Essay: Gender in Cultural Artifacts

Pages: 4 (1445 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] The fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar business and a large target of manufacturers is the woman customer, all of whom have been convinced of an ideal body form to which they must all aspire. This is made evident by Mernissi's account of when she went into a New York clothing retailer and was insulted by a saleswoman who stated that the clothing's size 6 would not accommodate her body size (Mernissi 2003,-page 1). Not only will the clothing in this store not fit this woman, but her clothing size is called deviant, that is to say something outside of the norm. Daily, women in the United States and other western cultures are inundated with images about what the female physical ideal should be. She is barraged with many images and messages which all tell the same thing; they inform women that they are unsuitable in their own skins and must constantly work on their innate failings in order to fulfill the fantasy of men and thus achieve companionship. What happens in this narrative is that the two women expose the opposing viewpoints of the western and eastern world, only one of whom realizes that they are both being victimized by the patriarchy. Those in the west look upon women like Mernissi and feel pity for her. Westerners view women from the east as other and somehow lesser because of the way that women are marginalized in the Middle East. However, in the west, women are made to feel inferior if they are a clothing size that is larger than the norm. Mernissi feels pity for the western woman because she is thin to the point of looking, in Mernissi's opinion, like an adolescent boy so that she can be what her society demands that she be. She has no curves, and yet this is the body form that she aspires to because some anonymous dictator has demanded all media to portray this size 6 as the norm. Both women are victimized by the males in their society.

It is difficult not to agree with Mernissi's assertion that both types of women are prisoners in their societies. Muslim women in Morocco are imprisoned in a space dictated by males. Westerners look at women who are forces to wear a veil and to hide her body in public and they pity that woman. They do this without realizing that they are subject to the same tyranny. In the west, men imprison women just the same. The only difference is that the means by which they enslave women is much more sinister. Men use time and the process of aging to rob women of their confidence achieved through life experience. Females are taught from a young age that the only thing that is beautiful is thin and youthful. Once age or voluptuousness have been reached, the woman is no longer beautiful. What's more, the lack of beauty robs her of any worth in their society. The result of this patriarchy is that women find themselves worrying far more about how they look than what they have to say. Males have all opportunities to be successful but women are granted only a small window and in order to achieve that physical perfection, they have to starve themselves to a point of emaciation where they cannot take any stand against their oppression.

The Gap tells women that they can be as beautiful as these supermodels. All they need to do is buy Gap clothing and look exactly like these women. Beauty comes in every ethnicity and every shade of skin. It does not, however, come in any size; at least not in the United States. Clothing companies have been feeding people the idea for generations that they must be a specific body type to be considered beautiful. Even as society progresses in other ways, the ideas of weight and beauty have been fastidious in their unwillingness to change.

Works Cited:

Gap Spring Summer 2009. (2009). Retrieved from

Herbozo, S., Tantleff-Dunn, S., Gokee-Larose, J. & Thompson, J. (2004). Beauty and thinness messages in children's media: a content analysis. Eating Disorders. Taylor & Francis. 12. 21-34.

Mernissi, F. (2003). Size six: the western women's harem." Ode Magazine.

Pappas, S. (2011). Preschoolers already think thin is beautiful.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Gender in Cultural Artifacts.  (2013, March 4).  Retrieved August 25, 2019, from

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"Gender in Cultural Artifacts."  4 March 2013.  Web.  25 August 2019. <>.

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"Gender in Cultural Artifacts."  March 4, 2013.  Accessed August 25, 2019.