In beauty standards for women while also using the

In today’s society, we commonly hear phrases such as “Everyone is beautiful” and “Size doesn’t matter” yet women are constantly bombarded with idealized images of beauty they are told they must attain to. In Beyonce’s song titled “Pretty Hurts” released in 2013, she highlights the pressures put on women to adhere to society’s unrealistic beauty standards which exist to alter womens’ perceptions o fhow they view themselves. Since women are continuously pressured to meet impractical expectations of beauty, rather than being satisfied with themselves, they critique and attempt to change their physical flaws in fear of not being accepted. Through the use of various stylistic devices such as diction, contradiction, metaphor, and mood, Beyonce reveals how society forces women to conform and uphold to impossible beauty standards which further reinforce the unfair expectations of gender roles. In the chorus of the song, Beyonce sings “Perfection is a disease of a nation”. By referring to perfection as a “disease” this is powerful diction given that diseases are often contagious and negatively affect people’s everyday lives. She uses the word ‘disease’ to reveal how society promotes unachievable beauty standards for women while also using the word ‘nation’ to highlight how widespread and sickening beauty ideals are that they affect an entire population. Her use of diction conveys how society influences women to meet ideal beauty standards so that they can fulfill a feminine gender role. Furthermore, when she sings “we shine the light on whatever’s worse” she emphasizes how women focus too much on their physical flaws. Since beauty ideals have been unconsciously internalized as the norm for years, many are unaware of how detrimental they are to women physically, mentally, and emotionally. By conditioning women to focus on their insecurities this serves to damage their self-esteem which helps to uphold society’s female gender role expectation. Additionally in the chorus, Beyonce uses diction again when she sings “it’s the soul that needs a surgery”. Since the soul is a person’s inner being and has no relation to one’s outer appearance, this reveals that women should not focus on changing the way they look, instead, they should focus on what lies beneath all of their physical characteristics because that is what matters. That being said, she means that our values and sense of identity are what needs to be reflected upon and changed not our physical characteristics. Beyonce tells us that when we strive to reach perfection, we internalize self-hatred and conform to society’s ideal standards of what is considered to be “beautiful” in order to feel accepted and fit into the female gender role. An example of a contradiction is in the lyrics “TV says, ‘Bigger is better'” and “Vogue says, ‘Thinner is Better'”. By including the names of two popular forms of media, this conveys society’s representation of how females should look which is often shown in popular culture. This contradiction of the phrases shows how the beauty standards that the media perpetuates are unattainable and reinforces unfair gender role expectations. In the same way, Beyonce includes the metaphor “Reflection stares right into you”. She uses this phrase to show that even if women attempt to change their outer appearance, this will not free them from the internal damage that society has cause them. In addition to that, she uses another metaphor “You left a shattered mirror and the shards of a beautiful past.” Her use of figurative language illustrates how aiming to reach perfection results in a loss of identity from trying so hard to abide to the ideal beauty standards that come with the gender role you are expected to perform. Likewise, Beyonce sets a negative mood to prove that women must conform to beauty expectations in order to feel accepted in society. For example, in the beginning of the song, she sings “Mama says your a pretty girl, what’s in your head, it doesn’t matter.” These lyrics allow to the audience to clearly understand that the author was raised to believe that her intelligence, morals, beliefs, and values are unimportant and that the only thing that matters is what society is able to see. This clearly conveys how beauty expectations have been internalized as the norm for many generations and how children are taught from a very early age that they must fit into a specific gender role. Similarly, Beyonce sets the mood again when she says “Pageant the pain away”. Through this, the audience is able to empathize with her because we see that she was conditioned to believe that beauty results in success therefore revealing that her participation in the beauty pageant gives her reassurance that she is worthy and beautiful. The negative mood she sets in the song allows us to see how women are pressured immensely in today’s society because they are told they must fit in with the female gender role expectation. Lastly, the title of the song itself, “Pretty Hurts”, reflects the negative mood of the overall text to the audience. This phrase is significant because it is leaves a lasting impact on the viewer with regards to the impractical societal expectations put on women to look a certain way which forces them to fit into a female gender role. In conclusion, Beyonce attempts to establish an awareness to her audience regarding how women are pressured to meet impossible expectations of beauty. She targets women through the use of stylistic devices such as diction, contradiction, metaphor, and mood in order to convey how society forces women to abide and uphold to impossible beauty standards which reinforces the unfair expectations of gender roles.


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