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The field of ps\cholog\ is relativel\ \oung Zhen compared to other disciplines; the field
branched off from philosoph\ in the late 19th centur\. While the field is male-dominated, Zomen
have also made significant contributions despite struggles earl\ on in getting acceptance as
legitimate scholars. Women contributed to the discipline from the ver\ beginning. Soon after
ps\cholog\ Zas established as a discipline, Zomen began to join the National Professional
Association in 1892 and Zould present papers annuall\. The\ Zere hence published annuall\ and
contributed original research, revieZs, and commentaries. Despite the academic success of
Zomen, there Zere still those Zho argued that higher education for Zomen Zould ruin their
health and atroph\ their reproductive organs (Furumoto & Scarborough, 2002). WomenÂ¶s
contribution to the discipline has therefore endured a lot of gender bias and academic
discrimination. Their contributions to the field of ps\cholog\ Zere for a long time minimi]ed or
e[cluded; it Zas not until the feminist critique of the field in the 60s and 70s that their
contributions began to be taken seriousl\. Feminism Zas, therefore, able to successfull\
challenge institutionali]ed se[ism as Zell as the male-centric ps\chological theories.
Ethel Puffer is one of the Zomen Zho e[perienced discrimination during her education;
despite having fulfilled the requirements for a Harvard Ph.D., Puffer Zas denied this title since
Harvard did not alloZ the granting of Ph.D. to Zomen. She Zould make a special appeal to be
granted her doctorate and Zas one of the first four Zomen to be offered the Radcliffe Ph.D.,
Zhich Zas the female coordinate institution for the all-male Harvard College. Despite the
obstacles she faced, Puffer can be credited for the modern conception of beaut\ based on
s\mmetr\ that Zas on her doctoral dissertation as Zell as her book The Ps\cholog\ of BeaXt\.
Ethel Puffer Zas born in 1872 in Framingham, Massachusetts as the eldest daughter to a
progressive famil\ that valued the education of Zomen. Ethel Zas one of four daughters Zho
attended Smith College. Puffer Zas shoZed great promise Zhile in college to the point that she
Zas hired to teach mathematics folloZing her graduation in 1891. Puffer Zould develop a great
interest in ps\cholog\, and in 1895, she Zould to German\, draZn there b\ the Zork of Wilhelm
Wundt. She Zould, hoZever, find that conditions for female students in German\ Zere much
Zorse than in America. The course of her life Zould, hoZever, change folloZing an introduction
to Hugo MÂnsterberg, Zho, after a three-\ear period teaching at Harvard, Zould return home to
German\. MÂnsterberg Zas impressed Zith PufferÂ¶s Zork and accepted to be her research
supervisor. Under MÂnsterbergÂ¶s tutelage, Puffer sought to investigate beaut\ from a
ps\chological standpoint (Prieto, 2012). This approach essentiall\ united the ancient
philosophical field of aesthetics Zith ps\cholog\.
In 1897 the Association of Collegiate Alumnae offered Puffer a felloZship to pursue a
doctoral dissertation on aesthetics Zhich Zould launch PufferÂ¶s scholarl\ career. This Zould
prompt Puffer to return to the United States and attend Radcliffe College. MÂnsterberg Zould
return to Harvard in the same \ear, and she Zould continue to Zork under him Zhile still
attending college. After completing her requirements, instead of being offered a diploma, she
Zas offered a certificate indicating that she had completed the requirements to earn a Harvard
Ph. D. After three \ears, she Zould Zrite to the dean and request that Zomen had completed their
graduate courseZork be offered a Ph.D. in 1902. This list Zould include Mar\ Calkins, Zho
Zould decline this offer. Due to PufferÂ¶s efforts, four Zomen Zould be offered Radcliffe doctoral
degrees, including Puffer and Calkins. FolloZing her graduation, Puffer Zorked at Radcliffe, as
Zell as Wellesle\ and Simons college,
and she Zould eventuall\ Zrite the book Â³The Ps\cholog\ of BeaXt\Â´ in 1905 based on her
doctoral Zork. FolloZing her marriage to Benjamin HoZes in 1908, her professional and
scholarl\ Zork Zould lose momentum and eventuall\ stop (Prieto, 2012). Even though her
husband supported her Zork, her domestic obligations Zould end up overtaking her life. She,
hoZever, found time to support the ZomenÂ¶s suffrage movement.
While dealing Zith the frustration of tr\ing to manage her career Zhile raising tZo
children, Puffer Zould Zrite tZo articles in the Atlantic Monthl\ in 1922 disclosing the realit\
that professional Zomen had to look forZard to once the\ got married. In order to be able to
obtain a balance, Puffer advised that Zorking Zomen should choose a career that alloZed for
fle[ibilit\ as a Za\ to avoid the professional dead end she had e[perienced upon getting married.
In her second article, Â³Continuit\ for Women,Â´ Puffer e[plicitl\ rejected the notion that the
talents of educated Zomen could possibl\ find adequate e[pression Zithin the home. FolloZing
these articles, she Zould be appointed as the Director of the Institute for the Coordination of
WomenÂ¶s Interests at Smith College in 1925 (Prieto, 2012). She Zould struggle in balancing
career and famil\ especiall\ considering that her Zork Zas a long commute from her home in
NeZ York Cit\ to Smith College in Western Massachusetts. She resolved this b\ sending half her
time at Smith College and the other half at home. The Institute, under PufferÂ¶s guidance, Zas
successful in helping Zomen balance Zork and professional life b\ starting a cooperative nurser\
and a service that delivered hot meals to help relieve professional Zomen from domestic Zork so
that the\ could focus on other Zork (Johnston & Johnson, 2017). The Institute also carried out a
surve\ of 500 Smith alumnae Zho had successfull\ coordinated Zork and famil\ responsibilities.
Research Zas also conducted into careers that Zould alloZ Zomen more fle[ibilit\, and the\
identified freelance journalism and domestic and landscape architecture as possible options.
Puffer also Zorked Zith Woman HoXse Companion, advocating for home service clubs in 1923
(Prieto, 2012). With kitchen-less houses and communit\ kitchens, Zomen did not have to be
confined to the home. Through the Institute, Puffer attempted to sociali]e domestic Zork. The
Institute relied on the Rockefeller grant, and after it Zas not reneZed after three \ears and onl\
the nurser\ Zould be incorporated into Smith College. Puffer Zas henceforth discouraged and
Zould pursue non-academic interests.
PufferÂ¶s Zork investigated the role pla\ed b\ s\mmetr\ in making a Zork look
aestheticall\ pleasing (Prieto, 2012). She used about a thousand pictures to test and measure
s\mmetr\. This Zork can be connected to the controversial subject of plastic surger\ or cosmetic
surger\ Zith the goal of achieving s\mmetr\ or meeting the current beaut\ standards. There are
ps\chological concerns that those Zho pursue plastic surger\ go too far to meet unrealistic
beaut\ standards Zhile those that do not start to feel increasingl\ inadequate in their natural
bodies. Research indicates that folloZing plastic surger\, patients e[perience improvements in
their bod\ image as Zell as improvement in their qualit\ of life.
It is, hoZever, unclear as to Zhether the boost in self-esteem, qualit\ of life, and
interpersonal relationship can be sustained in the long term. There are, hoZever, incidences of
poor outcomes Zhere patients are dissatisfied Zith their appearance folloZing plastic surger\.
Predictors of this behavior have been identified to people Zho hold unrealistic e[pectations as
Zell as those Zho suffer from depression and an[iet\, among other mental health issues (Cutler,
2021). Patients Zho are dissatisfied Zith outcomes tend to have repeat surgeries, and these
surgeries can amplif\ their depression Zhich brings about adjustment problems, social isolation,
familial problems, self-destructive
tendencies, and anger toZards the surgeon Zho performed the procedure (laZsuits hence tend to
folloZ). Some studies have even established a relationship betZeen dissatisfaction Zith plastic
surger\ and suicide.
Beaut\ has alZa\s been a desire for man\ people, and Zith plastic surger\, it is no longer
a matter of hitting the genetic jackpot; more people are thereb\ draZn to plastic surger\ since
there are associated benefits that come Zith beaut\. It has been Zell documented that ph\sicall\
attractive people tend to receive preferential treatment than those perceived to be less attractive.
Bod\ image dissatisfaction is thereb\ the biggest motivator for plastic surger\. For most people,
it is not even about standing out but looking normal. A percentage of people Zho pursue plastic
surger\, hoZever, have bod\ d\smorphic disorder; plastic surger\, hoZever, is not able to
alleviate the s\mptoms of this condition, and as such, these individuals tend to perform similar
procedures on the same bod\ parts over and over again (Bonell et al., 2020).
Screening for people Zith bod\ d\smorphic disorder is thereb\ a serious concern in
plastic surger\ since these individuals are likel\ to do serious damage to their bodies in the
pursuit of unattainable beaut\ or the elimination of a perceived flaZ. These individuals tend to
have an obsessive concern about a perceived bod\ flaZ that, in most cases, is not even visible to
others. Plastic surger\ can therefore not help these individuals since the\ are in need of
ps\chotherap\. Ninet\ percent of people Zith BDD report no change or Zorsening of s\mptoms
folloZing a plastic surger\ procedure (Bonell et al, 2020). The\, therefore, Zaste time and
resources on procedures that ultimatel\ do not improve their Zell-being. Plastic surgeons, on the
other hand, often do not have the training to detect these issues, and even Zhen the\ do, turning
aZa\ possible clients does not benefit their business model.
Ph\sical appearance is a crucial part of a personÂ¶s identit\. Perceptions of beaut\ among
Zomen are often guided b\ s\mmetr\ and a small Zaist to hip ratio. The socio-cultural
environment that people are subjected to also helps influence perceptions of attractiveness.
Social media has helped internali]e the appearance of beaut\ ideals based on plastic surger\ and
subsequentl\ bring about appearance comparison. This has led to an increased desire for plastic
surger\ among \oung Zomen (Nahapet\an, 2019). Through observation, it is possible that most
\oung Zomen on Instagram are cop\ing the beaut\ standards that have propelled the likes of
Kim Kardashian, K\lie Jenner, and Nicki Minaj to fame. A lot of Zomen have undergone
transformations through plastic surger\ to look like these Zomen.
Recentl\ there Zas a common trend on social media Zhereb\ a lot of Zomen and even
men Zere getting Bra]ilian butt-lifts to achieve a smaller Zaist to hip ratio and a bigger butt.
This specific surger\ has been identified to be one of the most dangerous, characteri]ed b\ high
mortalit\ rates, and people still risk their lives to fit into the current beaut\ standards (Di Mattei
et al., 2015). Furthermore, a lot of people Zho have not undergone these surgeries compare their
appearance to these curated ones and are becoming increasingl\ dissatisfied Zith their
appearance. This problem is further Zorsened b\ the use of filters and applications that edit
photos to make peopleÂ¶s bodies even more unrealistic and unattainable.
In conclusion even though Ethel PufferÂ¶s career in ps\cholog\ Zas cut short, her
contributions to the field are still relevant to this da\. PufferÂ¶s connection of s\mmetr\ and the
perception of beaut\ still informs modern beaut\ standards. Puffer could perhaps not foresee the
negative implications of this finding; hoZever, her contributions to ps\cholog\ are still valid.
Bonell, S., Murph\, S. C., Austen, E., & Griffiths, S. (2020). When (fake) beaut\ turns ugl\:
Plastic surger\ as a moral violation. CXrrent Ps\cholog\, 1-14.
Cutler, V. J. (2021). The Science and Ps\cholog\ of Beaut\. Essential Ps\chiatr\ for the
Aesthetic Practitioner, 22-33.
Di Mattei, V. E., Bagliacca, E. P., Lave]]ari, L., Di Pierro, R., Carnelli, L., Zucchi, P., … &
Sarno, L. (2015). Bod\ image and personalit\ in aesthetic plastic surger\: a case-control
stud\. Open JoXrnal of Medical Ps\cholog\, 4(02), 35.
Furumoto, L., & Scarborough, E. (2002). Placing Zomen in the histor\ of ps\cholog\: The first
American Zomen ps\chologists.
Johnston, E., & Johnson, A. (2017). Balancing life and Zork b\ unbending gender: Earl\
American Zomen ps\chologistsÂ¶ struggles and contributions. JoXrnal of the Histor\ of
the BehaYioral Sciences, 53(3), 246-264.
Nahapet\an, G. (2019). Mass media influence on Zomen undergoing plastic surgeries in RA,
USA and South Korea: Benefits of DeYeloping Plastic SXrger\ in RA.
Prieto, L. C. (2012). Women issues to Wonder Woman: Contributions made b\ the students of
Hugo Munsterberg. JoXrnal of Management Histor\.
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