Memoirs Of A Geisha

1442 Words6 Pages
In an experiment done at the University of Texas, babies pay more attention to attractive faces than unattractive faces (Newman 3). Even six-month-old babies, who have no understanding of ethical and social values, can judge appearances. Within society, beauty is a powerful force that can be used to oppress and discriminate against different groups. The “flower and willow world” of the geishas is a community that depends upon the recognition of beauty and artistic skill (Wieder 1). Geishas are female entertainers, who are highly respected and revered as “living treasures” of Japanese culture (Akita 3). Despite the differences in regions and times, all cultures value women for their beauty; thus, the role of women evolves to accommodate the changing demands that exist in the geisha community of Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, the ancient Chinese traditions of foot binding, and the modern workplace.
In Memoirs of a Geisha, Chiyo, a poor girl living in a small fishing village, enters an unfamiliar world when she is sold into an okiya, a lodging home for geishas. Forced to work as a servant, Chiyo is reluctant to obey the okiya that kept her from seeing her family. Once Chiyo realizes that her past is irretrievable, she understands “how completely the landscape of [her] mind changed” to desire “an image of the geisha [she] wanted to become” (Golden 161). Chiyo’s change in perspective brought her to acknowledge her desire of being part of the glamorous lifestyle of the geishas. Through this transformation, “[she is] no longer known as Chiyo. [She is] the novice geisha Sayuri” (176). As an apprentice geisha, Sayuri commits herself wholly to the study of the arts. In order to fully embrace this lifestyle, however, Sayu...

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...eimark 5). The view that older people cannot match the pace of the modern world is an evident theme in the workplace. In order to maintain their work positions, older women must get liposuction and facelifts, causing enormous psychological effects on self-esteem.
In past and present societies, women find value in their communities depending on different aspects of beauty. In Memoirs of a Geisha, Sayuri gains economic independence through the dramatic competitions between her and other geishas. The ancient Chinese tradition of foot binding prolonged a custom that subjugated women under the guise of beauty. Today's modern workplace entails a high standard of professional appearance that requires plastic surgery. In all instances, beauty plays an essential role in instilling a culture that persists and defines the intricate relationships between women and men.
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