Individualism In Making The Body Beautiful, By Sander L. Gilman

1025 Words5 Pages
Many cultures utilize the body as a way of expressing their identity by modifying specific features, which help to demonstrate cultural pride. The modifications of physical features represent racial empowerment, self-identification, and formulation of individual body image. The manipulation of the body and expression of individualism has been scrutinized and unaccepted in most dominant cultures. The establishment of standard body images and rejection of abnormal features has created a hostile environment for racial minorities. The rejection of foreign physical attributes has developed stereotypes that target determined racial groups and associates negatives characteristics with their physiognomy. Racial stereotyping enforces physical stigmas…show more content…
In Western societies discrimination started as racial stereotyping by labeling predominant features present in minorities. The ridicule of minorities unusual physiognomy created a sense of superiority in the dominant culture. Sander L. Gilman, cultural and literary historian, express his perspective on the stereotyping of minorities in his book Making the Body Beautiful. Gilman expresses that physical inequalities cause stigmatization of bodily parts. The stigmatization of minorities appearance suggests a closer relationship with animal features. The disassociation of the dominant culture from the minorities enforces essential differences that differentiate the nature of the minority group. Gilman focuses on the facial features that distingue an individual from the minority group. His research about the implications of nose differences in the 18th century and 20th century, suggest that there are predetermined characters associated with the physical shape of the nose. In the 18th century the shape of the nose and skin color could represent…show more content…
Maxine Leeds Craig, Women and Gender studies professor at the University of California, expresses that the beauty industry targets specific racial groups according to their predominant features in her book Ain’t I a Beauty Queen?. She suggests that the black culture has become an economics opportunity to implement aesthetics improvements. Hair straighteners are some of the commercial products directly associated to African American women. The social pressure that African American women receive from society’s beauty standards, makes them straightened their hair or wear wigs voluntarily to be part of the conceptual form of beauty. The body of African American men and women has been despised, reticule, and feared by the dominant culture since the beginning of time. Their physiognomy has made them inferior to Caucasian population and now they are objective to discrimination. The work of Eugenia Kaw, and Gilman also implies that the enslavement of African American descents was justify by their ugliness and association with animals. It appears that until today, African Americans are still rearticulating their identity. Maxine Leeds Craig, uses the 1968 Miss American beauty pageant as an example to depict the discrimination of the African American beauty. At the time, the Miss America pageant was known for excluding the participation of African American women. As a result, the National Association
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