10889 - Motherhood and Consumption: Cold War Beauty in Mexico

This paper will examine the links between changing standards of beauty and sexuality, motherhood, and the booming consumer culture of 1940s and 1950s Mexico. Through the examination of Mexican women's magazines like "La Familia," I will show that the standards of beauty for women who identified as mothers changed. Mothers during this period were expected not only to be attractive (as has been historically the case) but that Mexican society during this period also exhorted mothers to be more overtly sexual and sexually attractive for their husbands. This sexuality was linked to new consumption patterns that gained traction not only in Mexico but transnationally as well. Women in the U.S. were exhorted to consume in conscious opposition to communism and to use their beauty and sexuality as ways to resist the "threat" of communism. I argue that these transnational ideals regarding women' s sexuality and beauty held true in Mexico as well, particularly in venues like women's magazines, but that at the same time conservative groups like the Union Catolica Femenina Mexicana criticized "modern women" and their ties to consumer culture. Middle-class mothers then had to navigate between several discourses regarding beauty, modernity and their own sexuality.

Keywords: Beauty, Consumption, Motherhood, Sexuality

Author: Sanders, Nichole (Lynchburg College, Ud States of Am / USA)


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