House on Mango Street

Hopelessly Inadequate: Cisneros, Clifton, and the Perception of Femininity 10th Grade

According to the National Mental Health Information Center, girls are three times more likely than boys to develop body-image problems in their adolescence. From the advertisements on television to the constant glorification of feminine beauty by the media, adolescent women are being peer-pressured into desperately trying to make themselves look perfect. With this cultural message in mind, adolescent girls who possess physical flaws often feel worthless and inadequate because they judge their self-image purely on physical beauty. For example, in The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Esperanza characterizes herself as inferior to others because she finds her physical flaws appalling. Esperanza's self-esteem is lacking as she struggles to find any beauty in herself compared to the other women in media. Contrary to Esperanza, the speaker in "homage to my hips" by Lucille Clifton expresses her defiance of the cultural definition of femininity by refusing to let her mindset be controlled by others. By doing so, she shows that feminine beauty should empower women, rather than degrade them. In The House on Mango Street, Esperanza perceives her feminine beauty as inferior to the standard of beauty that society idolizes, while...

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