Trading Laces at IU: Gender

Gender Roles in a Diverse University

Do we look like we "should"?

I am not about to write an analysis paper, but I just wanted to talk a little about what it is like being a student and dealing with the image of beauty on campus. I tend to care about my image much more than I would like to say I do sometimes. I catch myself looking at the mirror a lot. I would say I am conscious of my looks, but I think that a general trend for girls my age. I don't think I am unique or anything. On campus, I can't emphasize how much variety there is. There are so many styles and attitudes. This campus is very diverse and the idea students have of "beautiful" is clearly different because there are so many differently dressed and looking students. I love that. I think it is very good to be aware of what our culture says beautiful is and means and how manipulative the media can be. Beauty really is dependent on who you ask--especially here. No one looks the same as the typical student in my high school, so it all has to do with where you are. There are so many east and west coasters and mid-westerners here that there is not one type of girl or boy. It's pretty cool. When it comes to gender roles, there is plenty of acceptance of whatever gender you want to identify with or disidentify. There is always a gender-neutral bathroom where there are female and male bathrooms. Although we have flaws and there is some inequality in gender perceptions, we are an accepting school of whatever you want to be. Below there are videos that reflect the way the media shows what beautiful means. Finally, following the videos below is a Q&A from my good freshman friend Isabela about her initial reactions to the videos.

Watch these two ...

then read the Q&A.

What was your overall reaction to the girl transformation?

I was first shocked and then I was angry that we're being lied to. It's sad that we look up to that because it is not physically possible for our eyes to look that big without any enhancement and for our necks to be that thin and long.

What was your overall reaction to the guy transformation?

I actually found that more shocking. I never expected guys to be changed that much. It's usually only girls that are known to be so photo shopped. Unfortunately, he is our ideal looking guy after the Photoshop. His body was more attractive altered, and I think it's because we've been conditioned to think that way because all of the models and great looking men in magazines and ads look that way.

How did you feel after you watched them?

I was honestly disappointed in myself for being so into the edited versions. Now that I know they are edited, I have to rethink what is real or not.

Do you think IU has a standard for attractive girls?

I think there is an ideal "beautiful" girl at IU. There are so many of them here. Ever since welcome week, girls judge other girls by how skinny and pretty are compared to themselves. There is not a definition, but there is an understanding of what a pretty girl looks like. The girls who are tan, wealthier, skinny, and have nice clothes tend to be pretty, which we are also told is pretty by the media.

Do you think IU has a standard for attractive guys?

Guys have an unspoken attractive standard. The boys who are "fratty," "studs," and "athletic" are more attractive to girls and guys understand this too. Here, the guys with any combination of wealth, put-togetherness, ability to get girls, and popularity have a leg up to being the most socially accepted. It may not be bad if these qualities lead them to success and professionalism.


Chelsie Kasun

About The Author
Trading LacesWalk in someone else's shoes.

Walk in someone else's shoes.

Trading Laces encourages students to gain appreciation for the life experiences of individuals from different backgrounds by participating in and reflecting on highlighted events and experiences related to the following categories: gender, race, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.

We ask students to walk a mile in another person's shoes. After all, as Thoreau said: "Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"

This blog houses the reflections of students who have participated in the Trading Laces challenge.

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