Friday 16 September 2011

Feminist Friday XVI: The Beauty Myth

The Beauty Myth. Oy. I've sat here and thought and thought and thought. I know that the media influences our concept of beauty. I know that the media portrays an extremely warped version of what they call beauty. There is an ever growing pressure on women and young girls to be beautiful and I wholeheartedly think that this is intrinsically wrong and, to some extent, downright evil. No one should be made to feel that their physical appearance is directly linked to their value as a person.

Yet here I sit, a proud and ardent feminist, who wants to be pretty. Yes I want people to think that I am intelligent, but I also want people to think I'm pretty. How the hell do I rationalize that with what I've just previously stated? I can totally rationalize that I like make-up and long blue-black eyelashes, that's easy. Yes, it is society that dictates that long, lush lashes are best, but in choosing to make my transparent blonde lashes lovely and dark I'm not really usurping my feminist beliefs. Yes, I'm buying into the beauty machine that costs us all hundreds a  year, but I'm not giving up any real power.

If I had to choose between being intelligent or being physically beautiful, I'd choose intelligence every time. That doesn't mean that I don't want to feel physically beautiful, too. I could go off on a tangent about what real beauty is, but I've already done that in my Born to Be Beautiful post so you can read that again if you like. I know you are as beautiful as you feel but that doesn't stop me from wanting to feel attractive, too. 

I know that feminists can be physically beautiful. Gloria Steinem is one of the most physically beautiful (and just straight up beautiful) people I have ever seen in real life: she is stunning. She's also an intellectual and political icon and powerhouse. She had the most amazing nails (yes, I noticed so what?), so are you going to say that since she had well manicured nails that she's not a real feminist for buying into the beauty machine? Obviously not.

I think I'm rambling here now but my point is that you can want to be pretty, but still not condone the so called beauty myth. I can use make-up but still disapprove of over photo-shopped and airbrushed images in magazines. I sometimes have trouble reconciling the fact that I WANT to look pretty with the fact that the media PRESSURES women to look pretty. I think what all feminists want is a more realistic portrayal of beauty in the media; a beauty that is all colours, shapes, sizes, ethnicities, sexualities and ages. It's okay to want to look good, but we shouldn't feel pressured to look good. At least I hope so....

Feminist Friday XVI:
The Beauty Myth

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Melaina25 said...

I think if you are doing it for you and not what others think then it is not being feminist. It's about feeling good about you. If you feel good with no make up then fine but it is also ok to feel good with some makeup on x

Melaina25 said...

It definitely makes me feel good, but why does it make me feel good?

Melaina25 said...

I don't mind admitting that this is the part of feminism where I become confused.  As I've noted in my piece this week, I use make-up as a mask rather that to attract attention.  Does that make me any less of a feminist because I am using make-up (and I read the shaving post from a few weeks ago with interest too)?  For me, it feels like part of my own personal grooming process.  

At the other end of the scale - and one that I almost touched on too - the enhanced images we see in adverts and magazines distort the natural image that we should be proud to display.  I wanted to include this video in my post somewhere but it will wait for another day.  I did show my daughter it a couple of years ago though.  It opened her eyes.

Melaina25 said...

Photoshopping is OUT OF CONTROL. When you see magazine covers of starlets who are already naturally thin who are photoshopped to be even THINNER it just makes you gasp. As I said to my MIL last night 50 years ago Marilyn Monroe was the ideal and she was a size 16. 50 years was not that long ago how have we gone from a relatively realistic version of beauty to this?

Melaina25 said...

I like to put make up on and feel good for me.  I don't think its treading on feminist grounds unless someone is pressured to look good for someone else, if they really don't want to do it themselves.  

It makes us feel good because everyone likes to be accepted and liked, and pretty people are generally tolerated and liked more than people who are not so pretty.  Sad fact of life that one.

ps I clicked on Nicki's link, I loved that advert.

Melaina25 said...

There was the whole American Vogue (was it Vogue or Cosmo or something) that slimmed down Kate Middleton's waist in her "arriving at the church" pictures controversy, too wasn't there?  That REALLY wound me up!!