Gender Stereotypes and the Beauty Myth

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Dewing and Foster has proposed that a unisexual beauty myth may result in sexual equality. Therefore the purpose of this assignment is to investigate the impact beauty has on men and women. Thus, I look at how and why gender stereotypes and the beauty myth exist. Furthermore, I am also going to investigate how traditional beliefs of masculinity have changed. In addition, I also discuss the consequences that arise for men and women, because of the beauty myth. Lastly I will discuss the interrelation between gender and age and how double standards apply for ageing men and women in society. Moreover I will identify these double standards and discuss the reasons behind them.

Gender roles are learnt from a very early age, this is achieved through socialisation. “The term gender role refers to the behaviour patterns and attitudes that are seen as appropriate or typical for a male or female of a specific society.” (Louw & Louw, 2007: p.185) Therefore, gender stereotypes arise because children are socialised from a young age to behave in a gender appropriate fashion. Girls are socialised to value their beauty, while boys are taught to be providers. As an example, most girls play with dolls like Barbie, whereas most boys play with cars and guns. Hence, we see how imagery is used to influence our self – perception and our perception of others; likewise it influences our ideas of beauty.

The Compact Oxford English dictionary defines beauty as, “a combination of qualities that pleases the aesthetic senses” (1998: p.77). If we go by this definition, then we notice that beauty does not apply to one gender, race or ethnicity. However the western standard of beauty seems to be a youthful woman with long hair, a slim figure and Caucasoid featur...

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Louw, A. & Louw, D. 2007. Child and adolescent development. Bloemfontein: The University of the Free State

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Wolf, N. 2009. The Beauty Myth - Excerpt from DVD. [video online] Available at: [Accessed: 12 Apr 2014].
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