School & Cosmetics

Belinda Hegelheimer (
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 14:24:40 -0500 (CDT)

Subject: Re: School & Cosmetics (was: Dissertation help)

I am posting this message in response to Barbara's message.

I agree with Barbara that there are still too many instances that emphasize
"female appearance over other attributes", but I disagree that there is a
specific "girls' attention shift into appearance". I believe that girls
should be interested in their appearance as long as they are taught that
appearance should not be their only concern. Interest in physical
appearance is part of the normal developmental process of each child.
Children go through different stages in their lives and one of those is
definitely concern with physical appearance. Boys, just as girls go
through the same stage, but their concern with physical appearance is not
as visible as it is for girls because they do not, usually, wear make-up.
The fact that girls become clearly concerned with their appearance should
not underscore the fact that the same process exists among boys in a more
subtle way. A friend's son in his teens gets worried sick every time he
gets a ( I really mean one) pimple.
I am not so much worried about girls putting make-up on

(Barbara wrote: ">After raising two sons well into the teen years, I
married someone who brought daughters into the family, and am now
witnessing this dynamic first hand. Despite all my gender equity
background, the youngest, who has been with me since kindergarten, is now
13 and very mirror and make-up centered. It's heartbreaking not to be able
to stop it in my own home, although I try not to make a big deal out of it.)

as I am about them realizing that make-up is not the only way to attract
praise and attention. I am also concerned about teaching boys to give
attention to girls not solely on the basis of physical appearance but also
by taking into consideration other factors. If girls and boys learn to
appreciate each other on a wide variety of factors, part of our job, as
educators, will done.
For me, using make-up is just fine as long as it is not the only
standard against which women and girls' worthiness is being measured. A
girl who is concerned both with her looks and her aptitudes, is in my
opinion a more complete person. Appearance should concern us, after all the
first thing that people we interact with see, is our appearance.
Appearance is important; but, concern about appearance should be kept
within certain limits. That's how I see my job as an equity researcher.
How do we raise our children to become more complete, educated citizens?
How do we teach them to accept differences, How do we teach them to value
each other not only on the way they look, but also on what they think, what
they do, what they like, dislike...

Bellinda Hegelheimer
University of Illinois

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