On Beauty: Thoughts & Confessions

So recently, I was checking in on the blogs I follow and of course one of them had a collection of links, which led me to this blog by Sarah and specifically, her post Beauty and the Pedestal which I think every woman alive can pretty much relate to in one way or another.  I started commenting in reply and the comment became a paragraph and then two and I decided I had more to say than what can be appropriate for the length of a comment.
So these are some of my thoughts. First off,

Some Confessions:
  • I don't post many pictures of myself here on my own blog or on facebook or instagram for the specific reason that I hate how I look.  When I do, I try to edit them with overlays or whatever to hide specific problems, e.g., my arms look particularly fat in that pose or something.
  • Truth: if I was still at my thinnest, I probably wouldn't have as much of a problem posting a few more pics.  
  • I KNOW I am my own worst critic.  Knowing I'm hard on myself doesn't stop me from being so. 
  • I'm kind of neurotic and vain for someone who prefers natural beauty.  That is, I am constantly obsessing over trying to find a super-great shampoo/conditioner combination to give me the hair I want, but I am unwilling to spend an extra twenty minutes to iron it.
 I generally prefer a more natural look (because I'm lazy and also hate the feeling of too much product on my face/hair) but I can't help but think this is how I "should" be (because this is what people/men/society/whatever likes.

Check these out:

^Sometimes I wish I looked like this girl.  Then again, I'm incredibly lazy and damn, I counted 'em and including tools, she uses 21 products (I counted mascara twice since she uses a 2-stepper).  But dude, I counted mine and felt woefully inadequate.  Including brushes/tools, I use:
wait for it....

......five.

Fucking five.  Six if I'm feeling fancy.
And this is just make-up; it doesn't include things like moisturizer, but it does tell me that I fail at beauty.

***I'd like to make a note that I have no idea who this girl is, I just stumbled upon her videos one day and some of her hair tips are actually helpful and I actually think she's gorgeous even before she does anything to her face.***

***Also: I think it's important to note the time it takes to do these things and also money.  The MAC Pro Longwear Foundation she uses?  It's about $30.00/bottle.  And the Kabuki brush she uses to apply it?  Right around $25.  Shit is not cheap.***
_________________________________________________________________

So...what about beauty?  As a society, we DO hold it up on a pedestal and don't even deny it.  On an individual basis, we are intelligent creatures and (most of us) don't honestly value physical beauty as part of our desert-island-survival kit.  We have logic and reason and know that having long, shiny, swinging hair doesn't make a good person.  But we all WANT shiny, swinging hair and it's what we desire that is peddled in advertisements everywhere.  That's how economy works: find something people want and convince them that if they buy your product, they will have it.
Problems arise when physical beauty becomes a focus of reverence, and we all know this, yet except for like, maybe two people alive, we all struggle with the whole beauty issue.

Some Random Notes:
  • So we're all aware of (I hope) the whole "how-women-professionals-are-portrayed-in-movies-and-TV" thing.  I mean, who hasn't made fun of how fabulous every single TV doctor somehow manages to look?  For my part, I lost my shit with laughter when I attempted to watch a few episodes of CSI: Miami - and apparently I'm not the only one who questioned the appearance of their female stars and the whole flowing-hair-dangling-into-crime-scenes/super-unprofessional-cleavage-alert thing.  And yet...
  • When T2 came out back in the day, Linda Hamilton took a ton of flack for her appearance in the movie, despite it being the most realistic.  Because she's Sarah Connor and she doesn't give a shit about lipstick or smoothing hair serum.  She cares about making her body into a weapon to help prepare her son for when the end of the world shit hits the fan.  So....she gets bashed for not being attractive enough, but if she was wearing blush and sporting perfect honey-blonde highlights, we'd laugh at how stupid it looks for that role.  Nice.
  • Tabloids love celebrities who have any kind of weight issue, no matter what.  If they are skinny, they have an eating disorder and they show pictures of skin hung over skeletons wearing bikinis.  But the minute they gain a little bit of weight, what we suddenly see is photos of so-and-so "pigging out" by eating a cheeseburger and fries and their "battle with fat."  Christina Aguilera was super skinny and people screamed eating disorder.  She gained weight and people ripped her to shreds calling her a fat cow.  She lost some weight and suddenly she was revered again for being sexy and super trim.  Oy.  Can't win.  Also: nice to know the most important thing about the singer is what she weighs.

So...what's up?  What do we do?  There are a lot of questions and ideas.  Some people suggest beauty not be a focus at all, but I don't really think that's realistic.  Remember the whole hoop-la over the women of Mensa posing for Playboy? Okay, maybe not, since it was back in '85.  But it still caused a lot of uproar.  Also, there was this:
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=950&dat=19851001&id=vPQLAAAAIBAJ&sjid=9lkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6584,142864


GRRRR.
(Yes, they have the right, blah-blah-blah.  Point is, being attractive and normal and also a genius isn't enough - it's important to prove that smart women can be sexy, too!)

Sarah wrote in her post that she feels like the key is in balance.  I agree with this.  I do agree with giving girls strong and intelligent role models, and there is nothing wrong with being pretty.  Even Elizabeth Bennett wasn't exactly dog-tacular.
The trouble comes when we get statements like this:
  • (When smoking inside a non-smoking workplace and someone told her to put it out) - "Hey, I'm cute.  I can do whatever I want."
  • (Waves hand up and down her body, wearing a belly shirt and low-riders.)  "You see this?  I get what I want."
^^^It is that attitude above that is why women end up hating each other.^^^

Some More Confessions:
  • When I see women in magazines, especially things like Victoria's Secret, I can't help but compare myself to them and feel horrible, even though I know and also can clearly SEE the photoshopping, still, something inside me says: "this is how you are supposed to look.  You are ugly."
  • In my (adult) life, no man has ever said he thinks I'm attractive, cute, pretty, or anything - except for Shawn.  That's pathetic.  It's also pathetic that I'm even aware of that particular stat about my life.  It's also okay, because Shawn thinks I'm cute no matter what I look like.  (He's a freak.)  But seriously, fuck flowers and jewelry - sincere compliments are where it's at (it's possible I'm alone in this, however.  I know plenty of women who wish their men would buy them more jewelry.)
There is no easy answer.  What I believe is that when it comes to teaching girls about beauty, we need to let them know everyone is beautiful in some way, that life is valuable, we need to tell little girls they are pretty but that its not how straight her hair is but how she treats others that matters.  We need to encourage young girls to play with Barbie and sure, listen to Katy Perry if that's what they like, but to also do their math, and to have compassion and to work hard and that their value doesn't come from how much skin they show or what they look like.


        


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