, but also contributed to the Letterman Show perpetuating the American beauty regular of thin beauty.

The beauty regular has withheld ladies in the classroom like Judith Ortiz Cofer and ladies in the workplace like Elna Baker. In the New York Instances article The Beauty Premium: Why Great Looks Pay, researchers Markus Mobius of Harvard University and Tanya Rosenblat of Wesleyan University conducted a study to uncover regardless of whether or not the beauty premium (the idea that eye-catching people perform far better in each aspect of life) exists. After producing experiments based on intellectual functionality, interview efficiency, and resume background, the researchers “estimated that about 15 % to 20 % of the beauty premium is a result of the self-confidence effect, although oral and visual communication each and every contribute about 40 %.” (Varian) That self-self-confidence must have been instilled in them prior to the experiment, appropriate? That’s exactly where the beauty common in the classroom comes in. In the Inside Greater Ed write-up Looks Matter, Rachel A. Gordan, professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago discussed her findings from her national study entitled Physical Attractiveness and the Accumulation of Social and Human Capital in Adolescence and Young Adulthood: Assets and Distractions, saying that “the teachers predict greater levels of intelligence and have higher expectations for the a lot more attractive students.” Teachers from this study and teachers from the New Jersey Catholic school Cofer attended had been subject to this, by supplying a lot more opportunities and therefore affecting the students’ general self-confidence. Self-self-confidence will lead to greater interview expertise, which will at some point lead to larger paying jobs.

Beauty standards are ingrained into the American culture and seeps via various aspects of the American life. The college program expects higher marks for conventionally appealing students, but they will not give students possibilities for growth and leadership if they do not match the beauty regular. As students graduate from school into their careers, they are faced with the very same dilemma from all these years: less possibilities for growth and leadership if they are not fairly sufficient. Women are no longer 1950s pretty tiny housewives with absolutely nothing but idle lives. Ladies are expanding to discover their potential, no matter their skin colour or their dress size. But will the American culture catch up and leave the beauty ideals behind?
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