How Beauty is a Burden

Essay by omniromHigh School, 11th gradeA, February 2008

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There’s no denying it -- everyone wants to be beautiful. A simple flip through any magazine confirms this as beauty ads for new hair products, cosmetics, and fashion fill every other page. However, beauty is not free, as it comes with a hefty price. Beauty causes people to suffer, so much so, that in the most extreme cases, the pursuit of beauty can be considered torture. Through looking at the evolution of beauty as well as a few author’s opinions of the subject matter, it will become clear just how much of a burden beauty really is.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a common saying that holds true in all senses. Beauty has evolved dramatically, and what was once considered beautiful is now passé. According to “A Wound in the Face” by Angela Carter, the application of makeup has evolved from a layer almost an inch thick, to none at all, and even to small floral designs.

Carter also comments that beauty is forever changing in an almost cyclic pattern: “like fashion and clothes, fashion and faces have been stuck in pastiche for the past four or five years. This bankruptcy is disguised by ever more ingenious pastiche of the thirty’s, the forty’s, the fifty’s, the Middle East, Xanadu, and Wessex knows smocks.” However, even though beauty has changed dramatically, one thing remain consistent -- the fact that beauty is a huge burden.

According to Susan Brownmiller’s “Femininity”, beauty causes women to become “inferior” to men. This is because society’s expectations require that a “beautiful woman” focus solely on love: “A requirement of femininity is that a woman devote her life to love—to mother love, to romantic love, to religious love, to amorphous, undifferentiated caring.” The fact that women must devote their lives to love...