“Great Big Nose and Fat Legs:” Feminists Push Back Against Conventional Beauty Standards

Second Wave feminism and its use of poetry enabled women to engage in a dialogue about their insecurities that stemmed from conventional beauty standards. Feminist writers such as Nellie Wong and Marge Piercy used poetry to take ownership over their emotions and discovered a widespread feeling of ugliness and a lack of self worth shared by many women. They realized how much control mainstream media had over a woman’s perception of her own beauty, and how while looking inward, she felt the perpetual need to fix herself. Empowered by this realization, feminist periodicals such as Amazon Quarterly in the 1970s and 1980s began to challenge and reconstruct the beauty standards that were in place to define women. This project contrasts how women’s beauty was portrayed in mainstream publications, such as Vogue and Ebony, with how feminists were defining themselves in their own publications as a result of the mindset shift caused by the movement.

––Shania Gonzalez

Beauty Standards for White Women in the Mainstream

Beauty Standards for Black Women in the Mainstream

The Longing to be White 

Fat Liberation 

Barbie Beauty 

Redefining Beauty in Feminist Media