Analysis of Berger’s Theory Revolving around the Idea of a Female’s Nature

This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Cite this essay cite-image

Throughout Berger’s documentary, Ways of Seeing, Berger discusses how the female body is perceived by a male eye, and how women are automatically objectified and dehumanised in a way that makes them appear simply as an inanimate object for men to admire for their own benefit and lust. The way a photograph is lit, how the photo is taken and the angles the image has been captured at, as well as the way women are positioned, made up and dressed, are all factors that influence the male gaze over women (Ways of Seeing, 1972).

Photos and paintings like this painting of Susanna and the Elders, emphasise and show that these were created simply for men to view for pleasure. However, from a woman's perspective, Berger strongly believes that women are constantly thinking about the way they look and feel within themselves, as well as to others, particularly by men. Women constantly feel the need to look respectable in order to feel loved or have self-worth and value (See Fig.1).

“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually” (Berger, 1972).

Subconsciously, women are naturally trying to impress people, especially men, whereby they constantly feel the need to look in mirrors and see their reflection to check how they appear to others, whereby they want to gain approval from men. Berger states that he strongly feels that this ideology is not vanity, but women have been taught from a young age to always look representable and respectable (Ways of Seeing, 1972).

My image on the right of the model is posing in a formal way, whereby her shoulders are back, she is sitting up straight, her arms are placed elegantly and her head is slightly tilted to face the front. Her eyes are also directly looking into the camera or viewer. This eye contact and her sensual facial expression conveys a serious yet sultry look, with the handheld mirror in her hand emphasising this vanity yet lust and importance to impress the Male voyeur. This photo is in relation to the context around Robusti’s painting and Berger’s theory revolving around the idea of a female’s nature is to subconsciously please the male (Berger, 1972).

For these photographs, I wanted to portray a ‘Hollywood Glamour’ feel, whereby the female model is seen as sophisticated, wealthy, beautiful and glamorous. The poses she is in are quite sensual, with her facial expression is lustful and serious. These types of imagery were what made up fashion photography in the 1950s.

Friedan discusses how women are perceived by heterosexual men and how fashion photography was simply created for the opposite gender to lust over, whilst women saw these photos advertised as how they were expected to dress and look like in order to be happy and successful in life. Women’s dreams, goals and ambitions in life were to simply please a man to secure a husband and to provide meals and look after the house and children. This was supposedly known as “true feminine fulfillment” (Friedan, 1963:18).

Voyeurism is a word that represents the ‘male gaze’. The term ‘male gaze’ is used to describe the way in which heterosexual men admire these glamorous women, either from men’s magazines or their own wife, in order to gain pleasure or lust over them. This is emphasised by Mulvey’s theory that women are seen as less important and more inferior than man, as they are just seen as a sexual symbol with no personality (Mulvey, 1975).

There are several different aspects that form the ‘gaze’, such as how women see themselves, how men see women and how women see other women, by which it is in their human nature to compare themselves against other women (Mulvey, 1975).

The model is seen wearing what can be identified as luxurious and expensive items, such as diamanté earrings and necklace, with a fur shrug and long wavy hair. All these are characteristics that attract the male voyeur to the image which then makes the woman in the photo seen as an object and a symbol for sexual pleasure. Her sultry and lustful facial expression also adds to the attraction of the male eye (Mulvey, 1975).

For these set of photographs, I wanted to create sensual, sophisticated feel with elegance, glamour yet a voyeuristic feel, whereby the model still looks glamorous even in a bathrobe and shower cap. These images would be of particular interest to the male voyeur, which is what fashion photography in the 50s was created to attract and appeal to (Mulvey, 1975).

“Traditionally media representations of women were repudiated for featuring women in narrow, stereotypical ways as passive and as sexual objects, emphasising their domestic roles” (Lazar, 2009).

Women were automatically dehumanised and seen as an object for men to simply view and gain pleasure from, as well as also being seen as inferior to men in terms of what women were capable of doing, such as men would be the ones who went to work to earn the money whilst the women would have to stay at home to look after the house and children (Lazar, 2009).

There were lots of magazines in the 50s, aimed toward women, which taught them the ideologies of a stay at home figure and what was expected of a domestic housewife, as well as keeping up a high beauty regime in order to please their husbands or attract the opposite sex. Women were taught from a young age how to dress, behave and express themselves (Pilcher, 1999).

There were also magazines especially curated for men, which featured pages of beautiful women and pin-up posters, like my photograph on the left, for men to admire (Pilcher, 1999).

On the contrary, “The contemporary media represent women as assertive, in control and autonomous, having a strong public presence, while confidently embracing feminine practices.” (Lazar, 2009).

In today’s society, the practice of feminism has enabled women to gain independence and have equal rights to men. Fashion photography has also been revolutionised so that women can be seen as a role model, a unique individual and is another way to express themselves freely (Lazar, 2009).

For this photograph, the concept behind the composition was to create and design a visual series that represented a new idea for hair, such as using hair for different ways of styling for clothing, accessories and footwear. I used hair as a tool that is used to express oneself and a way of giving a visual identity.

Hielscher states, “Hairstyles have been ‘assigned a visually communicated identity’, just like fashion and dress that play a central part in any culture in relation to class, race, sexuality and gender.” (Hielscher, 2013:257).

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

This emphasises how society puts this pressure on the importance of looking glamorous or pretty and how one represents themselves, particularly women, through makeup, clothing and accessories, in order to either feel confident in oneself, accepted in society and impress the male eye. The way a woman’s hair is styled is made to feel just as important as how they dress and compose themselves.

The way a woman’s hair is styled can also represent her social class, sexuality and race too.

“Women were meant to be submissive and gentle, which was embodied in the way that they controlled their hair.” (Hielscher, 2013:257).

This statement conveys that by recognising a woman with her hair in a certain way, such as neatly tied back in a bouffant style in the 50s, this was seen as a woman of class, elegance and sophistication and a “representation of the traditional status and conventionality of women” (Hielscher, 2013:257).

The way a woman’s hair has been styled and treated is a symbol for her wealth. Women who were seen with well groomed, shiny hair, were more likely to be of higher class and status than women who did not look after their hair with lavish products such as shampoos, conditioners, serums and treatments for shinier, thicker and softer hair (Hielscher, 2013).

For my series of photographs on the way hair can be used as a material for different functions as well as how hair can be experimented with, I wanted to show how versatile and experimental hair could be, by manipulating it in numerous ways to create something unusual and striking. Whether that be the way the hair was styled on her head, or using hair for completely different means, such as for shoes, bags and clothing. I also wanted to produce images that were fun, playful and exciting, to portray a relaxed yet stylish feel to the photos, which is the opposite effect of how hair used to be seen as a way of knowing who was of a higher social status and wealth than others (Hielscher, 2013).

Dance had a stereotype surrounding it, whereby it was seen as a very dominated female heavy sport, especially ballet, modern and jazz dancing. If males were to participate in such a sport, they were deemed as ‘feminine’, ‘queer’ or gay’ (Polasek and Roper, 2011).

However in today’s current society, male dancers have seen a huge increase in numbers, potentially due to people being more accepted in society, more coverage and advertisement of the sport with female and male participants, through social media, as well as the increase of television programmes that are based around dance competitions. Although dance is still mainly associated with females, men are just as important when it comes to performing a routine together, however, female dancers still seem to be in the spotlight more, due to dance originally being recognised as a female sport. Male dancers have challenged gender ideologies within dance, which has led to the equality and acceptance of males expressing themselves through dance and gymnastics (Polasek and Roper, 2011).

My photos of the male model demonstrating dance and acrobatic movements, represents a masculine figure and hegemonic masculinity. His physicality looks muscly and his body language expresses confidence, strength, flexibility and pride. By looking at such photos, one cannot identify whether the model is heterosexual or gay, even though dance is predominantly associated with women with the stereotype that men who dance are branded ‘feminine’ (Polasek and Roper, 2011).

The expected beauty ideal of ‘feminine beauty’ translates across into children’s fairy tales, whereby tales with themes of beauty and femininity, such as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella have majorly impacted young girls growing up (Baker-Sperry and Grauerholz, 2003).

“Children’s fairy tales, which emphasise such things as women’s passivity and beauty, are indeed gendered scripts and serve to legitimatise and support the dominant gender system” (Baker-Sperry and Grauerholz, 2003:711).

This is reinforced by Berger’s theory that females are subconsciously taught the beauty standards and expectations they need to maintain throughout their lives to be accepted in society, to be of some importance and to have a form of social status, as well as appeal to the male gender (Berger, 1975).

These photographs were taken to represent my version of the fairy tale, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, whereby Alice is seen as this beautiful, smart character having a tea party with a rabbit in the woods. By looking at this image, you can tell that Alice is being portrayed as a glamorous and elegant woman, who fulfills these feminine beauty standards that young girls look up to and aspire to be like.

“The feminine beauty ideal - the socially constructed notion that physical attractiveness is one of women’s most important assets, and something all women should strive to achieve and maintain” (Baker-Sperry and Grauerholz, 2003:711).

Women are objectified by men, as icons for them to admire their beauty and form. Young girls are quick to learn that one of the most important aspects of being a woman, is how they represent themselves to society, especially men, and that they must maintain an extremely high standard of self-care and beauty regimes so that they impress and appeal to the opposite sex, in order for them to find a husband and have a family. The beauty ideals within fairy tales like ‘Alice in Wonderland’, set high standards for young girls to admire (Baker-Sperry and Grauerholz, 2003).

Freedman states that “women are aware that beauty counts heavily with men and they therefore work hard to achieve it.” (Freedman, 1986, 11). This reinforces the idea that this is what both women and society expect every young girl’s dream and accomplishment in life is to be like.

As a conclusion, with the help of female magazines, fairy tales and fashion photography in the 50s, these factors set a social standard for women and young girls to admire and learn from, teaching them how they were expected to dress, behave and compose themselves in their day to day lives. They had to look their very best at all times, by looking glamorous, fashionable, sophisticated, elegant and beautiful in order to keep either their husbands happy, to find a man or to be able to simply be successful and content in life. This was every young girl’s dream and admiration.

Fairy tales, magazines and fashion photography helped to frame these social standards for women. The sole purpose of their lives was to please others, especially men. If women had other intentions for their lives such as to be independent, find a job and have an ambition other than looking after their family, they were judged, laughed at, made to feel stupid and worthless.

Males who dance were also questioned as to whether they were viewed as masculine and strong. There was a stereotype surrounding dance that it was only deemed socially acceptable for women to dance, and if you were male, you were seen as ‘queer’ and ‘feminine’. Although today men are equally as accepted within the dance community, without the stereotype attached.

  1. Baker-Sperry, Lori and Grauerholz, Liz (2003) The Pervasiveness and persistence of the feminine beauty ideal in children’s fairy tales. Sage Publications Inc. [online]. Available at:
  2. Berger, John. (1975) Ways of Seeing. Available at:
  3. Freedman, Rita. (1986) Beauty Bound,
  4. Friedan, Betty. (1963) The Feminine Mystique. Toronto: George J.McLeod Limited. [online]. Available at:
  5. Hielscher, Sabine. (2013)
  6. Lazar, Michelle M. (2009) Entitled to Consume: Postfeminist Femininity and a culture of post-critique (2009:371-400).
  7. Mulvey, Laura. (1975) Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Available at:
  8. Pilcher, Jane. (1999) Women in Contemporary Britain: An Introduction. London: Routledge. [online] Available at:
  9. Polasek, Katherine M. and Roper, Emily A. (2011) Negotiating the gay male stereotype in ballet and modern dance. Available at:
Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this paper

Analysis of Berger’s Theory Revolving around the Idea of a Female’s Nature. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Analysis of Berger’s Theory Revolving around the Idea of a Female’s Nature.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Analysis of Berger’s Theory Revolving around the Idea of a Female’s Nature. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Analysis of Berger’s Theory Revolving around the Idea of a Female’s Nature [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:

Join our 150k of happy users

  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.