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Scars to your beautiful: stepping outside the male gaze

Media products, in one way or the other, have influenced the prevailing stereotypes in our society. The notorious male gaze has played an essential role in creating this hostile environment, specifically for women.

"Scars to your beautiful" by Alessia Cara is one song that has attempted to break that idea. It eloquently explains how the male gaze has pushed women to conform to unrealistic beauty standards.

She craves, attention she praises, an image

She prays to be, sculpted by the sculptor

This "image" is the unrealistic beauty standard women think they need to fit in.

She has dreams to be an envy, so she's starving

You know, covergirls eat nothing

Women are expected to fit the model or "covergirl" figure for which they feel the need to starve themselves.

Similar themes are discussed in other songs.

Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?

Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul?

Such lyrics inculcate the feeling that woman only needs to be loved for their physical appearance, i.e. when they look a particular type (young and beautiful). It makes women question their worth.

But she wears short skirts

I wear T-shirts

She's Cheer Captain, and I'm on the bleachers

These lines again highlight the need for girls to dress a certain way (wear revealing clothes) to be capable of being loved.

The ironic thing is that these two songs are written by women, which shows that women see themselves through the "male gaze," which is talked about by Cara in her music:

She don't see her perfect

She doesn't understand she's worth it

Or that beauty goes deeper than the surface

This shows how much this idea of being perfect (the one acceptable to the male gaze) is internalized by women. Cara's song breaks this male gaze-dominated mentality by informing that every woman is beautiful in their way and they don't need to change themselves to become desirable to men.

You should know you're beautiful just the way you are

And you don't have to change a thing

The world could change its heart

No scars to your beautiful

We're stars and we're beautiful

Such songs empower women and break the stereotypical mentality of both men and women through awareness. Therefore, media products can both positively and negatively impact the audience

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kashaf noor
kashaf noor
11 thg 12, 2022

I completely agree with the post. The male gaze has led to women following unrealistic beauty standards to appeal to the men in society in some way. Because of how women are portrayed in the media, we see ourselves through that lens as well. Alessia's songs are very well breaking that stereotype, as you have mentioned, but I would like to add to Myra's point that 'You belong with me' is not breaking out of the male gaze stereotype but it is actually reinforcing it, where Taylor is portraying how the other girl is a perfect, cheerleader, while she is on the bleachers.

However, we do see a lot of songs in the media industry that is toppling this male…


I just want to add on to what Myra said about negating the male gaze without putting other women down, or creating binaries within which to categorise women. Although some of the songs you have mentioned succeed in doing so, many artists fail to be cognisant of the community they may be marginalising by promoting another. For example, Meghan Trainor's 'All About That Bass' seemed like an empowering song about body-positivity, but it was promoting a certain body type whilst shaming another; 'I'm bringing booty back

Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that' faced a lot of backlash in particular. An artist who sings about inclusivity well is also Lizzo. A lot of Taylor Swift's old songs, like You…


Myra Shahab
Myra Shahab
07 thg 12, 2022

I completely agree with your overall stance of how songs like the ones you have mentioned are an empowering step towards breaking away from the male gaze and recognizing a woman's insecurities around her body as those imposed by society that have been internalized since our early socialization. However, when you mention Taylor Swift's song 'You Belong with Me' and the specific lyric from it, I would argue that it isn't the ideal way to express non-conformity to the male gaze since it puts women against women and the entire idea through the whole song is Taylor trying to prove her character as the better one and puts the other girl down. You can negate the male gaze without putting…

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I agree with the song reference that you made. It should never be a competition between two women. However, the reason why I quoted Taylor Swift's lyrics was to show how much the idea of male gaze is internalized. The simple version of Taylor swift thinks that the reason she is not desirable is because of the stark difference in her outlook (with respect to the other version who is wearing opposite attire). Where did this idea come from? Who told her that wearing t-shirts won't get her a boy but wearing short skirts would? Its because she saw this happening (the boy only giving his attention to the other version of TS). Therefore, not completely, but the idea of…

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