Sample Essay on Female sexuality in the 1950’s

Female sexuality in the 1950’s

Over the years, women have struggled with their identity in the society. From the early days, beauty pageant winners were only graded on their outward appearance and never by their intellectual ability or an incorporation of their talents. In the 1950s women were portrayed as images of morality and modesty. Their daily lives were to be spent in homes fixing their hair, kitchens and nurturing their families. They also had to wear in a certain manner to please the people around them, especially their husbands. However, despite the conservative nature in these days, Marilyn Monroe, beauty pageants, and Barbie commercials stand out becoming symbols of beauty and sexuality (Kidder 38).

Inherent Messages in beauty pageants

Apparently, beauty and sexuality would go hand in hand. Beauty pageants and icons such as Marilyn Monroe acquired quick fame by the fact that they had incredible bodies. Barbie commercials became acceptable by their reflection of the fact that women were to be elegant, beautiful, and good looking. Their attractiveness captured the attention of the world opening up opportunities for them in the film industries.

In the 1950’s, women were to be very neat and composed. They were supposed to have a standard of beauty as well as a high expectation when it came to maintaining cleanliness in their homes. The modesty portrayed during these days was not portrayed as sexy. Sexuality was not necessarily deemed as an option. However, women were instructed through the commercials such as Barbie to look extremely good and beautiful. Barbie commercials, Marilyn Monroe, and beauty pageants slowly became famous due to the fact that they reflected a standard by which women were supposed to maintain.

How they remain popular

Beauty pageants, Barbie commercials, and Marilyn Monroe were able to remain popular during conservative times in the pop culture because of their reflection of the transformation in women. The image of the woman has changed over the years. For instance, Miss America beauty pageant no longer bases the success of the pageant on her physical appearance (Willer 123). The examples of Marilyn Monroe remain popular by the fact that they not only look good but also advance in their careers. The Barbie commercials also reflect a modern, intelligent, and classy woman.

Upholding messages of the time

During the time, it was needful for white women to remain beautiful, charming, and good homemakers. Marilyn Monroe upheld this message by remaining on top of her game as a film icon as well as a symbol of sexuality. She goes beyond maintaining her role as a homemaker by finding value in herself as a career woman. The Barbie commercials, as well as beauty pageants both, reflect the beauty of women during the conservative years. They too uphold dominant messages such as women meant to be good home keepers and perfect in their marriages.


Race and class

Barbie, beauty pageants, and Marilyn do not only reflect the sexuality in women but speak loud about race and class. In the Barbie commercial, women wear elegant and classy dresses. Beauty pageants, on the other hand, are dressed by professionals. They wear makeup all the time and have beautiful hair. Marilyn also appears in public dressing uniquely and expensively (Willet 80). In all the three examples, the participant women are all blonde and Caucasian. Marilyn Monroe was considered to be a white, blonde, and sexy woman. She was treated as a symbol of the real women.

The pop culture has been highly influential in the present gender roles. Women are no longer considered as homemakers and nurturers alone. In the past decades, women have been struggling to find their placing in the society. Today, the media has brought a balance in revealing successful women in their careers hence facing out the notion that women are weaklings.

Works Cited

Kidder. Marilyn Monroe: Cover to Cover: Cover to Cover. Krause Publications, 2011.

Willet, Julie. The American Beauty Industry Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2010.