How Women are Imprisoned to Wear Make-Up in Society, Based on Panopticism Theory

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Foucault proposed that the modern society is a panopticism prison that disciplined human body. The power of discipline invisibly control people to obey the rules of the contextual society. Due to the diversity of cultures, people are disciplined into different characteristics based on their gender, class and race. Make-up as a prevailing activity around the world is a embodiment of the attention to Women's appearance in society. In Bourdieu’s discourse, “habitus” is an embodiment of culture that imprinted on the body. It determines people’s behaviors, thoughts and cognition in the frame that it constructed in the society. Habitus “is mixed both practice and influence of social structure in an unconscious way”(Bourdieu, 66), even the smallest action is social and cultural practices, such as walking, eating, nodding and so on. “Fields” is the space that provide particular rules with certain autonomy, characteristics of different fields varies. Bourdieu used simile of game to describe the process. In a game, the field is an artificial model of social construct but with clear and strict rules, space and game time. The players are told to obey rules, specific rules with plain goals. In this situation, the rules are habitus. In reality, the social field is not artificial, but a long-term, slow and unconscious process. People are not explicitly informed of the rules and regulations, nor are actively involved in the process. (Bourdieu, 67)

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Foucault consider body as an object of power, he described power as capillary, it penetrates into every corner, into people's bodies, movements, speech and thinking. Compared with the classical era, the transformation of power has changed from 'top-down' to 'bottom-up'. Power is no longer owned by a single dictator, but a concealed, penetrating force composed of the whole society. Compared with the punishment in ancient times, it was replaced by the gentle 'discipline'. This kind of instruction is actually more difficult to get rid of, because power and knowledge constitute a panopticism prison where people are kept under constant surveillance in different small spaces. Here the body is no longer the object of punishment, but the object of discipline. Discipline is not directly attached to a society's major law or political institutions, nor is a direct extension of their ideas, but it is not completely independent. (Foucault, 211) Discipline is not existed as unitary or closed form, it is a supervision center that distributed in the society. All of the schools, factories, families, institution are showing the characteristics of the panopticism. They supervised citizen in economic, political and religious level.

Make-up is an embodied activity I engage in. It is a general action that woman in most countries get used to do. There is no legal law or institution require people to do make-up. It's different from eating or sporting, that either is compulsory for human body's physiological needs or beneficial for health, but it occupies An indispensable part of many female's life. An adult woman who has no cosmetics is rare, and might be seemed strange.The purpose of make-up is clear, people chasing a better appearance,. However, in global trends, women are taught to pay more attention to their appearance than men, while appearance examination is common in campus and workplace, this is the general trend of society.

Men usually have less make-up, or in other words, men who have make-up is unacceptable in many social contexts and labelled as homosexuality. Just like the less number of women athletes or coolies, and dispute they faced in society. This situation is formed under the pressure of gender stereotypes. According to Bourdieu’s concepts, family, school, company are the space that provide invisible rules, while make-up or lookism is the rules and embodiment of culture that imprinted in human body. There is no right or wrong in make-up or pursuit of aesthetics, but in modern society, make-up is sometimes a kind of pressure on women, squeezing their living space. Women spend a lot of time and money on make-up. Especially in recent years, the prevalence of consumerism has intensified this trend. Overwhelming commercial advertisements, bright models show the charm of make-up, the pursuit of appearance modification is expanding step by step. People are influenced by the unified aesthetics in different contextual, some of them have a desire for fuller lips, some of them pursue a higher nose, although the trend of beauty is different globally, there are relatively unified standard of appearance in particular areas. (Bourdieu, 66) People who have the same nationality, culture, class or religion share habitus, because people who have different habitus produce understanding of cultural capital and the choice of consumption behavior possess the function of social grading or identity segregation. However, make-up is an 'important ' part of female's life, this concept is imposed on women by the invisible web of social concern for women's appearance. In Foucault's idea of disciplined body and panopticism, body judgement plays the role of normalizing and examination, and it is existence in everywhere. From childhood to adulthood, they take the appearance of celebrities or stars as a benchmark, observing the evaluation from surrounding to the appearance of others and concern of the appearance of female. With the advent of adolescent, appearance comparison among peers become more and more. This is a large-scale, all-pervasive capillary power that correspond to Foucault's idea. People examine each other and self-examine, examining whether they have made themselves look better, and discipline of appearance is completed in this process. (Foucault, 198)

In conclusion, make-up as an embodied activity that many other females and I engage in is a result of the discipline in the society, under the context of appearance judgement is more common on female. Discipline cooperated with knowledge or technology build the hidden web to guide and control people's thoughts and behaviors. The anatomy of power construct the importance of make-up in female’s life through the its capillary form of power, and squeezing freedom of no make-up.(Foucault, 206) In other words, it disciplined female's understanding of aesthetics and choices of life.

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