Please start with the original article: Katie Meade
This was shared by Unite Women, and the comments that followed were what you’d expect: “isn’t this great?” and “she really deserves this” and so on. There were a couple of comments about objectifying her and this one really hit the mark: “While I appreciate the sentiment…and “get” what they are doing and support them. I’d prefer to see a world where we were not all day long, making the comments to girls and women, and the pretty and the not pretty about their looks!!t We’re in a constant state of trying to make girls and women feel pretty. FOR WHAT PURPOSE, for crying out loud?? To feel good about ourselves for OUR LOOK?? Think about that! Sigh. We just keep feeding into lookism day in day out all day for everyone, pretty by standard beauty or not. I envision a world where we stop focusing on looks AT ALL. Dear God let it be so! lol Can you even imagine if a man where to hear all day long “your hair looks good, your suit looks good, you look good today, your skin looks great, your legs are great, your nails look great.” It’s just ABSURD.”
I completely agree with the author. BUT…there is a primitive biological reason for making these distinctions: good looks often means good health, aka, good breeding choice to perpetuate the species. Women also have this imperative, but i think that theirs is based more on a combination of things. Men go for those good health indicators and for the other signs of good motherhood, while women check out the male’s appearance for his health status, they give greater weight to his ability to provide the resources for having children. Pregnancy is the beginning of a major commitment, the time and effort spent caring for an infant, a baby, a toddler, a child, etc until the young one is capable of taking care of itself. A female wants her male partner to also commit to an extended period of time, with his resources and abilities to ensure that the offspring have the best possible chance to reach adulthood.
Now step forward from the dark recesses of history to our modern world. In the simplest breakdown, our current dating and mating still occurs in pretty much the same way. It’s still about being healthy enough to breed healthy children, ergo, some level of beauty; and having a mate who can provide the food and shelter required to bring the children to maturation. We’ve thrown in the societal change of women earning their own income, which increases her choice about having a child. If she has sufficient resources, she can have a child without having a male around to provide what she already can.
Studies have shown that males are still biased in favor of women with ample hips, a sign of whether a child (and she) could make it through childbirth. Our society, on the other hand, has decided that the female beauty is not the original archetype. This requires grown women to have purposefully reduce or remove the primitive signs of heavy thighs and extra weight (in case of a famine), and so on. I would say that from a scientific viewpoint, these women literally become trophies. This works in both directions, with the young, socially designated beautiful women gaining status by being with males who hold greater resources–either physical resources like money, or the more intangible, like his fame. But for the purpose of our discussion, I will keep it simple and we discuss the females. Just remember, anything that pertains to the women can also pertain to men, albeit in different ways.
One of the requirements for today’s beautiful woman is disturbing in its implications: removal of genital/groin hair. Having genital hair is a sign of maturity, a visible signal of being ready to mate. When added to the other requirements like being impossibly thin, this only makes me think of prepubescent females. Girl children, not mature enough to procreate, being placed into the status of most desirable mate. Anyone besides me think there’s something wrong with this?
The women who work to achieve this concept of female beauty soon discover that starving your body to be “fashionably” anorexic uses up fat supplies (needed to survive, thank you) such as…your breasts. How many of those girl-child “beauties” have natural, un-enhanced breasts? Far too many of them obviously have implants, which are almost grotesque in their perfect roundness. And don’t even talk to me about the fat lips thing. It seems to me that while their bodies are made to look too immature to mate, they have resorted to turning their facial lips into surrogate labia, showing obviously red and swollen lips to the world. Guess what? One of the obvious signs of female arousal is an engorgement of the labia as well as a change in color. What a bunch of mixed signals: a child’s body, thin beyond the norm, with large, thrusting imitations breasts and visible labia arousal (ready to mate) as symbolized by their medically modified lips. Which signal should you believe? Don’t get me wrong, sexual intercourse does happen (of course, it’s another trophy milestone checked off)…but I’m not seeing that much of an increase in the population as a result of this status posturing. So it isn’t sexual intercourse for procreation. Just recreation.
We have created this concept of “beauty” and we cater to it without thought. However, when it comes time to procreate, I think other choices would be made. I can’t cite you specific studies, but consider this: when you see famous people (whatever their reason for fame), the males have this accepted form of beauty on their arms. But when you look at long term relationships, and especially relationships with children involved, we revert to the old ideas as far as our modern society will tolerate. Actors who marry/procreate with other actors may make “beautiful” children, but they don’t tend to stay married. Obviously there’s a lot of other things going on within that relationship like the type of ego it requires to be an actor, times two; the parity of fame and the societal requirement for the female to closely mimic the accepted norms of what is beautiful. (Which having children successfully can make it very difficult to do.)
I can offer you several suggestions to show that most of this kind of bonding is done for display to the society; it’s a male with the “ideal” beauty on his arm, showing how great HIS resources are that he owns this beautiful trophy; it’s the female with a proven “Alpha” type male, which increases her status. Donald Trump is a great example of that…he has married a series of women who look oddly alike…but as one ages and is no longer the “perfect” look, he replaces her with another who looks like her, only younger. To the point of being willing to “date” his daughter…who exemplifies this ideal. We are back to the primitive brain, where the male who has sufficient resources can mate with anyone HE chooses, rather than the female choosing him for his ability to hunt and forage and make arrows.
On the flip side, we can see that long term partnering is not based so strongly on that societal view of females. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married for over 50 years, even while both of them were actors. Mrs. Newman would fail the current requirements for “beauty” in our society. She was beautiful, make no mistake. But she was not otherworldly in that beauty, she looked like a “real” woman. She didn’t require surgery, shots and a workout schedule that precluded holding a job to be beautiful. In other words, she lived her life without trying to meet nearly impossible demands to look like what society thought she should.
Let’s face it: there are far more “normal” people than those who can make a living off of just their looks. So within the mainstream of society we may be shielded from the horror of a beauty regimen that requires your soul. Of course this constant barrage of “this is beautiful” from adverts and TV shows and movies…affects us and our children. Which makes it the responsibility of their parents to discuss how utterly useless, even dangerous, trying to live up to this stream of impossible that it is–for daughters AND sons. We need to educate both genders (all genders) of children to understand that beauty, as the saying goes, “is in the eye of the beholder”, and as such is a personal choice. It should not be a choice made based on someone else’s ideas. (And you can seek ways to lessen this impact on your own life.)
Which brings us back around to where we started, with a beautiful young lady who just happens to have Down Syndrome. The genetic signs of her disease have created a face that is…well, alien. It’s not a “normal” look, even among the masses. It is different. Which is, in the long run, the simple thing we, as a society, need to learn. There is no “ONE” look, a single measure to determine beauty. Don’t let Madison Avenue fool you, with its army of 6 feet tall “heroin chic” walking toothpicks. These are examples of a body type that is not normal in any sense of the word, which causes a reaction from us by being different. Take off their makeup, remove those designer clothes, comb their hair and don’t “style” it…and they look a lot more like the average woman in the street.
This directly leads to the need of understanding that the average woman in the street has beauty, in at least one of its myriad forms. Even someone not blessed with full body beauty may have exquisite shoulders, or graceful hands, or just a presence that makes you take notice of her. There is nothing wrong in acknowledging any beauty. The sin, the terrible wrongdoing, is in objectifying “beauty”, insisting on certain specific hallmarks in order to be considered beautiful at all–and thereby having any worth as a human being. Worse yet is that these requirements are all physical, so there’s no “worth” assigned to a great sense of humor, intelligence, compassion, or any other other possibilities for beauty without a thigh gap.
We are also responsible for learning, and teaching our children, that beauty has as many definitions as love, different for each person and yet somehow still understandable to someone else. Physical beauty can be an actual handicap, with the “beautiful” person not having to develop intelligence or personality or the myriad of other kinds of interaction because all they have to do is “be beautiful”. Physical beauty is lost in the passing of years. Some retain it, some actually become more beautiful the older they get–but usually, someone who has their physical beauty be all that they needed…lose that after 10, 20 or 30 years. And if they didn’t think they needed anything else to get by in the world, they are sorely disappointed as they age. Skin wrinkles, age spots appear, the body moves slower, weight may attach itself to you. In that same amount of time, you should learn to be more loving, more accepting of others; you should be getting wiser and able to see things from the broader viewpoint only time can give you. My grandmother was beautiful, but not especially so. She was never a model, although she did win a local beauty contest once… I was born the year she turned 45 years old. I always loved her, of course…but it took until junior or senior high school for me to understand why everyone thought she was beautiful. It wasn’t about her physical appearance, although she was still very attractive. No, what made her so beautiful was her kind and loving heart, her willingness to listen, her immediate offers of help to those in need. These things never leave the one who has them.
As a society, as human beings, we need to learn how to recognize and appreciate the beauty of every person, female and male, without regards as to how they measure up to an artificially created paradigm of beauty specifically designed to sell things to you. We need to look for things beyond the physical, the things that will last beyond the physical, look for the beauty in others that makes us feel good, causes us to say, “(They) are beautiful.” We need to learn and hold onto the idea that Ray Stevens sang about: “everything is beautiful, in its own way”. And that means everybody, as well!
I thank you, beautiful people, for letting me share my thoughts with you. And here’s a photo of one of my “happy” (and beautiful) places: