Published: December 1, 2014
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By: Holly Romine, Cal State San Marcos
Art Historian John Berger describes how women’s knowledge of herself, her sexuality, body image and her role in society is always in reference to how men perceive her. From the Renaissance into contemporary art and media, men look at women and women are subject to the constant appraisal of how they look. Whether being depicted as a mythological goddess or temptress, Madonna or whore, it is the male gaze she draws, and: “she is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself.” (2005: p. 38) In classical art, she is painted in her various roles in society as wife and mother. In this sense, she is akin to the wealth of land her husband owned, her body and beauty being defined by his ability to provide. With printing and photography came the images of men and women being used to advertise merchandise. A beautiful woman would be placed next to the newest gadget to suggest, as Wykes and Gunter point out- buy the product and you get the girl, or to be like this girl you should have the product. This marks a transition of feminine beauty being representative of the wealth of her partner, to women being linked to products. Whether a woman was the subject of a painting as a wife and mother, or an active participant in a consumerist society, through representation of the time, she would be reminded of how she appeared to men, and what was considered most attractive....