A lot of the time these people don't realize that they are using coping mechanisms but instead insist that their behaviour is "normal", it's just the way they are, or it is just their preference. In some cases people who do not engage in these coping mechanisms (because they have not experienced the same damage or fear) are told they are "abnormal" for not expressing the same behaviours! In other cases, because these coping mechanisms are used by influential people (e.g., family, friends, neighbors, celebrities, politicians, academics) other people who don't have the same fear or damage adopt the mechanisms and it become a trend. Then when asked about the behaviour people will respond, "I do it because I like it not because of anyone else".
These are some things I think some women started doing as a coping mechanism but they have now become a trend and "normal" behaviour merely expressing someone's preferences:
- Excessive or frequent plastic surgery- Originally used by accident victims and those born with deformities and then those with below average looks. Then it was adopted by wealthy celebrities who's careers depend on their looks. Now done by anyone to fit with high standards of beauty, including very attractive people who are perfectionists and see flaws where they do not exist.
- Maintaining a below average weight- Originally the undesired state of people who were deprived of food or ill. Then adopted by individuals with anorexia who needed to feel in control (a mental illness). Then adopted by the fashion industry as beautiful and achieved through starvation, bulimia, or drugs. Now adopted by some women who see being underweight as beautiful and desirable to men.
- Casual sex and being promiscuous- Originally only adopted by prostitutes or against a woman's will. Men were encouraged to do this prior to marriage. Then this was promoted after the advent of birth control. Now adopted by some women to get attention, affection, or love when they don't think they will get it otherwise. Also done by women who have been sexually abused and mixed up about love, sex, and the value of their bodies. Adopted by others because feminism taught them that women can and should do whatever men do. Others do it because it has been labeled "normal", "healthy", and "harmless" and they are told it is no big deal (i.e., slut shaming is wrong).
- Excessive make-up- Originally worn by prostitutes to distinguish themselves from other women. Worn heavily by actresses so that they could be seen on stage and on camera. Also worn heavily by women with bad skin or deformities. Now used by regular women for enhancement. Also used by some to express a certain style (e.g., goth, punk, gyaru etc.)
- Excessive drinking and doing drugs- Originally done by women of ill repute or at least by other women behind closed doors at parties (never before the general public). Also done by women to cope with abuse or trauma. Now done for similar reasons but also because it has been deemed "normal", "fun", or "because men do it so women should be allowed too" (e.g., ladettes).
- Becoming workaholics- Originally done by women out of necessity to care for their families. Also done by women to prove that they could do the same work as men. Now done by some women who do find it fulfilling. However done by others because they feel pressure to do so and that it is "normal" to devote yourself to work, 14 hours a day, 6 days a week.
- Excessive shopping- Originally done only by the wealthy who could afford it. Now done because it is seen as "normal" or even "good for the economy" to regularly consume, get the latest and newest thing, and keep up with the Jones'. Also done by addicts who cope with stress by shopping and may end up in debt or become hoarders.
- Hair straightening- Here's a big one. Originally done by Black women because their natural hair was insulted, they couldn't get jobs, or they were mistreated if they did not have straight hair. This became a trend and then "the norm". Done today because it is the norm and sometimes women with natural hair are still teased and rejected. Similar statements can be made about using skin bleach.
- "Mean mugging" or making one's face look mean- Done originally when someone was feeling angry or sad. Worn by women (and men) who live under constant stress or unpleasant circumstances because they feel bad. Then adopted by women (and men) because it kept men and other people from bothering them even though they were not unhappy. Then adopted by the hip hop industry as a sign of defiance (also punk and metal communities, rebellious teens etc.). Now adopted by fans of this music and considered "the norm" or "keeping it real" for Black people. Black women who do not mean mug are sometimes called "whitewashed".
- Wearing dresses and feminine clothing- Originally done (I'm guessing) to distinguish women from men and women were only allowed to wear women's clothing. Then fashion was created and women dressed to be attractive to men and it fueled an industry. Only people dressed in men's clothing were allowed to do certain things (e.g., vote, walk alone at night etc.) and men and women had different uniforms. Now women wear dresses and feminine clothing because society generally approves (some feminists don't), they get rewards for doing it (e.g., attention), and they may find it more attractive because it is so visible, heavily advertised, and more varied than men's clothing. There is no knowing if we are socialized to like it or if we like it because it looks good.
- Supporting feminism- Many women (especially White women) supported it because they wanted to work, be treated as equals, and be protected by the law. Many supported it because they expected that it would make their lives better. Now some women support it because they agree with modern feminism. Others only support it because they feel they owe feminists for major things they did in the past and they are told that anything less is condoning their own oppression. Others have learned that they may be ridiculed or mistreated if they self-label as feminists so they resist that label.