Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Rosalind Chou

Second Advisor

Dawn Baunach

Third Advisor

James Ainsworth


The Western beauty standard revolves around three main attributes: thinness, youth, and whiteness. Combined, this ideal corresponds with privilege. Past studies have explored how racism and ageism are embedded in the beauty standard, but little work has explored how classism is included in the Western beauty standard. Utilizing the classical theoretical work of Bourdieu and Simmel, I explore the ways in which the Western beauty standard is dependent upon privilege and cultural capital. Using the methodology of a content analysis, the current study examines four women’s fashion and beauty magazines. I find that the both the language and the imagery used in the magazines allows for classism to be explicitly and implicitly displayed. I also explore the intersectionality of classism, racism, and ageism to develop a clearer understanding of how the three types of privilege are sustained within the beauty standard.