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The Gaze

Updated: Jan 19, 2020

When I was a little girl I would watch my mother.

Laura Harold
Laura Harold aged approximate 25 years

gaze verb look steadily and intently, especially in admiration, surprise, or thought: he could only gaze at her in astonishment.

noun a steady intent look: he turned following her gaze.

■ (in literary theory) a particular perspective considered as embodying certain aspects of the relationship between the observer and the observed: the male gaze.

DERIVATIVES gazer noun.

-ORIGIN late Middle English: perhaps related to obsolete gaw (see gawk).


I would watch my mother put on full makeup every day of her life, she was never seen without it on. By trade she was a Taylor. She made clothes for people for a living, people like Sandra Rhodes, Jean Muir, top designers, beautiful clothes. I would hear "Does this suit me?", "Do I look fat in this?", "Does my bum stick out?" (amazing this one, how things have changed from when I was a girl!), "Do you think this is the right thing to wear for this occasion?", "Do you think I look good?". These comments came from her private clients, herself and then as time passed my own lips.

Metamorphosis

When I became a teenager I found thatI was ignored in favour of my prettier friends, I was invisible and unimportant. Then one day my mother suggested I put my hair in rollers, well it was like my fairy godmother waving her magic wand. Suddenly I was the centre of attention, I was important, I could get on the bus for free, I would get gifts and favours, and people were suddenly listening to me. I became fascinated with beauty and studied a three year course at the London College of Fashion in Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy because I had decided to earn a living from helping women make themselves more attractive. I soon got disillusioned when I realised that no matter how good I made them look; they were not happy, because I couldn't turn them into how they would like to have looked in their dreams. I don't think even plastic surgery would have worked. It was far more complex than self-improvement.They wanted to be something that they just were not; an ideal of beauty, so they would always be disappointed.


Recently, I was having dinner with a female friend and we were discussing her dramatic weight loss after she had been following a strict diet. I said to her "Is your husband pleased with your loss of weight?" She said,"I don't care what he thinks, I just want to look good at the school gates." After a lifetime spent in the pursuit of beauty; both for personal appearance reasons, but also intellectually trying to get to the bottom of what beauty is. I did not stop to consider who is doing the gazing and why is it so important that women can make themselves ill by extreme dieting trying to conform to a physical stereotype put forward in the media that is impossible to obtain. So although the stereotype of the male fantasy female appears on the surface to be the role model for women, is the gazer female? When I go out with my female friends I dress up to please them. Pleasing the male gaze is easy, nude will do.

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