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and Liz Grauerholz Source: Gender and Society, Vol. 17, No. 5 (Oct., 2003), pp. 711-726 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3594706 Accessed: 18/04/2010 15:20
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andsomethingall women shouldstriveto achieveandmaintainimportant is of particularinterest to feminist scholars. which emphasize such things as women's passivityandbeauty.THE PERVASIVENESSAND PERSISTENCE OF THE FEMININE BEAUTYIDEAL IN CHILDREN'S FAIRY TALES LORIBAKER-SPERRY Illinois University Western LIZGRAUERHOLZ Purdue University Thisstudyadvances understanding how a normativefeminine beautyideal is maintainedthroughculof turalproductssuch asfairy tales. 30-31) referred as of culturalrepresentations genderand embodimentof gengenderimagery-"the der in symbolic language and artistic productionsthat reproduceand legitimate gender statuses. Grimm brothers. While the feminine beauty ideal is viewed largely as an oppressive.g. GENDER & SOCIETY. Sleeping Beauty) withthose thathave not to determinewhethertales thathave beenpopularizedplace moreemphasison women'sbeauty. subordinates it is acknowledged that many women willingly engage in "beauty rituals"and AUTHORS' NOTE: The authors thank Janet Wilmoth.Thesefindings are interpretedin light of changes in women'ssocial status over thepast 150 years and the increasedimportanceofestablishingforms of normativesocial controlto maintaina gender system. anonymousreviewers their insightfulcommentsand help on earlier draftsof this article.devalues. fairy tales. the authorsexplorethe extentand ways in which 'feminine beauty"is highlighted. Bordo 1993.g. 5. Authors'namesare listed alphabetically. Bartky1990. in The presentstudyfocuses on one prominent message thatis represented many children'sfairy tales: the feminine beauty ideal.Snow White. social control to The institutionof genderrelies in parton whatLorber(1994. The feminine beauty ideal-the socially constructednotion that physical attractivenessis one of women's most assets. 15 No.theycomparethose tales thathave survived(e..patriarchal practicethatobjectifies.Susan and for Sprecher.Both authorsmade equal contributionsto this article.. Keywords: beauty."Children'sfairy tales. Rachel Einwohner.1177/0891243203255605 ? 2003 Sociologists for Womenin Society 711 . Using BrothersGrimm'sfairytales. October2003 711-726 DOI: 10.Vol.Next. Freedman1986. Cinderella.Thefindings suggest thatfemininebeautyis a dominantthemeand that tales with heavy emphasesonfeminine beautyare muchmorelikelyto have survived.areindeed genderedscriptsand serveto legitimatizeandsupport the dominantgender system.Debra Street. Wolf 1991).and women (e.
11). THE SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE OF FEMININE BEAUTY Beauty. We begin by investigatingthe pervasivenessof feminine beautyin the Grimms'fairy tales. A further paradoxof the femininebeautyideal is thatin a patriarchalsystem. making externalforces less necessary." And Dellinger and Williams (1997) found that women who wearmakeupin the workplaceareseen as heterosexual. Currie 1997.712 GENDER & SOCIETY / October 2003 perceive being (or becoming) beautifulas empowering.as well as the culturaland social significanceof beauty to women's lives.power.occupies a centralrole in many women's lives. In the case of the beauty ideal. women who achieve a high degree of attractiveness psychologically and socially rewarded are and Williams 1997.Bordo (1993." The social importanceof the feminine beauty ideal lies in its ability to sustain and to reproducegender inequality (Bartky 1990. Freedman1986. Adolescent girls in (Dellinger Currie's(1997. This study investigatesthe extent to which the feminine beauty ideal has persisted over nearly 150 years by examining its pervasiveness.472) studyreportedthat"feelinggood aboutthemselves"depended on "looking good.healthier.and dress are "centralorganizingprinciples of time and space in the day of manywomen."It remainsone of the majormeansby which adolescent girls and women gain social statusand self-esteem (Backmanand Adams 1991. We then analyzetales accordingto whether they survivedinto the twentiethcenturyand explore the extent to which women's in beautypredominates these survivingtales. As notedby Freedman (1986. 816) also noted that "normative controlguaranteesto those women who comply with its demandssafe passage in the world"and that women who do not comply are somehow punished. In this way.andmorecompetent than those who do not.andculture. women internalizenormsandadoptbehaviorsthatreflect andreinforcetheirrelativepowerlessness. Those who unsuccessfully attempt to achieve the . in children'sfairytales. makeup. This studyof beauty'ssignificancein children's fairy tales can provide insight into the dynamic relationshipbetween gender. especiallyrelativelyaffluentEuro-American andenergyto expendon acquiredbeauty. "womenareaware thatbeauty counts heavily with men and they thereforework hardto achieve it. those women who seek or gain power throughtheir attractiveness are often those who are most dependenton men's resources. Hatfield and Sprecher 1986).time.SuitorandReavis 1995). 816).or the pursuitof beauty. The feminine beautyideal can be seen as a normativemeans of social of controlwhereby social control is accomplishedthroughthe internalization values andnormsthatserve to restrictwomen's lives (Fox 1977).and tracingits survival. Wolf 1991). 167) arguedthatthe beauty regimes of diet.Value constructssuch as "nice girl" or "femininebeauty"operateas normativerestrictionsby limiting women's for personalfreedom and laying the "groundwork a circumscriptionof women's for power and control in the world"(Fox 1977. potential Fox (1977.not oppressive (Dellinger andWilliams 1997). women who have the resources.
Baker-Sperry.or fail to try at all. laws). as women ing have gainedgreaterlegal andeconomic power(FlexnerandFitzpatrick1996).Accordand ing to Pescosolido. Unquestionably. One of the most useful sets of culturalproductsfor investigatingculturalmotifs and values is children's stories. Dellinger and Williams 1997).or remainedstableover time in children'sfairytales. is restrictionprevails.comparedto earlierperiods. which accordingto Bettelheim(1962) area majormeansby which childrenassimilateculture. Williams 2000). Grauerholz.there is likely to be a greaterreliance on normative controls via value constructssuch as the beautyideal. 807) suggestedthatwherenormative that "findan elaborationof socializationstructures conduce towardthe internalization"of suchvalues.However. we would expect to see an increased emphasis on beauty in these tales as women's legal. and social conditionshave tendedto improve.Indeed. Grauerholz / BEAUTY IN FAIRY TALES 713 standard. 444). "theintendedclarityand moralcertaintywith which adultsprovidechildrenwith tales of theirworld offer a fortuitousopportunityto examine social relationsand belief systems. THE IMPORTANCE OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE Culturalproductsembodysocietal values andprovidea meansto observe shifts in suchvalues (Schudson 1989).research on issues such as women's poverty. have remained relatively stagnant (Bianchi 1999. and sexual victimization suggests that conditions for many women. If the femininebeautyideal operates as a type of normativesocial control.middle.intensified.we explorewhetherthe beautyideal has diminished. are viewed more negatively (Bartky 1990. immigrant women. it may not be necessary to rely heavily on normativecontrols. Russo 2001.one is likely to Fox (1977. For these women.the devaluationof women's work. Notably. . Thus. as women gain greatersocial statusand to independence.especially since the 1970s. This is not to suggest thatwomen'sprogresshas been uncontestedor consistentoverthe twentiethcenturyor thatall women have enjoyedimprovedstatus. In otherwords.the group that has reaped the most benefits is white. Milkie (1997.we would expectto findthese valuesexpressedin media."Children's literature especially useful for studyingvalueconstructssuch as the beautyideal. legal. and poor women. and social status we improves. That is.as women's at structural interpersonal genderinequality status in society is enhanced. economic. when or where women's lives are highly restrictedvia externalmeans (e. economic. Williams 2000).. especially women of color. especially those marketedtowardchildren. heterosexual. In this study.this is precisely the groupof women to whom the femininebeautyideal is directedandthatis depicted in children'sfairy tales. wouldpredictgreateremphasison women'sbeautydurthe latterpartof the twentiethcentury.g.and upper-classwomen (Sorensen 1991.In particular. Reliance on normativemeans of social control is likely to vary dependingon how contested the gender terrainis.relianceon normativecontrolsbecomes moreimportant maintain and levels.
They suggestedthat children'smediaboth reflect and are shapedby shifting social and power relations for among groups.is not whether these fairy tales contain stereotypicimages (they do) but ratherwhetherwomen's role in fairy tales duringcertaintime peribeautyappearsto play a more important as a means of normativesocial control. Lennon.714 GENDER & SOCIETY / October 2003 Research since the early 1970s has shown that children's literaturecontains explicit and implicit messages about dominantpower structuresin society.If normativesocial control is more critical during timeswhen manywomenhavegainedgreatersocial power.however. Furthermore. We first documentthe prominenceof a feminine beauty ideal and the ways in whichbeautyis presentedin these tales. 1972). in Of course. Ourmainconcern. were reproduced books andfilms) into thetwentieth centuryand whetherthose that survivedplaced greateremphasis on women's we beautythan those thatdid not survive. Today. The 1930s and 1940s saw some decline in sales..respectable. Milkie (1997) foundthatduringperiods and of intense racial conflict and significant political gains by African Americans. Grauerholz.As such. we document ods. We chose a classic set of children'sliterature-fairy tales written by the Grimm brothers in the nineteenth century-to investigatethe extent to which the pervasivenessof the feminine beauty ideal has shiftedover time. at least those thatsurvivedinto the twentiethcentury. althoughit was duringthis time period (1932) that Western Printing and Lithographing Company-the largest . it is possible to study children'sliterature insight into and social struggles over time.arereadby childrenacross varioussocial class andracialgroups (Zipes 1997). Crabb and and Bielawski 1994. possibly serving in whichtales have survived(i. especially those concerning gender (Clark. and Morris 1993.we wouldexpecta large increase in reproductionsof tales that focus on women's beauty duringthe latter half of the twentiethcentury. there was an increase in the productionof children's books (Tebbel 1978). 1988b). changes Whenpublishinghouses firstestablishedseparatechildren'ssections around1920.Weitzmanet al.and attractiveto a genderedvalues and attimarriagepartnerand to teach boys and girls appropriate tudes (Zipes 1988a.e. Fairytales writtenduringthe eighteenthand nineteenthcenturieswere intendedto teach girls and young women how to become domesticated. examine the time periods when tales were reproduced. class. and gender systems.these tales. Researchby Pescosolido. while continuing to contain symbolic imagery that legitimates existing race.we wouldexpect some variation the numberof reproductions given in the children'sbook publishing industryduringthe twentieth century.Kortenhaus Demarest1993. These tales were originallyused as primersfor relativelyaffluent Europeanchildren and served to impart moral lessons to them (Zipes 1988a). Children'smedia have been found to be powerfully responsive to social change and not simply in a way that mirrorssociety. But these messages arenot static.we investigatethe genderedmessages concerningfeminine beautyas containedin children'smedia.Thus. political important In the presentstudy. Black characters virtuallydisappearedfromchildren'sbooks.
we sought an overall measure of the relative importanceof physical appearancefor . translated Jack of experton and translator folk andfairytales.Althoughwe were not of specificallyconcernedwith variationsby age. we coded the numberof references to "beauty"for younger women. and older men (younger women/men include both young adults and children). Thus. and contains 250 tales. The Zipes.Baker-Sperry. and each tale was coded by Baker-Sperry. Turow 1978).fairest. published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in 1857. Tales were excluded from our analysis if they contained only nonhumans. information was obtainedfromeach taleconcerningthe numberof times female ormale characters arereferredto as beautiful. as the baby boom marketincreasedsales andinterestin children'sreading. Grauerholz / BEAUTY IN FAIRY TALES 715 lithographiccompanyandpublisherof children'sbooks in the world-entered into an exclusive contractwith WaltDisney Inc. it providescriticalinsight into ways in which children'sliterafairy ture has been shapedby political and social forces over time and yet continuesto provide traditionalgenderedprescriptionsfor children. Thus. Finally. Finally. older women.a subsetof tales (20) was coded by two separatecoders-one womanandone man-who werefamiliarwith the goals of this research. As such. DATA AND METHOD The dataused in this studyarebased on writtentexts containedin TheComplete by Fairy Talesof the BrothersGrimm(Grimmand Grimm 1992). a leading contemporary and used in this studyis based on the seventhedition of Children Housetranslation hold Tales.or handsome. the doublestandard aging (Sontag 1976) and culturalassociationsof beauty with youth would lead us to expect that the age (as well as gender) of a characterwould shape messages aboutattractiveness. Children'sbook publishingincreasedsignificantlyduringthe 1950s and 1960s. such as since the 1970s. because "beauty"is so gender specific.The agreement among coders for each variableused in the study was 90 percentor higher.or shortdescriptionsbut no storyor had neverbeen translated until the 1990s. andfederalaid was madeavailablefor librarymaterials(Gottlieb 1978. This study represents one of the few attemptsto analyze long-termchanges in children'sliterature of andthe only one to offer a historicalanalysisof thereproduction a beautyideal in tales. check for reliability. the growth in children's book publishing subsided (Gottlieb 1978). to produceits books (Gottlieb 1978. Toexplorethe prevalenceof the femininebeautyideal in these tales. younger men. into simple rhymes. To The unit of analysis is the tale. by the 1970s. our data representthe populationof Grimms'fairy English and tales (N = 168) thatcontainhumancharacters storiesandwere availablein English in the 1800s.we arenot interestedin whetherreproductions tales follow these general patternsbut in whether those tales that highlight a feminine beauty ideal actually had increased reproductionsduring periods when normative control would be more necessary. Tebbel 1978).pretty. of In the presentstudy.
and Media Review before Digest (MediaReview Digest 2002). We also comparethe averagenumberof referencesto physicalbeautybetweenyounger men and younger women and between older women and younger women.and the same for women's beauty and men's handsomeness (for readability.cannot tap the subtle but powerful messages surrounding beauty.. Finally. Such questions. to determine which tales had survived since the mid-1800s. body type.We provide excerpts from varioustales obtainedthroughthe discourse analysis to illustratesuch more subtle messages aboutbeautyportrayedin these tales. we also employed qualitativediscourse analysis (van Dijk 1985) to examine such associations with beauty. however. illustrator.booksinprint. Eighteenprimarysources. Fromthese sources.we asked several general questions. Regressionanalysis was used to determinewhetherthe numberof references to women's or men's appearance. such as. 1900 Primarilyfor Children(Baldwin Library 1981). video. were consultedto documentwhethera particular Grimms'fairy tale had been reproducedin book or film from the time of its date translator/narrator.eye color). looks.That is.We theneliminated duplicatesfrom those coded.if so.simple descriptivestatisticswere computedto explorethe extentto which a femininebeautyideal is evidentin these tales andwhetherit differsby group. beauty. and.or handsomenessin a tale is related To to how manytimes a tale has been reproduced. informationon the numberof times a tale had been reproduced(in a children'sbook. tion. was been reproduced still 0 butcould be includedin the analysis. "Isbeautyor desirabilitythe cause?"(yes/no).the dependentvariablewas logged. includingthose thathadneverbeenreproduced (andthereforehad a value of 0). andpublisherwere codedfor each tale listedin these references. or film) was obtained. we explore the extent to which there are more referencesto women's physical appearanceor men's physical appearance. and beauty and danger. along with variations(Straussand Corbin 1998). physical strength.Thus. attractiveness. clothing. of publicapublicationin 1857 to 2000. and so forth (e.g. the value of 1 was addedto all originalenuBecause the log of I is 0. beauty and goodness. we tale consultednumeroussourcesto documentwhethera particular survivedin the form of a book or film.com/). Touse all tales. beauty and race. To explore cultural associations with beauty.716 GENDER & SOCIETY / October 2003 We male andfemale characters. correctfor skewness.We also controlled for numberof pages becausereferencesto physicalbeautyarelikely to be relatedto . These data were coded separatelyby genderbut not age. "Are there instances where dangeror harm is associated with beauty or desirability?" (yes/no). Discourse analysis allows for the identificationof patternsor themes. "Istherea clear link between beautyand goodness?"(yes/no). Title. the value for tales thathadnot merationsof reproduction. obtainedinformationon the numberof references which includedreferenceto any aspectof his to a character's physical appearance.includingthe associationsbetweenbeautyandeconomic privilege. severalpatternsemerged.This variablerangedfrom 0 to 332. First. In our analysis. throughoutthis article we use the term womento referto both girls andwomen andmento referto bothboys andmen).such as Bowker'sBooks in Print Indexto the BaldwinLibraryofBooks in English (http://www. or her body.
1901 to 1920.and appearance were mentionedin a tale were then analyzed. phyphysical appearances siques. andthis is trueregardlessof theirgender or age (see Table 1).25 and 0. women's victimization(yes/no). Thereis no substantivegenderdifferencein the numberof times physical appearance mentioned is numberof times thatphysical appearance mentionedin referenceto is (the average men is 6.to determinewhetherthe reproduction tales variedoverthe twentieth we examineddescriptivedataon reproductions six time periods:before for century.we coded whethera tale containeda romantictheme (yes/no). the averageis 14. we created a variabletime period thatranges from 0 to 6 and representsthe time period when most reproductionsoccurred(0 = never reproduced. etc.what is strikingis the way in which women's . older women (0.6 (among those stories that have at least one mention. In particular. To determine statistically whether tales that glorify women's beauty were more likely to have been reproducedin the latterperiods than those thatdo not. 2 = 1901-20. 1961 to 1980.02) combined. 1900. and older men (0.whereasthe range for women is 0 to 114.20).e. and 1981 to 2000.5).6).Althoughthe actualnumberof referencesto younger women's beautyis not all thatgreat.Grauerholz BEAUTYIN FAIRYTALES 717 / Baker-Sperry. clothing.and the average numberof times per story is 13.Table 1 indicates that women's beauty is highand lighted more thanmen's attractiveness thatbeautyplays a moredominantrole for youngerwomen thanfor olderones.17) outnumbersthose of younger men (0. butthereis a notabledifferencein therangeof references for men and women. The numberof referencesto men's physical appearance ranges from 0 to 35 per story. FINDINGS and PhysicalAppearance Beautyin FairyTales Thereis frequentmentionof characters' (theirlooks.08).21 for referencesto men's handsomeness). The average numberof references to younger women's beauty in all tales (1.handsomeness. 94 percentof the tales make some mention of physical appearance.. We exploredwhetherotherfactorsmightexplainthe survivalof tales.thereareapproximately times five morereferencesto women's beautyper tale thanto men's handsomeness(the average numberof referencesto women is 1. For instance.) in these fairy tales. 1 = men's or women's victimization only. men's victimization(yes/no). of Finally. Overall.). the length of the tale (i. longer tales are more likely to elaborateon physical attributes). More detailedexaminationof physicalbeauty/handsomeness genderandage by reveals some interestingpatterns. 1921 to 1940. Correlations od andnumberof times beauty.1 = before 1900. 1941 to 1960. orbothtypes of violence (0 = no victimization.the mean value was assignedfor thatcase.0 andfor women is 7. If a tale was reproducedan equal numberof times in two or more betweentime periperiods. etc. and 2 = both men's and women's victimization in tale).
"Awidow had two daughters.74 referencesto theirbeauty. and 17 percentassociateugliness with evil). 5." pleased youwant return When wasopened themaiden it and maiden thehandandledherto a largedoor.53 0. For male characters.andall thegold stuck herso thatshebecame completely said "Iwant tohavethisbecause havebeensoindustrious.02). both daughtershave the opportunityto work for Mother Holle.31 7.The storybegins.14. 57 percentdescribedthem as "pretty.02 SD 14. While staying with Mother Holle.11 0.11 beautyis mentioned." on averagethereare 1. to down. and between ugliness and evil (31 percentof all stories associate beauty with goodness. the beautiful and industriousdaughter admittedthat she was homesick: that to Mother Holleresponded.20 0. 566).Oftenthereis a clear link between beauty and goodness.56 2.2 percentof tales that containolder women make referenceto By contrast. andin TheGoose Girl at the Springa young womanis said to be "so beautiful that the entire world considered her a miracle"(Grimm and Grimm 1992. 96)..only theirbeauty.55 0.Shetookthe "I'm home." or and "beautiful.7 of the tales with oldermen characters describethem as handsome(average percent numberof referencesis 0.65 0. As the tale unfolds.3 percent of the tales that contain younger men describe them as "handsome" (averagenumberof referenceswas 0. by an of the shower goldcamepouring wasstanding rightbeneath doorway. to Discourseanalysesrevealseveralthemesin relationship beauty.10 2. enormous covered withit.17 0. MotherHolle incorpoone ratesboth of these themes.the otherugly and lazy" (Grimmand Grimm 1992..718 GENDER & SOCIETY / October 2003 TABLE1: Average Number of References to Physical Appearance and Beauty/ Handsomeness by Character's Gender and Age for All Books All Tales (N = 168) Reference Women'sappearance Men'sappearance Women'sbeauty Men'shandsomeness women's beauty Younger Olderwomen'sbeauty Youngermen's handsomeness Oldermen's handsomeness n 7." Mother Holle.56 6. Only 1. Of the tales thatcontainyoungerwomen.." "thefairest. most often in reference to younger women. you you and 1992.25). 18. 286).in ThePink Flower a maidenis describedas "so beautifulthat no paintercould ever have made her look more beautiful"(Grimm andGrimm1992.97) (Grimm Grimm .21 1.with the averagenumberof referencesto older women's beautybeing 0.Forinstance.25 0. who was beautifuland industrious.00 1.08 0.
the motheranddaughterare"cursed" and Manytales connotegoodness with industriousness. Anothertheme identified throughthe discourse analysis.lack of beauty is punished. These issues almost exclusively concern female characters.and the role feminine beautyplays in moving the story along. as evidenced by the exampleof MotherHolle.andcharactersare "rewarded" theirhardwork (Cinderellais anotherclassic example). is thatbeauty is sometimes linkedto race and class. Finally. In sum. it is also a sourceof danger. thesecond day evenmore. 89 percentinvolve harmto women. The murderousactions remindreadersof the symbolic lengthssome women go to takenby the stepmother maintainor acquirebeauty. Althoughbeautyis oftenrewardedin Grimms'tales.it is women's beauty that is emphasized in terms of the numberof references to beauty.beautybecomes associatednot only with goodness butalso with whiteness and economic privilege.. She was forcedto runawayfromthe castle because her father"fell passionatelyin love with her and said to his councillors.Mother was beneath doorway. Holle shestarted and loafing.. Such was the case for the princessin All Fur who was "so beautifulthat her equal could not be found anywhereon earth" (GrimmandGrimm1992..99) Thus. while beauty is often rewarded. lazy daughterbegan her work for MotherHolle. . The in "lazy"daughter MotherHolle is coveredin (black)pitch. as themaiden standing downon herheadinstead gold. lazymaiden became that quitehappyto go andexpected now the showerof gold wouldcome. the BlackBride. 196). Althoughthe tales arenot devoidof referencesto men's beauty. 258). 'I'm going to marrymy daughter'" (Grimmand Grimm 1992. Fortypercentof these acts of victimization are the direct result of the character'sphysical appearance. SoonMother .. all did not go as well: an to and Hollewhentheold Onthefirstdayshemade effort workhard obeyMother of told to On woman herwhat do.In TheWhiteBrideand with blacknessandugliness. bothwith beauty.the king married was beautifulbut proudand haughty. Thepitchdidnot of kettleof pitchcamepouring and and on comeoff themaiden remained heras longas shelived..Baker-Sperry.in 17 percentof the stories therearelinks between beautyandjealousy. for In this way. big the a but Holleledherto thedoor.and she could not tolerateanyone else who might rival her beauty"(Grimmand Grimm 1992.(Grimm Grimm 1992.the ways it is portrayed.who beautyfor women:"Whena yearhadpassed.orhandsomeness. onthethird sheloafed day her The was tired thisanddismissed maiden of the from service. there are examples of women who must flee or disguise themselves for protectionbecause they are so beautiful. Grauerholz / BEAUTY IN FAIRY TALES 719 When the ugly.Snow White offers strong messages concerning competition among women and the importanceof another woman.forthethought goldwasonhermind. 260). messages concerning feminine beauty pervade these fairy tales. Of the tales in which dangeror harmis associatedwith physical attractiveness (28 percentof all tales).For instance.
93) andmuchhigherthanthe averagenumberof references nonreproduced tales (0.43 (25.11 for women.50 0.of the top five most reproducedtales-those that have been reproducedmore than 100 times-there are two exceptions to the "beautyrule": were docuLittleRed Cap or LittleRed RidingHood.15).6 for top five).g. for which 227 reproductions and Hansel and Gretel.8 for the top five) andthose referencesfor men's decline (0.11 0.2) (see Table2).the referencesto women'sbeautyandwomen'sappearance muchhigher referencesto beautyfor the top threevs. Because references to men's handsomenessand older women's beauty are so low (e. (8.720 / GENDER& SOCIETY October2003 TABLE 2: References to Beauty/Handsomeness/Physical Appearance. 41.41 6.which trails the othertales at 143 reproductions. and Hansel and Gretel-constitute more thantwo-thirds(72.70 1.60 7. .7 percent)of all reproductions. by Gender. Briar Rose (also known as Sleeping Beauty). In termsof beauty. to men's handsomenessin reproduced Table 2 groups tales accordingto the numberof times they have been reproduced. 98.In fact. Note thatthereareno refappearance erences to men's handsomenessin any of the top five tales.30 8. Thereareno referencesto women'sor men's beautyin Hansel and GretelandLittle Red Cap. There are many more references to women's physical appearancesin reproducedversusnonreproduced tales (11.60 8.3 vs. in Hansel and Gretelthere are morereferencesto men's appearance (8) thanwomen's appearance When analysesareconductedonjust the top (5). which is more than twice the number in tales (0.15 5. 2.20 0 8.20 0.37 33. just 5 fairy tales-Cinderella.7 referencesto (12 for appearance the top threevs. In fact. LittleRed Cap (also known as Little Red RidingHood). 7. The most frequentlyreproducedtale is Cinderella. andthis is somewhattruefor referencesto men's physical appearance vs. 6.80 2. three most reproducedtales.67 for topthreevs.37) andnonreproduced tales (0. 33.for which 332 reproductionswere recorded..15). in Tales according to Times Reproduced All Tales Ever Reproduced Reference (n = 43) Tales Reproduced 101 or More Times (n = 5) Tales Reproduced Between 1 and 100 Times (n = 38) Tales Never Reproduced (n = 125) Women'sappearance Men'sappearance Women'sbeauty Men'shandsomeness 11.8 percentof all tales have no mentionof older men's handsomeness). 5.2 for the top five. Snow White. which eliminates Little Red Cap and Hansel and are Gretel. mented.93 0.0 the averagenumberof referencesto women's beautyin those tales thathave been reproduced is 2.6 percent)havebeen reproducedin children's books or movies.00 2.15 SocialReproduction the Feminine of BeautyIdeal Of the 168 tales analyzed. Interestingly.
Preliminaryanalyses suggested that it was appropriate do so since there is no interactioneffect between age and gender with respect to or appearance beauty.the averagenumberof reproductions true versus24.01 ns ns ns ns ns . The resultspresentedin Table3 indicatethateven aftercontrollingfor length of the tale.women's victimization.as does women's physical appearance.014 . This is particularly for the .The generalpresence of violence or men's victimizationwas not linked to reproductions.For before 1900 was 4. but women's victimizationbecomes nonsignifiis cantwhen numberof reproductions regressedon women's beauty. and older and younger women. referencesto women's beautyare associatedwith the likelihoodthata tale has been reproduced manytimes. as is the numberof referencesto women's physiFor cal appearance.Furthermore.thereis a moderatebivariatecorrelationbetweenwomen's victimizationand numberof reproductions(.031 .043 .07 (SD = 10.046 . men.176 .Baker-Sperry.andpages (andwomen's beautyremainssignificant).045 . to perform to the regressionanalyses.039 .086 . over time revealsan interestingpattern.005 .043 .255 .196 .79 between 1981 and 2000 (SD = 51. physical handsomenessand appearanceare not signifinor cantly relatedto a tale's reproduction.The vast Examinationof reproductions majorityof tales were reproducedin the latter partof the twentieth century.079 . is length of a tale.007 .099 .72). Grauerholz / BEAUTY IN FAIRY TALES 721 TABLE 3: Regression of Number of Reproductions (Logged) on Women's Beauty/ Men's Handsomeness and Women's/Men'sPhysical Appearance.207 we combined older and youngermen.We found thateven aftercontrolling the regression analysis for tales that have a romantictheme.033 .282 -.221 .146 .001 ns ns ns ns ns .020 . We explored alternativefactors that may help account for tales' reproduction.201 .32) instance.240 .205 . the numberof times women'sbeautyis mentionedin a tale remainsstronglyrelatedto the number of times it has been reproduced. Controllingfor Page Length Unstandardized Regression Coefficient Equation1 Women'sbeauty Pages Constant 2 Equation Men'shandsomeness Pages Constant 3 Equation Women'sphysicalappearance Pages Constant 4 Equation Men'sphysicalappearance Pages Constant StandardError of Estimate Significance . such as themes of romanticlove or victimization.202).
When we correlatedtime period in which tales were most often reproduced(which ranges from 0 to 6) with menwe tions of beauty. Tales that make frequentreference to physical appearanceand beauty for women are likely to have been reproduced. all but one tale thatmentiona man being handsomewere reproducedmost often in the latterperiod. In fact.722 GENDER & SOCIETY / October 2003 most reproducedtales. in Severalof the tales have been reproduced books andmovies since theirorigithe nal publication.the same is not truefor men. andthe same is truefor mentionsof men's handsomeness(r = . of the 11 tales thathave been reproducedand mention men's handsomeness.Ourfindings suggestthatthose thathavebeen reproduced most (CinderellaandSnow White)arepreciselythe ones thatpromotea femininebeauty ideal.especially for youngerwomen. In fact. and 227 between 1981 and 2000. there were 46 reproductionsof Cinderella before 1900.a trend linkedto effortsto boost consumerism.42 between 1961 and 1980.activity. and virtuous.and physical appearance. For instance. Our findings furthersuggest that attentionto attractivenessmay have become increasinglyprevalentover the past century.Tales thatwere reproducedmostly in the latterpart of the twentieth centurytend to make more mentions of women's beautyand men's handsomeness.203)." "fair" thanare older women or thanmen of any age are describedas handsome. and Watson 1995).Wallis.159).This trenddoes not necthatis undoubtedly essarily contradicta social controlperspectivethatsuggests such messages should . economically privileged. found no significant correlationbetween physical appearanceand time. those concerningthe importanceof femininebeauty. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION Not surprisingly. convey messages about the prominentin stories importanceof feminine beautynot only by making"beauties" how beautygets its rewards.Fairy tales.and independencebut not physical attractiveness.Even aftercontrolling for length of a are tale. However.5 or 6 for each of the time periodsbetween 1901 and 1960.So ingrainedis the image of butalso in demonstrating women's beautyin fairy tales thatit is difficultto imagine any thatdo not highlight feminist retellings of and glorify it. among the manymessages containedin fairy tales.Furthermore.which is consistentwith earlierstudiesthathave in foundan increasedemphasison physicalattractiveness the late twentiethcentury for men (Berger. beauty is often associated with being white. referencesto feminine beautyandwomen's physicalappearance relatedto the numberof times a tale is reproduced.handsomeness. like other media (Currie 1997).Young women are more often describedas "beautiful. areparor amount. the numberof mentionsof women's beautyis significantlycorrelatedwith a larger in numberof reproductions the latesttime period(r = .However. Recent Disney films and even contemporary popularfairy tales often involve women who differ from their earliercounterparts in ingenuity. This finding suggests that both men and women are being increasingly manipulatedby media messages concerning attractiveness. for men or women." "pretty. 10 were reproducedmost often in the last time period.
Only 2 of the reproduced tales that mention men's handsomeness are fairly popular (Rapunzeland Puss and Boots).We do not proposethat thereis a direct relationshipbetween cultural values concerning feminine beauty and women's behaviorand identities. Clearly.Currie(1997) did find thateven very young andadolescent girls areawareof how theirown bodies fail to live up to the ideal andexpressstrong desiresto conformto this ideal.for beauty's sake. Mentionsof women's beautyare far morelikely to be linkedto reproductionsthan are otherpopularculturalmotifs such as victimizationor romance.g.In these ways."competitive sports). Nor do we know whethercontemporary childrenreadfairytalesin the sameway as theirmothersor grandmothers especiallyin termsof internalizing did. Certainly.. plays a majorrole in the story. "hardlabor. the threetop tales had all been made into Disney movies before 1960 and have enjoyed continuedpopularity. Of course. The fact thatwomen's beautyis particularly salient in tales in the latterpartof the twentiethcenturysuggests thatnormative social controls (such as internalization a feminine beauty ideal) may have of become increasinglyimportant overthe course of the twentiethcenturyas external constraintson women's lives diminished. beauty is not the only reason certain tales have survived. social.but the feminine beauty ideal may operateindirectlyas a means of social control insofar as women's concern with physical appearance (beauty) absorbs resources (money. Women may "voluntarily" activities or occupations they fear will make them appear "unattractive" pursue (e. as in Cinderella or Snow White. Some tales become popular during particularhistorical periods because they resonant so deeply with individuals'and societies' economic. to attributed the work of WaltDisney. For instance.to determineany otherclearlinksbetween survivalof a tale andthemes. Grauerholz / BEAUTY IN FAIRY TALES 723 be directed more towardwomen than men. We suggest thatthis emphasison a feminine beautyideal may operateas a normativesocial controlfor girls andwomen.Baker-Sperry. while there does appear to be an increased emphasis on men's handsomeness along with women's beautyin the late twentiethcentury. the focus on andglorificationof femininebeautyin children's via fairytales may representa meansby which genderinequalityis reproduced culturalproducts. energy. which is consistent with a social controlperspective.Thus.Passing mentionsof men's handsomenessin these 11 tales simply do not compareto the tales in which women's beauty is glorified and in which beauty. or political strugglesdurmuchof the success of certaintales can be ing these times (Zipes 1988b). One limitationof our studyis thatwe cannotdeterminethe extentto which messages concerningfemininebeautyfoundin fairytales havein fact been internalized orby whom.thereremainsa profounddifference in the prevalenceand persistence of messages concerningattractivenessfor men and for women.we do not claim thatfairytales aresolely . however. and each makes only one mentionof men's handsomeness. We were not able. messages aboutbeauty. We found that messages concerning women's beauty are far more dominantthan those for men. time) that could otherwise be spent withdrawfrom or never enhancingtheir social status.The competitionwomen may feel toward other women over physical appearancemay limit their ability to mobilize as a group.
children'smedia should not be viewed simply as gender scripts. suggests that there are many opportunitiesfor these messages to become internalized. Whatseems clear is thatmesoften.And they convey this message in a particularly powerfulway.2003 724 GENDER SOCIETY & / October or even largelyresponsiblefor instilling such beliefs. Children'smediacan be a powerfulmechanismby which childrenlearnculturalvalues. the effect of media on behavioris not clear (Currie1997). for means of statusattainment women andfor men. associationsbetweenbeautyandgoodness andrewards. As with other literature. The notion of normative social control raises questions about who makes choices about publishing children'sbooks and why.Thus. Throughthe proliferationof fairy tales in the media. the impact of such messages is likely to have the same effect. Of course.reputation the author." then these cultural products certainly reflect and legitimate hegemonic beliefs surrounding genderandfemininebeauty. heterofering sexual women. especially those thathave been reproduced are consistent with othermessages women and girls receive aboutthe importance of feminine beauty. buyers for discount.andmarketconsiderationandthatpublishoutlets (which characers in the mass market-which marketbooks to nonlibrary terizemost of the books analyzedhere)-are sensitive to the preferencesandtastes of their clientele (i. throughbooks and movies. is Althoughwe do not subscribeto the idea that a "conspiracy" at work among to "dupe" andwomen into adoptingsubservientbehaviorsandvalgirls publishers ues by intentionallypublishing and reproducingthose texts that emphasize and even glorify sexist values.Furtherby drawingstrong more. especially white. department. Turow's(1978) researchon publishinghouses found thatmost publishersclaim to make choices based on the of book's quality. thereprobablyis certainmesto no "conspiracy" control girls' and women's lives by perpetuating but if Zipes (1988b) was correct that "fairy tales do not become mythic sages. The pervasivenessof fairy tales in our society. the emphasis on beauty has remainedstrong and seemingly has increased duringa period of time when many women have achieved greatereconomic and legal status. Children(or theirparents.throughtheirreadingsof the texts to children)have the . buttheydo reflectbroader resentpartof a largergenderimagerythathelps to maintainandlegitimatethe institution of gender (Lorber1994).Thus. Whatthey probablyunderstand thatcertainfairytales havebecome beauty nearlymythic and enjoy wide appeal(and a large market).. sages in the Grimms'fairy tales. Surely individualsmakingdecisions aboutwhich books to publishare unawareor uncona cernedthatbooks based on Grimms'fairytales highlightandperpetuate feminine is ideal.and book stores).e. unless they are in almost perfect accordwith the underlyingprinciplesof how the male membersof society seek to arrange object relationsto satisfy theirwantsand needs.thesebooks andothermedia that glorify feminine beauty may or may not be intended to redirect girls' and culturalvaluesandrepwomen's attentionto theirlooks. girls (andboys) are taught specific messages concerning the importanceof women's bodies and The messages presentedin the Grimms'tales portraydifwomen's attractiveness.
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