Universitas Indonesia Conferences, 7th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

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Dandan: Discourses on Beauty and Social Order among Women in the Academia
Suzie Handayani

Building: Soegondo Building
Room: 523
Date: 2019-07-25 03:00 PM – 04:30 PM
Last modified: 2019-06-21


Capitalizing on women’s appearance has become more massive among companies in the past decade in Indonesia. With women entering the work force, beauty standards have become part of the job requirements, some are explicit, some are implied. Most studies on female beauty usually identify these women as consumers and workers who try to juggle between using their beauty as an empowerment and the awareness that they are being commodified.  The result usually shows how the pursuit of beautification is a paradox: it is trivialized but it needs to be executed seriously.

This research looks into the discourses of beauty among young women at a university as members of the academia. These are young women who work as lecturers and administration staff. The research looks into the way these women talk about their beauty routine and what it means to them. Since these women see academia as a no-nonsense intellectual environment, the discourse of personal beautification is a negotiation between looking beautiful as women but taken seriously as professionals. 
The findings suggests that he seemingly trivial discourses of beauty unveils complex social dynamics. It discloses the fact that the way these women narrate their  beauty and makeup rituals is governed by a pervasive gender ideology and social relations. The discourse around make up provided by these women can be traced to a wider socio-historical background both globally and locally. Applying makeup may signify different things for different women. The way these women define dandan are consistently filled with narratives of social network and social hierarchy.

The way that these women explains their discourse of beauty indicates how these women cannot escape the gender ideology that surrounds them. As professionals they are trying to eliminate the trivialization of beautification by downplaying their practice of  dandan but still adhering to ideology behind it.