Gender roles and beauty magazines

Essay by rudog August 2004

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One of the most frustrating characteristics of gender roles is that they are prearranged and we are born into them. It would be rare if one were to see a newborn baby girl handed to her mother in a blue blanket because one norm held within society tells us that boys wear blue and girls wear pink. Gender roles prescribe norms, which instruct people to pursue specific careers and lifestyles. Certain roles, behaviors and attitudes constructed by society assign and control how men and women behave and are perceived. Cosmopolitan regularly features stories focused on how to make women beautiful, thin, and desirable to men. Its pages are also full of advice regarding who your Prince Charming will be and how he should and shouldn't treat you. The writers and editors lure women in by strategically placing beautiful images on glossy covers amongst articles that focus on body image, style, and relationships.

The advertisements and articles in Cosmopolitan help fuel assumptions made about the specific roles and abilities of men and women.

Simply glancing at the magazine section, while waiting in the checkout line, any individual, man or woman, is able to make their own assumptions about how they are perceived and how they are supposed to behave from article headlines. February's Cosmopolitan articles included: "Fire up His Desire", "Sexy or Skanky?", "Best Beauty Bargains Ever", "What his Cell Phone Style says about him", and more advice related to fashion and health. These headlines give the impression that its part of a women's role to be obsessed with their image and their relations with men. Not all articles are written for woman though; some specifically instruct the reader to show the article to their boyfriend so he will know what he is and isn't doing correct in the relationship. Men...