The Beauty Myth Essay

590 Words3 Pages
5. Using examples from the reading you have done for this course describe and discuss how the social construction of “beauty” or the “beauty myth” affects women who have been diagnosed with cancer. Throughout history a woman's value has been determined in terms of her physical appearance and ability to mirror a socially constructed idea of beauty that continues within western society. As a result, a woman's body image, feelings of sexual attractiveness, and self-esteem has been negatively influenced by society. Due to society’s creation of unrealistic images of what women are supposed to look like, many women who have lost a breast to cancer with experience a decrease in self-esteem and have other negative emotions. Coming to terms with breast loss and its effect on body image, feminity and self-esteem are major issues confronting women who have lost a breast or both breasts to cancer. Messages from the media, cosmetic surgery and health care profession perpetuate the beauty myth affecting the self-esteem of women diagnosed with breast cancer. The beauty myth says that to be attractive, women need to look a certain way and dress a certain way. Women who have lost their breast to cancer may feel pressured to search for a cure that produces social acceptance. The emphasis on the aesthetic attributions of the breast cancer patient can affect the process if grieving the loss of a breast. Research has shown that women are emotionally attached to their breasts in a number of ways (Lorde, 1980). Society suggests that women's breasts are objects only as they appeal to men. According to Naomi Wolf, the beauty myth "is about men's institutions and institutional power" (as cited in Batt, 2002). The medical profession influences how women feel about their bodies and then give the institution of medicine the upper hand to act on this influence by providing them with the tools
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