Being Asian American

•May 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As a young girl, I remember being discriminated against in school for having a “flat face,” which basically means that i have a very flat nose bridge. When you add on the idea of having “slanty eyes,” my life was just miserable. It made me feel like an ugly duckling for the majority of life until I learned to accept myself. 

*The above is not a picture of me. Instead, it is an example of what I was describing above.

But there are those who never do learn to accept themselves. Just in 2005, Asian Americans had 437,000 cosmetic surgeries, a 58% jump from the previous year. The pressure to be American and to look white can best be described by the video below:

1940s- Women During WWII

•May 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie was an iconic female figure of the 1940s during one of the most brutal wars in modern history that killed millions. As men went off to fight, there was a huge push for women to fill these industrial jobs. Examples included steel plants, lumbar mills, and shipyards. Around 6 million women signed up for their new roles, and from 1940 to 1945 women in the workforce increased from 25%-36%.

Even as women stepped up to their new demands, their life just became more arduous and difficult. Now, in addition to taking care of her kids during the day, she would work at night. But at the same time, women experienced social and economic mobility for the first time and gained a true taste of independence.

In the 1940s, being beautiful meant supporting the cause, having pride in being American, and working hard to support the family.

Other important historical facts for women during this decade:

  • 1942- Congress authorizes women to serve in the US Navy
  • 1943- All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is founded
  • 1945- The United Nations is established; Eleanor Roosevelt is appointed as a U.S. delegate.

Plastic Surgery in Hollywood and the Real World

•May 21, 2010 • 1 Comment
For decades, women have been using plastic surgery as a way to change their physical appearance. However, in recent years, the number of procedures have sky rocketed!
Here are the startling statistics:
  • Since 1997, there has been over 162% increase in the total number of cosmetic procedures. Surgical procedures increased by almost 80%, and nonsurgical procedures increased by over 233%.
  • Breast augmentations increased 55% from 2000 to 2006, going from 212,500 procedures to 329,326.  Breast lifts — another favorite among the mommy makeover crowd — went up 96% during the past six years, with the total number of procedures going from 52,836 to 103,788.  Tummy tucks jumped a whopping 4,384% and buttock lifts increased 174%.
  • There were over 10 million surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2008, as reported by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Surgical procedures accounted for 17% of the total with nonsurgical procedures making up 83% of the total.
  • Women had over 9.3 million cosmetic procedures, almost 92% percent of the total.
  • People age 35-50 had the most procedures – over 4.5 million and 45 percent of the total. People age 19-34 had 22 percent of procedures; age 51-64 had 26 percent; age 65-and-over had 6 percent; and age 18-and-younger had almost 2 percent.

While surgery has become safer, the increase in surgical procedures can be more attributed to the media. Since 2000, the number of TV shows has skyrocketed. In fact, one report indicates that for girls ages 12 – 17 years old, 3 out of 4 of their favorite television shows were reality TV shows. Furthermore, In using a well-known example, American Idol has attracted over 50% of the market share, indicating that over 50% of television viewers tuned in, to watch the show. Unfortunately, reality shows, especially American Idol, has a habit of “transforming” their stars into something completely different, supporting the idea that to be beautiful, it means you have to be thinner, be tanner, have whiter teeth, have smooth and shiny hair, have great skin, etc.
Here are some before and after shots of popular reality TV stars:

Carrie Underwood- American Idol

Diana Degarmo- American Idol

Katherine McPhee- American Idol

Jennifer Hudson- American Idol

Heidi Montag- The Hills

Kate Gosselin- Jon and Kate + 8

Note: This last one is the saddest transformation of them all. What began as a simple 1 hour special about a couple who decided to have 8 children after not being able to have children at all.. turned into reality trash. Jon and Kate are divorced now and the media and Hollywood spotlight has destroyed their family. And all for what? Certainly not happiness.

Disney- Media Influence on Young Girls in 1930s

•May 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment
In the previous post I talked about the conditions that women had to endure. But what about the little girls? If you look at the media that young girls were exposed to at that time like Disney’s Snow White (1937), it easy to see the negative ideas that were being reinforced.
The Queen- Snow White’s Stepmother (Antagonist)
  • Obsessed with being the most beautiful one of all and will stop at nothing to achieve that status– other options the story tellers could have chosen include: being the smartest, most creative, most cunning, etc. Instead, they have decided to focus on physical appearance
  • Is jealous of Snow White’s beauty after the mirror has said it so– they should be focusing on teaching girls to be confident in themselves and the way they look and not let anyone tell them otherwise.. especially a mirror
  • Decides that killing Snow White is acceptable– no other explanation is needed; this is clearly not acceptable
Snow White- Protagonist

  • While overall she is portrayed as someone who is kind, giving, and caring– her fate in the story is dependent on the prince who must save the day. Instead, they should have focused on creating a heroine who could think for herself
  • She is naive to a fault and refuses to follow the good advice that others have given her
  • Like Barbie, her physical appearance is impossible to achieve in real life, but when little girls look at her– they strive to be like her when they grow up.
The events and ideas you are exposed to when you’re younger have the greatest impact on who you are and your beliefs. And while I disagree with Disney’s portrayal of Snow White, over the decades, the company has changed their movies so that there are more heroines.
A great example is Mulan, when a young girl decides to dress as a boy to join the army in place of her older father to keep her family together. This type of bravery is the kind we need to inspire into our future generations whether they are girl or boy.

1930s- Her Role in Society

•May 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment
Working Class Women
By looking through old Hollywood films featuring Jean Harlow, you never would have guessed the cruel and back breaking lifestyle that women endured in the 1930s. I believe that this was a critical turning point in history for women as they started to make the hard transition from being thought of as the “weaker sex,” to one that was equal to men.

Let’s begin with a simple historical fact:

In 1936, Fortune magazine polled users and asked, “Do you believe that married women should have a full time job outside the home?” (I’ve posted the answers in a pie chart format.)

Even after WWI, women still were not respected or thought “beautiful” for being self-reliant, independent, and hard-working. Instead, they were ostracized by society. They were paid much lower wages than men and worked anywhere from 50-55 hours a week. Today, in the US an average work week is 40 hours a week, and anything over that is considered overtime. Unfortunately, the government also took this stance in 1932 with the passing of the Federal Economy Act. Only one family member could work for the government, and this prevented many married women from federal employment.

Options were limited even if they could get jobs.

  • Only 24.3% of women were employed
  • 3/10 of these women were in domestic or personal service
  • Out of the professional working women- 3/4 were school teachers or nurses
Higher Class Women- Debutant Ball
On the other side of the coin, there were still women who were born into rich families. And although they had more money and lived a more comfortable life style– they had very little choice in life. Instead of striving to be scientists, doctors, or business women, they grew up learning how to be the “‘perfect wife and perfect mother.” Her childhood would consist of learning how to be demure and ladylike. And skills that she would acquire included sewing, cooking, and dancing. This would all culminate until she reached the proper age of marriage, and then, her parents would throw her a Debutante ball, which made her eligible for marriage.
Overall, regardless of which class you lived in, being a woman equated to limited social rights and no respect. While women could vote as stated in the 19th Amendment that was ratified in the 1920s, to be beautiful still meant to be easily persuaded and moved by a man.

Experiment: Part III- Brandon and Conclusion

•May 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I believe that this next review is the most critical part of this entire experiment. Now, we will be able to see the differences between the opinions of men and women when it comes to American female beauty.

Third Reviewer: Brandon

Model 1

Comments:

1. I like her defined cheekbones
2. Her chest is a little too small for me
3. Her face is kinda strange…but she has nice lips– they are full
4. She’s too skinny with no curves.
5. She has a strangely long neck that looks unnatural

Overall:

This girl is plain– the definition of magazine beauty, blah.

Model 2

Comments:

1. I love her full smile; you can tell her smile is real by looking at her eyes
2. She has some weight, and it doesnt look llike a stiff wind will blow her over. I like that she is a more accurate portait of American women. She doesn’t look like a Barbie doll.
3. Even though I notice that she has stretch marks, it doesn’t take away from her overall beauty

Overall:

She looks comfortable in her own skin.

Model 3

Comments:

1. Confidence is really showing through in her stance and her eyes
2. Her hair also makes her look confident and shows that she feels attractive
3. Comfortable enough with herself to pose. She looks real.
4. I noticed that the last girl has stubby feet and that her second toe is longer than the first, but it doesn’t affect how beautiful I think she is overall.

Overall:

She is definitely not following the stereotype of beauty portrayed by most American women. She is showing that you dont have to be skinny to be beautiful.

My Insights:

  1. While neither of the girls were overly critical of the models, with this you can clearly see the contrast between men and women. First, there was a greater focus on the overall look of each woman rather than details.
  2. Also, beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but Brandon did not find the first model attractive at all regardless of industry standards, while the women had a more positive opinion of Model 1.
  3. Many of his comments were focused on how the physical appearance related to their personality, especially the idea of confidence. On the other hand, fewer of these ideas were communicated with the females.
  4. However, he did also notice details like stretch marks and how the second toe on Model 3 is bigger than the first toe, but he also emphasized the idea that it didn’t take away from the model’s overall beauty
  5. While this was only the opinion of one man, it does at least prove that while media focuses on telling women to look better and younger for men- this may actually be a self made industry marketing scheme because there are men out there who look for more than good looks in the person they want to be with

Experiment: Part II- Michelle

•May 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I had the opportunity to interview another American female, so I jumped at the chance. In the same manner as the previous entry, I will be posting her comments followed by own.

Second Reviewer: Michelle

Model 1

Comments:

  1. Large eyes are nice
  2. Eyes a bit too wide
  3. Sleek, flat stomach
  4. Boobs too small
  5. Prominent collar bones are attractive
  6. Slim legs, but not too boney
  7. Delicate, feminine shoulders

Model 2

Comments:

  1. Boobs are shapely, but not too big
  2. Eyes a good distance apart
  3. Smile is white and warming
  4. Legs are strong, they are a bit big, but toned
  5. Bum is slim
  6. Feet are usually not that attractive

Model 3

Comments:

  1. Eyes are BEAUTIFUL in both color (striking blue) and shape
  2. High cheek bones are gorgeous
  3. Full luscious lips
  4. Hair is absolutely beautiful
  5. Great chest…nice line from collarbone to boobs.  Boobs are a bit too big
  6. Tummy is flabby, not attractive
  7. Legs are strong and toned…bigger than I prefer

My Insights:

  1. This was a great contrast to the previous commenter who focused more on the comparisons between industry and real life. In this review, it was easier to see how much attention can be paid by one girl to another. There is this saying that women dress for each other instead of for their men, and I think this was a good example of that idea.
  2. Throughout the comments, it is also easier to see the effects of media on women. While the first commenter believed that Model 1 was too thin, Michelle had a much more positive opinion of Model 1’s body over Models 2 and 3.
  3. Even though she didn’t put it in her comments, Michelle actually noticed that Model 3 had a bigger second toe than big toe in the picture, this just reinforces my first comment.

Next: Brandon