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The World of the Beauty Salon - Essay Example

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In the paper “The World of the Beauty Salon” the author analyses the social ritual of beautification as a means to improve one’s appearance, boost confidence, and perhaps become attractive to the opposite sex. Feminists call this another form of gender subjugation…
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The World of the Beauty Salon
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Download file to see previous pages The knee-jerk instinct for the feminist movement, therefore, is to critically appraise this beauty norm in terms of its relationship with power. Bourdieu (2001, p. 1) calls masculine domination and the manner in which it is imposed upon women and suffered by them, a “symbolic violence, a gentle violence, imperceptible and invisible even to its victims” – suggesting perhaps that the patriarchy that imposes its demands upon women had been so entrenched in daily life that it is often difficult to identify, let alone resist. To quote Bourdieu (2001, p. 1): This extraordinarily ordinary social relation thus offers a privileged opportunity to grasp the logic of the domination exerted in the name of a symbolic principle known and recognised both by the dominant and by the dominated – a language (or a pronunciation), a lifestyle (or a way of thinking, speaking and acting) and more generally, a distinctive property, whether emblem or stigma. Bartky, for instance, has noted that the “fashion-beauty complex” is a “major articulation of capitalist patriarchy.” (Bartky, 1982, p. 135). ...
 She has also acquired a gendered habitus which guides her speech, her taste, her way of understanding and relating to the world, and her very sense of being. Less discussed however is how beauty salons reinforce not only gender markers, but also cultural, racial, generational markers. This is where the quote from Black comes in, “(t)he world of the beauty salon is not about beauty. We are not really ever judged according to aesthetics, but rather, aesthetic symbols become signifiers of other categories. Their value is read in classed, racialized, gendered and sexualized terms. (2004, p. 190)”. Taking off from this quote, this paper argues that the beauty salon reinforces aspirations of vertical mobility (e.g., moving from a lower class to higher class, from a perceived inferior race to a perceived superior race) by playing on aesthetic symbols of the categories aspired towards. To this end, this paper looks at the beauty salon as a glorification of the Caucasian ideal: white skin, colored hair (any color other than the black hair color of Asians, indigenous Latin Americans, Africans), slim body structure, and how it reaffirms prevalent racial and class unevenness. Theoretical framework: using intersectionality as the lens analysis Most people often assume that axes of difference and bases of inequality revolve around independent spheres. Gender discrimination, for example, is to be studied separately from class discrimination; race discrimination is to be studied separately from class, and so on and so forth. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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