Since the twentieth century women have been
seen by society as having to have a slender body, wear makeup, have the latest
hairstyles and dress in the latest’s fashions to be recognized as attractive
(Bordo 2017: 79). Accomplishing all of this makes women feel like they have
self-confidence, willpower and personal value. Even today woman feel the need
to exercise vigorously, go on a diet to stay thin and dress in the fashions we
see advertised in order to feel good about themselves. Susan Bordo’s article The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity
focuses on the pressures placed on women and the ways in which women struggle
with these pressures. All of this pressure can cause women to lose control and
develop illnesses like anorexia, agoraphobia and hysteria.
Women face many pressures from society like the
expectation to be perfect. Susan Bordo believes that this pressure along with
all of the other things that women have to deal with can lead to a disorder
called anorexia. Anorexia is a disorder in which women have a desire to lose
weight by refusing to eat. Women think if they change their body size they are
able to gain male power and self-control (Sully 2012). Also, our culture
advertises women with a slender body which makes women feel like they have to
be as skinny as the models in the magazines. When the media places skinny women
next to a muscular man it shows women as fragile with lack of power in the
presence of a male (Bordo 2017: 81). As women gain power in their life their
bodies suffer. An anorexic woman and a housewife share similarities like feeding
and nurturing others before themselves. They find feeding themselves first as
greedy (Bordo 2017: 81). Susan Bordo believes that women are hungry for public
power, for independence and sexual gratification because of what is expected of
them (Bordo 2017: 81). Society needs to stop creating an unrealistic image of
what women should look like so women don’t feel the need to be perfect.
Agoraphobia began to rise in women in the 1950’s
and the 1960’s when the perfect woman was expected to take care of the home
along with their babies and their husband (Bordo 2017: 81). Agoraphobia is a
disorder where one avoids situations that might make them panic and feel
trapped. Women spent so much time inside the home not socializing with other
people that they became afraid of doing anything outside of the house. They
lost the ability to be social. That same ideal image of femininity was shown
in TV shows and movies in that era which made women look like they were non-assertive
and useless without a man (Bordo 2017: 81). Women spent so much time in the
home that they felt restricted and controlled.
Hysteria is a loss of emotional control that
was considered a women’s disease. Women tried to live up to society’s
expectations of being perfect all the time that sometimes they became
hysterical. They thought they needed to do more or be more than who they really
were to prove their worth in the world. A woman would rush
to get everything done in the house before her husband came home from work like
the cooking and the cleaning to try to please her husband or be the ideal image
of a woman. Women would
get nervous and get the shakes and sometimes even faint (Bordo 2017: 80). Their moods would change suddenly for any reason
(Bordo 2017: 80). These are signs of hysteria.
Hysteria prevented women from effectively completing their role of being a wife
and caretaker to their husband and children. Basically, when women become
hysterical they become the ideal image of the male-controlled culture (Bordo 2017: 80).
Bordo’s article The Body and the Reproduction
of Femininity says that society uses cultural images to control women.
Women are expected to follow these images by wearing makeup, doing their hair, wearing
the right clothes and following the latest diet fad. When women put too much
pressure on themselves trying to do all of what society expects of them they
can experience illnesses like anorexia, agoraphobia and hysteria. Women need to stop
being dependent on the male figure, have their own career, stop trying to be
like the images they see on the media and just be who they want to be, the best
version of themselves.