When he answered that he does sometimes look at other girls to see if they're pretty, I asked him what shape he preferred on a girl. If he liked rounder, curvier girls, or skinny flat-tummied girls. To my surprise, he said he liked the rounder girls better. That the longer he's with me, the more he likes round, curvy girls, because that's what I am.
I'm pretty sure that's what they call love goggles. I'm sure there might be a girl somewhere that would have been offended by what he said, but I found it to be incredibly sweet. And it got me to thinking about society and our standards of beauty.
The media, with a few exceptions, glorifies women who are thin, tall, and very beautiful. If they don't have a lot of natural beauty, they get heavy doses of makeup and professionally created hair-dos to make up for their plainness. Women everywhere have to see beautiful, perfect celebrities staring back at them from the cover of magazines, on tv, in the movies, in ads. Their perfect beauty is almost inescapable.
I began to wonder if having those women as standards of beauty has changed what we as a society think of as beautiful. Like Chad's love goggles, perhaps we've developed love goggles for thin, tall, perfect women.
Then this weekend, I clicked on a link over at Weighty Matters. It was a page full of Photoshopped celebrities, and it made me realize that, not only are we basing our ideas of beauty on perfect people loaded down with makeup and hair extensions, but then the photos of them are completely overhauled. Check it out. And if that's not enough, this page has some extras.
There's one that made me really stop and think.
What were the folks photoshopping this picture of Jennifer Lawrence thinking? The before shot is beautiful. She's well toned, curvy, smooth, and genuinely lovely. But they didn't want curvy and well toned; no, what they want us to see, what they want us to see as beauty, is a woman that looks emaciated. They want us to see her ribs sticking out, and her hips poking through her skin. They want her face to look gaunt. They want her arms to look skinny and weak.
You know what the phohoshopped version reminds me of? A picture I saw recently of Portia de Rossi, an actress who has written a book about the struggles she's had with anorexia.
|Portia is the one on the right.|
So here we are, in the middle of an obesity epidemic (or so the authorities tell us), and the media is showing us almost nothing but tall, beautiful, perfect, nearly anorexic women. It's all we see, on tv, movies, magazines, ads. And then real women look in the mirror and see non-perfection, wrinkles, a little arm jiggle, maybe cellulite or stretch marks, and they begin to hate themselves.
Our ideas of beauty are skewed. And I believe our ideas of "ideal weight" are also skewed. Who decided what ideal weight is? BMI has serious flaws, including the fact that it doesn't distinguish between fat and muscle, and it doesn't care if you have petite or thick bones. It also doesn't care if your genes tells your body to store extra fat in certain parts of your body, like your butt or your breasts. Does a woman with large breasts have a higher BMI than a woman with small breasts? Of course she does, because she weighs more. And that's ridiculous.
Last August, Discover magazine had an article about BMI in it, and how researchers have decided that BMI is a bad way to measure obesity. So you know what they suggested? They suggest lowering the BMI obesity threshold from 30 to 24 for women and 28 for men. Great. Now almost everyone will be obese.
I think over the years, ideal weight has gotten lower and lower. And our love goggles has made it so we as a society only see tall, rail thin women as beautiful. I don't think most people can even recognize normal, healthy weight anymore. Look at this before-and-after picture of actress Mischa Barton and tell me which one you think is normal and healthy.
Now check out these actresses from the early part of the 20th century.
They're beautiful. They're curvy. Some of them are well toned (look at Lucy's arms). But they're not exactly skinny by today's standards, are they? They're almost... normal. The kind of beauty that doesn't threaten average women. Yes, they're beautiful, but it's a more natural kind of beauty, where there are flaws and imperfections, but those only add character.
I think we've been lead astray by the media into believing that skinny equals beauty, and that you have to have perfectly smooth skin and a flawless face. But it's all an illusion. Celebrities are real people, under the makeup, hair products, and photoshopping. Just for fun, google your favorite actress's name with "without makeup". Here's a couple of mine.
|This is me! Wearing a dress I made! And holding a cucumber I grew!|
I know I'm not in the same league as any of those celebrities up there, especially not when they're all made up to look perfect. But just because I don't fit into society's idea of beauty.... does that make me ugly? Or does true beauty allow for natural differences and individual uniqueness?