The Double Standard for Men and Women Female Beauty over Time
The Focus on Female Beauty from Early Times
Although many people today may feel that society’s culture has now set a double standard between men and women more than ever, history shows that a double standard regarding beauty may have been around since much earlier times. According to the online dictionary, part of the definition of a double standard may be defined as “an unwritten code of sexual behavior permitting men more freedom than women.” Just as the controversial questions on feminine beauty are posed today, so too have the standards of the ideal female been used to oppress women in a male-dominant society led to great debate. From early times, women have been seen to play a matriarchal role in the domestic spheres. They were expected to be maternal figures, high in the number of children they produce, and subservient to their husbands.
In addition to these sexist roles that have fortunately seen a positive change today, even early artwork of women from ancient civilizations reveal the presence of feminine double standards. Just as video games and graphic novels often portray exaggerated (whether that be bigger breasts or thinner waistlines) physical traits of women, women also used to often be shown as such through stone statues and oil paintings. Even the oldest, first known statue of a woman, known as Venus of Willendorf, possessed very large breasts and a maternal figure, suggesting her form acts as a standard to the ideal female image.
The Double Standard for Men and Women Today
Today, the double standard between men and women is much more obvious. While relatively little is seen in social media focusing on male beauty or the male body type, females are almost always under close scrutiny. An example of the double standard for men and women can even be seen in dating; when a man has many female friends, he is admired, but when a woman has many male friends, she is scorned. From makeup commercials to soap advertisements, women are portrayed to be always young and beautiful, happy and content, and possessing good looks. For example, many hair and lotion brands, from L’Oreal to Dove, present women on their main websites with very thin figures, ideal features, and through them certain product expectations that any conditioner or gel can actually create for anyone. This puts a great amount of pressure on the female population, who find it very difficult to compete with these high (and rather foolish) standards.
Even more problematic is that the males who see these commercials and advertisements often then base the women in their own lives on those standards. From Egyptian and Greek roots to Western culture today, females have been and continue to be put under society’s pressure to fit the ideal form of female beauty, especially in the cosmetics area. In order to maintain this ideal face and image and thus fit these double standards, many women today resort to cosmetic surgery, such as rhinoplasty (“nose jobs”), which they should not have to do.
Can Society Change this Double Standard and Stop the Ideal Female Beauty?
Despite society’s current views of the double standard, there is hope to change the culture people live in today regarding the role of the sexes. Many people have already begun to challenge these wrong double standards for men and women and confront the ideal image of female beauty. Female politician and author, Naomi Wolf, even states in her 1991 book, The Beauty Myth, that there may be a “conspiracy culture” that has made females in society focus more on their appearance than on their goals in life so that women will stay insecure and dependent on men.
Although it may seem that changing this wrong double standard for females is a long way off, it is important to note that great progress has been made. Women’s rights are continuing to be fought for every day, and countless ad campaigns and movements are in place to support a healthier, more attainable ideal of female beauty.
Since society has become more aware of the unfair criticism placed on women today to fit into the stereotype of the ideal female body or look, positive progress can be made. By treating both men and women equally, disregarding the double standard between men and women, and focusing instead on the content of female character rather than their physical image, the culture of society can make a change for the better.