Beauty Depicted in
“Boreas” by John William Waterhouse
“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” ~ Harriet Braiker
We just returned home after having dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant. I tried a couple of new rolls tonight: a volcano roll and another roll that I cannot remember the name of for the life of me. It was just the two of us; we only do this about once every two months.
I always feel very superior and healthy when I eat sushi and drink green tea. I can just feel those bad cells being replenished with Omega 3 fatty acides from the fresh fish, and an overall detox of my system from the green tea.
I don’t know how much of this is true, but it’s what I like to believe, especially in light of the fact that I seemed to gain at least seven pounds while I was on that new headache medicine, this after noticeably losing some weight. I hate this weight roller coaster. It makes me feel so bad about myself, as if I am just some lump, a bad representation of my former self.
To make things even worse, I was reading a story today about movie villains, and it included a picture spread of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter next to Sharon Stone, as the ice pick killer in Basic Instinct. Sharon Stone, with or without airbrushing, looks fabulous. I am overcome with jealousy when I see her pictures because she is one of those women who just gets better with age.
I know. She has the money for a personal trainer and probably a personal chef, but the fact is that at the end of the day, it’s her body and her face, and I hate how these pictures of beautiful women make me feel.
“Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, a good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-dressed, well-groomed, and unaggressive.” ~ Marya Mannes
I also know that I am not the only normal woman who feels this way. Society has conditioned females to be in a state of constant anxiety about their bodies, their faces, their conversational abilities, even their choices in shoes. Just peruse the magazine section of any store: the covers are graced with luminous women who look as if they have never gotten up in the morning with crust in their eyes, and hair that looks as if gerbils nested in it.
But what really pisses me off is that after all of these years and all of my women’s studies courses, I am still a victim when it comes to society’s socialization of females.
On the other hand, men do not face nearly the same pressures as women when it comes to looking good, dressing well, and always being outstanding at their jobs. Granted, the whole stigma associated with not looking your best all of the time is starting to infiltrate the marketing aimed at men, but not nearly as profusely as that aimed at women. Yet women still feel a need to be wonderful mothers, sexy spouses, and fearless in the workplace, with each role being a contradiction of the next.
Advertisers in general bear a large part of the responsibility for the deep feelings of inadequacy that drive women to psychiatrists, pills, or the bottle. ~ Marya Mannes
Don’t believe me? Just watch one evening (let’s say three hours) of prime time television. Count the number of commercials aimed at women versus the number of commercials aimed at men. And notice just exactly how these commercials aimed at women are focused. An Applebees commercial in which the men are enjoying hot wings does not fall into the socialization of which I speak; more, it’s just a reflection of how commercials aimed at men focus on enjoyment more than anything else.
Women are assaulted in magazines, on television, on the radio, even on line to get rid of wrinkles, eat yogurt that helps them to be more regular, whiten their teeth with new, better fitting whitening strips, and to end their affairs with their old mops and brooms. How many men are targeted in commercials about replacing brooms and mops with Swiffer Wet Jets? How many men are cautioned about eating more yogurt ? How many men are asked if they get bloated, moody, and crampy every month?
Do you see my point? Men are depicted in commercials as having fun: wearing big Number 1 foam fingers at football games, having beers with a bunch of friends, using the latest portable machine to make their abs rippled like washboards. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a commercial in which a man is bemoaning how awful his kitchen floor looks. In one commercial, a group of men are at the bar, ordering premium vodka or tequila or something while some stylish woman in a black dress has her arm draped around one of the men. She is literally arm candy, while the men are incredibly intelligent for ordering this premium liquor. At least, that’s what I get from this commercial.
Do you ever see a commercial in which a man is complaining to his best friend being bloated? How about one in which someone tells him that he should be wearing better underwear, the kind that gives him more “lift and support”? Now that would be a commercial worth watching.
“It matters more what’s in a woman’s face than what’s on it.” ~ Claudette Colbert
Understandably, I am more than a little cynical about this great disparity between the sexes. I mean come on. To look good, a man has to shave and shower and throw on a tuxedo with some clean underwear and shoes that aren’t scuffed.
A woman getting ready for a black tie event needs to shave, shower, pluck, depilatory, put moisturizer on her face, a different moisturizer on the rest of her body, paint her finger nails, paint her toe nails (after using an abrasive skin slougher on her feet to make sure that they are extra smooth), add mousse and gel to her hair, come up with some kind of hairstyle that is flattering, put on concealer, foundation, loose powder, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, lip conditioner, lipstick and gloss. Not to mention finding just the right jewelry and trying on 10 pairs of shoes before deciding on the first pair that she tried.
I left out at least ten steps in the above, and then after all of this primping, plucking, and preening, I’ll bet you that there isn’t one woman who still isn’t sure that she picked the right dress, or the right shoes, or the right shade of lipstick. And as she is walking to the car, she’ll look down and see what is supposed to be the natural curve of her belly and immediately think that she needs to put on another Spanx to hold in her grotesque fat before she lets anyone see her in public.
“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.'” ~ Shirley Chisholm
We females are socialized from a very early age to try to look pretty whenever possible. We are taught table manners, and the proper etiquette for what to do in a stranger’s home.
Boys grow up to be men who belch and then laugh about it, compare body odors, consider cleaning up to be changing yesterday’s t-shirt, and make it a point to use the decorative soaps in other people’s bathrooms just because they know that they shouldn’t. And all of this is considered to be absolutely hilarious.
I know that I’m generalizing, but I just can’t help but remember earlier in the evening as I was putting the last piece of my volcano roll in my mouth, that I looked down at my stomach and thought to myself, “ugh, I am so fat. I can’t stand myself.” You can bet that when Corey put the last piece of sushi in his mouth, his first thought was probably that he wanted more sushi.
“The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.” ~ Bella Abzug
No, not all men are boors, and not all women are preoccupied with their physicality. But the chances are far greater that most of the women you will meet during your life will have said at some point: “I hate my body. I wish that I looked like X.”
I always wanted blond hair, and my hair is very dark brown. My daughter always wanted dark hair, and her hair is dirty blond. My oldest son, on the other hand, comes into my room and looks in my mirror and says, very confidently, “God I’m sexy.” And then he walks out like a rooster getting ready to take a stroll among the hens. We all have the same genes. But my son has the one thing that Alexis and I will never have: a Y chromosome. And that makes all of the difference.
That Y chromosone is a free pass. It allows the holder to ignore social signals, be completely confident about looks, and to dare anyone to say anything negative about the holder, even when something negative could be said.
Socialization is a bitch, but genetics make socialization moot. No matter how far we’ve come “to get where we’ve got to today,” and even though we have our own cigarettes and razors, it’s going to be a long, long time before someone’s daughter struts into the bedroom, looks in the mirror and says, “God, I’m sexy” without being sarcastic about it.
So let me close with the following:
“I am beautiful as I am. I am the shape that was gifted. My breasts are no longer perky and upright like when I was a teenager. My hips are wider than that of a fashion model’s. For this I am glad, for these are the signs of a life lived.” ~ Cindy Olsen, co-owner of The Body Objective
There will be more later. Peace.
6 thoughts on ““In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” ~ Coco Chanel”
Lita I’m a large woman, over 400 pounds. I’m also a person who has pushed ‘society’ to accept us as we are. Some are short or fat or thin or …. whatever. We’re different for a reason. Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?
YOU are lovely as is every person on this earth. We each have our own special talents, likes, dislikes and niche in this world whether or not we’ve found it or are still seeking it.
Even though I push for people to accept each other as they are I still have a huge issue accept MYSELF. I know, conundrums abound. My fiance tells me I’m beautiful and I doubt I’ll ever believe him, may God bless him immensely for his patience. My self confidence is quite low thanks to being continually teased and berated as a child by family and ‘friends’. I put myself in a dangerous situation due to wanting to be accepted and loved and was raped just because I wanted someone to find me desirable. Sadly it was a pedophile (I was only 14) who took more than just my innocence.
Later on depression medications I gained substantial weight. I was on Paxil for over 10 years gaining over 150 lbs that I just couldn’t loose, when a doctor let it slip that one of the side-effects of this medication is weight gain. :O HUH? I immediately told him to remove me from it and get something else. 5 years later and I still can’t shed the weight.
All of this relates to the difference of the sexes. You are so right that the Y chromosome is a pass for males that they relish and wag in our faces continually and then turn around had have the gall to criticize females for some slight perceived imperfection.
We can not, will not and should not attempt to fit into the “models” we see in the MSM. The photos are not only highly touched but they pull our daughters and ourselves into an unrealistic goal. We just can’t get there no matter how hard we try.
Sorry for the long comment. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine and I just felt the need to share, as it were.
I love your writing!!
No, please, feel free to write as much as you wish or need.
I think that societies all over the world, not just ours, are so hard on women/females/girls. I am sooo sorry about what happened to you. I hope that the person was punished, but I have a feeling that like most young girls who are taken advantage of, you may not have reported it.
My mother’s constant remarks about the way that I dressed, styled my hair, the shoes that I wore, my double chins–which are inherited, by the way–everything, it all affected so much more than she has ever realized. The few times that I tried to say something to her about it, she asked me why I was being so thin-skinned.
There is a place in this world for each of us; just as there is a partner in this world for each of us if we so desire. I, like you, am so blessed that my husband thinks that I am beautiful, but it’s so hard when deep inside, you just can’t believe the man who loves you. There is a part of you that says, “I can’t possibly be beautiful. You are only saying that because you feel sorry for me.” And I hate that that’s the way that so many women are. It’s not an act; it’s a very real situation, and I just don’t think that men can truly understand because they do not face te same criticisms as women.
Thanks again for dropping by and for your compliment on my writing. I really appreciate it. Please come back soon.
You’re right. I didn’t report it then nor the other two times. My father was a cop. He’d have given up his career and life (in prison) to seek his own justice and I wouldn’t permit that. He’s disowned me now due to my life decisions that he won’t accept but I still love him and won’t add this knowledge to his deck of “pain Dee caused”. I was often accused of being thin skinned. I would walk down the halls of school, or even on the street, and be called horrible names or up the stairs in school and have people tweak at my ass. All the while laughing and thinking they were so cool. They don’t know what scars they caused.
We’re not thin skinned. We’re humans who deserve common courtesies and not to have our person nor mind violated by such hateful things. The scars last a life time. I’m 44 and still feel the pinches and hear the laughter from my youth.
Oh Dee, my heart aches for you, even moreso because I completely understand what you are saying about your father.
I’m going to tell you a story. When I was teaching at ODU, I had the loveliest foreign woman in my class. I cannot remember from which country she came, but it was one in which daughters who are molested or raped are considered unclean. Well, she was date raped. I was the first person that she told. I asked if she had told her parents, and she said that she could never do that. Each class period, I watched her deteriorate a little more. I urged her to go to the university’s counseling center, which she did.
Eventually, she dropped out of school. She was too emotionally raw to be able to study. A few years later, the Dean contact me and asked if I remembered her. I said yes. She had finally reported what had happened and told her parents. Her father was not emotionally understanding but did stand by her. The Dean wanted to know if I would let her take the final exam and get a grade. You see, rather than failing her, I had given her an incomplete in the hopes that she would someday be able to finish. I told the Dean that I would absolutely let her take the final. It took her about six more months, but she finally did the final and turned it in, and I gave her a grade.
I was glad that she had sought help and some kind of closure. I don’t know where she is today, but I am hoping that she has survived and not become a statistic.
What that man did to you is unconscionable. I hate that he was punished by the law because he probably did it before you to other girls and after you, which is not your fault. Some people call it a sickness. I don’t view it that way. I view people like that as criminals who will never be rehabilitated.
I’m sure that the way that you were treated in school made you hide behind your body. Many women do that. It’s a vicious circle. No, you are not thin skinned. You are a human being with feelings that were horribly scarred. I’m so sorry for what happened to you, but you sound as if you have tried very courageously to get rid of your demons through your writing.
That is how I have always exorcised my own demons.
Take care. Hugs,
Thanks for writing that. I truly hope that it is read by everyone because women and men too, need to know that the majority of women do not and will never resemble the airbrushed models found on magazine covers. I laughed so hard about your son and his “I am so sexy ” comment. Having five brothers I know exactly, how it was said too. LOL
Alexis is a beautiful young woman, she takes after her mum.
Thank you as always Maureen. I’m so glad that you could appreciate Eamonn’s comment because of your brothers. He simply cannot pass a mirror without looking at himself. On the other hand, Brett is the complete opposite, very humble.
I think that Alexis is beautiful, and the funny thing is that as she gets older, her hair is darkening. Underneath, it is already brown, but now she’s not sure she wants it dark!
Just like the rest of us, she is completely insecure about her looks, her weight, her skin, her hair, even though I tried very hard to raise her to be secure and not like my me. I know that my insecurities stem from my mother’s constant harping about my weight, etc.