The title of my FYP is 'Are American women still enthralled by the beauty myth?'
I am going to employ a case study methodology, I will do this be examining a variety of cultural products to show how they might be said to represent ideal representations of American femininity. I will explore if it is affecting modern women more so now than ever before.
With my first chapter I will focus on how the beauty culture and women in contemporary media looking at magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Vogue. I will contrast this analysis of print culture with an examination of such TV series as Extreme makeover where women are transformed into completely different people, through various means of surgery, dental work and make up in order to be deemed 'beautiful' by American society.
Having laid out the basis of my final year project I will contrast the main stream reps of chapter one with an analysis of how the beauty myth in the modern culture affects women of ethnic minorities in particular looking at African American women. I will do this by looking at the works of writers such as bell hooks and Alice walker. But also looking at how African American women are represented in the media. For example on Cosmopolitan’s web page out of 139 magazines covers shown in a gallery only 4 of the women were African America and two are of the same person.
In the final chapter I will question the critical orthodoxy as detailed by Wolf and others that the beauty myth as negative force. I will use and give proper bibliographic information By looking at articles such as 'the beauty myth is no myth' which argues that wolf is wrong in claiming that the beauty myth has been created by society and that it is in fact down to natural selection and science and is no myth at all but a inevitably reality in western society.
As Peiss mentions in Hope in a jar, the cosmetics industry grew after World War I and since the 20’s the expectations of beauty for women have been around, the beauty myth is nothing new.
Women now use their femininity to manipulate the Beauty myth in order to get ahead. Evidence the beauty myth can is a positive aspect of contemporary American society.I will use my conclusion to balance out all arguments and come to what I feel the beauty myth means for American women today
I feel my chosen FYP topic is appropriate as an American studies topic as it is an American issue. The ideals of what most western countries consider 'beauty' have stemmed from America and it is the country where plastic surgery and the cosmetics industry has grown dramatically.
With companies profiting billions of dollars a year from women's insecurities, it seems very American.