The definition of “beauty” is a quality that the person, places, objects or things (song, poem) that makes them very attractice to look at and when others look at it, they feel pleasure(Oxford, 2017). There are wide differences between ancient Chinese culture and the Western culture. The differences depend on the current culture of the dynasty. There are two types of the standard of beauty, which include the inner beauty and the outer beauty (Brand, 2000). Outer beauty is practicing their talents such as dancing or singing skills; inner beauty is the virtuous nature of the women, and those women with high ambitious will involve in political intrigue (Sun, 2011). Other than that, the behavior, body appearances, skin tone, hairstyles, the costume, and jewelry that can represent the ideal beauty at that time (Pompeii, Yuen, & Fresard, 2016).
Thousand of years ago, gender stereotypes already occur in ancient and tighter and collective culture. The most obvious stereotype is women are expected to obey and comply the men because they live in a male-centered society (Matsumoto, & Juang, 2007). In some extreme cases, women are expecting to deliver baby boys to ensure the family line can carry on, consequently, if a woman giving birth to a son, she will gain more respect from her husband’s family. However, if a woman gave birth to a girl, the baby girl has less or even no chance to survive because her family will abandon them and sell them as a servant to a wealthy family, or killed them. In other words, women have little voice in decision making, especially in some important events such as marriage and education. Some of them don’t have the choice and don’t even know who she will get married with and have the chances to study.
Besides, woman’s social status is lower and humble than man. The reason is men have been view as the leader of the family; men went to work to fulfill the basic needs of the family. Women need to listen to the men’s words and follow the rules and laws that set by the government or the society. For instance, during Han Dynasty, slenderness was considered ideal women beauty. Moreover, the roles of women are cook for the family, serve her husband and take care her child and most important is willing to “eat bitterness” (can go through the difficulties) without any complaint.
In my experience, my grandmother is more favor on grandsons compare to granddaughters. She was very strict with me and will punish me if I did something wrong. My grandmother will buy food and toy to her grandsons and as a granddaughter, I only can get and play the “second hand” toy from my cousins. Then, my father seems to have the same mind concept with my grandmother, he always expects me to do the housework such as cooking, doing laundry and cleaning. I felt that it is very unfair to me, as we live in this modern generation, women should gain more respect and decision-making power.
In addition, the ancients’ basic need is to survive, they need to learn how to live, how should they behave and speak in the right ways, this process known as the socialization process. Most of them follow the social norms, values, attitudes that the culture did. The belief system of the ancients are same, the ancients don’t want to create conflict, they have less query to the laws and rules because it creates a sense of belonging to them and get adopted by the society. The socialization agents including parents, the environment that exists help to ensure the socialization process develops. For instance, being a good woman is not allowed to hang out or having physical touch with males before married, this behavior can bring shame to a family and the consequence is the woman will put in a “pig cage” and drowned, and shouldn’t talk too much and spread the rumors. Virtue is the most important element of being a good woman. In other words, a good woman doesn’t need any special talents and the folk saying, a woman without talents is virtuous is still widely known today (Sun, 2015).
Almost all women practice this culture (be a virtuous woman), it’s because they have attribution towards the culture. Peoples obtain meaning from their behavior, attitudes, and experiences. For instance, foot binding that lasted for almost 1000 years. The bound foot was act as a representation of identity and virtue of a woman. Peoples at that time thought that small inch of the foot was seen as a sign of beauty and attractiveness (Mao, 2007). Moreover, foot binding also a sign of the girl’s family status, which means the wealthy family will not allow their daughter to work. Therefore, most of the dignitary or rich man will continue this culture and the women stood firm in their devotion to the tradition in order to develop their cultural identity (Foreman, 2015).
Culture are historical, the society shared the same tradition and heritage over time. Since thousand years ago, Chinese women have put more attention on their physical appearance. Back to 2000 years ago, Han dynasty prefers to white skin, small lips. The skin tone is the reference to one’s social status, which means the upper-class women have a pale face and they live in better life standard. In contrast, those women who have black and dull skin are indicated that they always work in the fields or rice plantations under the sunlight and they also live in poverty (Shepard, 2012).
This beauty trend still continues until now, there are many whitening skin care product in the market. Indeed, pale skin has become such outstanding trait of beautiful women and there is a phrase “white, rich, beautiful” used to describe and point out what is the ideal woman should be. During ancient times, women will apply powder to their face in order to make it look smaller and whiter. “A white complexion is powerful enough to hide three faults”, which are the face, body figure and deportment.
In conclusion, women before this modern era are somehow forced to be more acceptable by the society and the culture. Otherwise, they will not be able to obtain the cultural identity and will be kicked out of the social group. Identity during that era was very important, without the social identity ones not obtain the sense of belonging as well as the sense of security. They won’t be happy without a sense of belonging and security. During that era, the meaning of beauty is defined or set by the society and culture, therefore the socialization agents will help women to learn and blend into the culture which also known as the enculturation. Culture not only brings meaning to a person but also create happiness to a person (Matsumoto & Juang, 2007).