Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body by Susan Bordo

Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body by Susan Bordo

Greetings, Class Community. 

We explored the constructions of femininity through the theoretical ideas presented in the chapter, "The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity" by Susan Bordo.  We also discussed how the constructions of femininity operate in popular culture. Then, we discussed how the constructions of femininity and the ways the 'pretty patrol' is expressed in Morrison's The Bluest Eye

In the comments portion of this post, please write two responses of at least two or three sentences.
1. Please identify one or two ways femininity was constructed in Morrison's The Bluest Eye.
2. Please identify and write what the "ideal femininity" in American culture looks like. Then provide examples; describe how femininity is constructed and 'patrolled' in our society.   

Your working abstract/paper proposal should be emailed to me by Monday, March 3, 2014.  The abstract should be 250-300 words long and include a research question, research component (a description of the research method you would like to use) and a brief description of the longer paper. 

Yours truly, 

Dr. Hill 


  1. 1. One way in which Morrison's The Bluest Eye constructs femininity is that it relates to whiteness. To be feminine is to attain whiteness. The act looking white or passing as white is emphasized in characters like Maureen and Pecola, though they are two extremes of the spectrum at attaining whiteness they both are alike in that white looking or passing whiteness is something that is attractive and good because of the framework of how society caters to and promotes white femininity/beauty.

    2. The ideal femininity in American cultures looks thin, high cheek bones, modest breast size and either is white or looks close to white and also youthful. For example, celebrities of all colors tend to play in the trend of looking white or being lightened to look more white, prime example is Beyonce. White femininity has been constructed social historically and our society holds women of color to these white female standards of femininity so in result celebrities of color are being patrolled to hold this societal notion of white femininity through lightening them in pictures.

  2. 1. Femininity was constructed based on "whiteness" in the book The Bluest Eye. Many of the characters loooked up to Shirley Temple, played with White dolls or felt that if they had blue eyes life would be better. It seemed as if the character Marlene Peele had it a littld easier in school because she did reach close to whiteness; she was lighter skin with long hair, green eyes, and dressed very well compared to the other students, many of the students assumed she was rich and better than them because of this.

  3. 2. Women in America, according to society, should be tall, thin, have long hair, long eyelashes, small nose, big eyes and be either white or lighter skin; basically women should look like barbie or a model. Femininity is constructed through size, them being silent, and ornamentation. These are characteristics that society has created for the ideal woman to look like. Society patrols this through the media, showing what a woman is "supposed" to look like in order to be desired; the rest of society attempts to reach the ideal level of beauty by altering themselves, like through surgery.

  4. 1. Femininity was constructed by sex and by whiteness. The characters who appeared to be white or lighter skin/pretty eyes were admired for being beautiful which is attributed to their whiteness.
    Sexuality was linked to the whiteness because with Pecola when she was raped she felt like she had finally gained her whiteness which made he so attractive that her father would want her. With the women who lived upstairs they constantly used sexuality to get things they wanted seeing how they were prostitutes.
    2. In our society women are expected to look a certain way and also that in some ways its better for all women to look more so alike than each woman having her own look.
    Women are expected to be lighter skin, colored eyes, thin, curvy hips, flat stomach round butt but not too big, exotic looking but not too ethnic, having longer hair is seen as more feminine and something that can "make" someone more beautiful. In America it is patrolled by seeing people that adults and children look up. Most people that are in the media are thinner and fit into the ideal image of beauty. It sets the standard of success. Like Jalyn and Akila said the media makes society want to look like what they are displaying but they change so many things like lightning skin and toning thighs with photo shop and with celebrities having work done.