Tag Archives: society

Why This Is Still Not Okay

9 Aug

I’ve gotten on my soap box about eating disorders and beauty and feminism and whatnot before. I’ve ranted about today’s standard of skinny, raged about how for women, apparently beauty is now inversely correlated with the number of inches in your waistline. That spiel is nothing new.

Then today I found this:

Or more completely, I found a whole website: http://www.functionalps.com/blog/2013/04/20/women-vintage-weight-gain-ads/

Now, my split-second reaction to this was to think “Wow, I thought we were supposed to have progressed since the 50’s. If only we could go back to the good ol’ days when a women’s body was actually appreciated!”

Then my brain kicked in.

Screeeeeech! Hang on a second. Let’s back up here. This advertising scheme – it’s not really any different from the infestation of diet commercials and “slimming secret” ads that we’re bombarded with nowadays. Sure, the ads may be touting a body form that’s closer to average, but the message behind these weight-gain ads is exactly the same as today’s weight-loss ones.

“Don’t look like this? Then you are not good enough. You are less desirable. If you use this product then it will fix you.”

Hell, these weight-gain ads are even more aggressive in their body-shaming than most of today’s propaganda. Take the ad I pictured above. Let’s tease out some of its messages:

1. If you are skinny, then you have no sex appeal.

2. Apparently it’s okay to use two stereotypically-bodied males demeaning a female passerby as a marketing technique. And according to the ad, it’s the woman’s fault for being “too skinny,” not the males’ faults for being a couple of assholes who talk out of their dicks and reverse cat-call at women who haven’t asked for their opinion.

3. Woman-to-woman support comes in the form of woman A telling woman B how to “fix” herself in order to conform better to society’s body ideal, rather than reaffirming woman B’s intrinsic worthy and beauty or – better yet – going out and punching our two assholes for treating a woman as nothing more than a sex object.

Ugh. And those are just the top three things I noticed right away.

And while that particular advertisements features a couple of empty-headed Romeos in its cast, guys weren’t safe from this pounds-equal-pleasure campaign either:

Poor guys. Seems they’ve had to deal with the biggerbetterstronger deluge for even longer than a lot of us realized. More brawn! More biceps! More abs!

Are you hitting your head against the desk yet? I have the urge to do so. Repeatedly.

Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that all these advertisements happen within a heterosexual paradigm. The ads are all about making women desirable to men and men desirable to women. Forget any of the other flavors of sexual attraction. I mean, I guess this was the 50’s after all. I’m not sure their dictionaries even included the word “lesbian” yet.

So, some of you may now be shaking your heads at me in bemusement wondering, “between thin-shaming and fat-shaming, is there any way to win with you? What do you want us to look like then?”

But that’s the point. I don’t want you or them or her to look like anything in particular. Nobody need give a damn about what my ascetic preferences are, and I frankly am the only one whose opinion of how I look matters. Well, I might give my boyfriend’s opinion some sway, but that’s a freely given concession, and in the end, I am the one who has the final say.

Between thin-shaming and fat-shaming… can we just cut out the shame? Can we stop with product-pushing that tells us that no matter what we look like, our bodies are not good enough? No matter what we do, there will always be another pound to lose or pound to gain, another wrinkle to smooth, another lash to make luscious, another patch of cellulite to laser away. No matter how close to “good” you are, there will always be something more.

Because guess what? Our bodies weren’t fucking supposed to look like they got mind-jizzed out of photoshop! Wrinkles and cellulite and fatterness and skinnierness have always been there! Nature or God or whomever you assign creative power apparently didn’t think it was a problem. Seeing how, you know, through years of evolution and biological selection and wraths of God it’s all still here.

Society, usually the patriarchal sector, was the one that decided all these things were apparently a “problem.”

Yeah. Turns out that’s all bullshit. They’re not.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t celebrate beauty. But molding our economy around a sales line of pandemic insufficiency is NOT in any way a celebration of beauty. Prettiness and handsomeness and sexiness and ugliness are subjective. They change with the decade and with the person. If you see something you like in someone – and this goes beyond their assets at the dermal layer – then please, go ahead and tell them. But make sure you are praising someone for what is there, instead of criticizing them for what is not.

Beauty

9 Feb

When searching for an image to attend a poem I wrote for another site entitled “The Mechanics of Being a Girl,” I typed in “beauty” as my search query. This image was the very first result.

%22beauty%22

And I thought, for today’s society, how apt.

The image provided of “beauty” is of something constructed – pulled, plucked, brushed, painted. Beauty is an external to be mâchéd onto the human body, not something intrinsic to be gently coaxed out. The goal is to get the girl’s body to conform to a set of standards, not to showcase the shape and form present naturally. Even the girl’s body itself is a product, wrapped in plastic wrap, packaged like a baked good.

Is this what we have decided beauty is in our Western, “modern” society? Something artificial, encased in plastic and fresh from the factory? I am no stranger to this paradigm – I straighten my curls for the sake of “looking better” (a.k.a. more controlled), I apply all sorts of powders and mouses and glosses to my face with the thinly saving grace of holding that it’s mere fun to use my face as a canvas, a statement that’s true but doesn’t fully own up to the fact that I also don’t think my face is “pretty enough” or even just acceptable enough as-is. If I’m honest with myself, I do constantly compare myself to a preconceived notion of what I “should” look like, every time I look in the mirror. Or get dressed. Or pass by my reflection in the window.

If I’m truly honest, it’s more than a preoccupation – it’s an obsession. I am my own judge and jury, day in and day out, passing rule – usually unfavorably – on the thing that carries me through life. I forget to appreciate the living mass of physical existence that I live in and instead view it as one more rough edge to be buffed into shape by life’s nail files.

I am compassionate towards others. I am compassionate towards animals. Hell, I’m compassionate towards a tree. And yet I am the cruelest I ever get toward my body. I channel my self-hatred towards the corporeal embodiment of myself. Yes, I know that much of this is the result of my own psychological shortcomings, but I refuse to assign the blame completely to nature. Nurture does not come off clean.

I am certain that there is a surprising amount of culpability in something as seemingly simple as a tube of lipstick.

Forget skeletons in the closet. What about the skeletons in your makeup bag?