Thursday, June 18, 2009
Rant: The "Ideal" Woman
This is from June 11th.
My mother told me today about a friend of my father's who was hanging out at the beach with them this past weekend who said of his wife (who I am sure was not present) "Oh, she's getting worn out. I've gotta trade her in for a new model." This couple is in their early forties. The wife is a youthful and active mother of a five year old boy and a three year old girl, both adorable.
What kind of culture is this where a comment like this, joking or whatever, goes unchastised? I tell you, if I had been there I would've had something to say. Like "Oh, and you're exactly the same guy she met in college? No extra pounds, no recession of the hairline? I guess this is the kind of appreciation women get for sacrificing their bodies to produce children with assholes like yourself."
Because honestly, how can a few hours of "bliss" with a perfect plastic body compare to the intimate complex history of relationship? What depth would you sacrifice for a fleeting moment of attractiveness that adheres to some prescribed notion of beauty that has nothing to do with the reality of the natural female body? And I mean "natural" as in "found in nature."
Think about the "ideal" American female appearance as presented in all types of media: bleach blond hair (how many women have hair that light in adulthood?); tan, hairless skin--and I mean hairless--women are supposed to think they shouldn't even have ARM HAIR anymore; miles of legs, small waist, high round butt, and large breasts that MUST be perky. How many women look like that as God made them?
And I'm not saying anything whiny like "This standard is unfair and impossible to live up to." I'm saying this standard is ridiculous and women SHOULDN'T want to live up to it. Why should anyone buy someone else's imagining of a "beautiful" body when every woman should be celebrating her own body, and all the things that make it unique, which is truly beautiful?
I was watching TV today and there was a young woman in her 20s debating whether or not she should get breast implants. She was an attractive girl with dark hair and a body that seemed to be in very good shape. Her breasts were probably on the smaller side of average, like an A. But her friends, who she worked with at Hooters, told her that buying breasts would make her feel feminine and confident, not to mention making her clothes fit better and her tips grow before her eyes-- almost as fast her cup size!
I think breast implants are totally unnecessary outside of a cancer patient wanting to replace a breast after a mastectomy. Wanting to feel like yourself is different than trying to become someone else. But the ridiculousness of breast implants is not my point here. The problem is thinking you can BUY something that will give you confidence. Placing the responsibility for your self worth on superficial things is nothing but a temporary patch-up. The novelty will wear off, you'll age, whatever is popular will change, whatever--then you are once again without self-confidence.
Rather than buying something that makes our outsides different, why not try evaluating the insides and figuring out why we feel the way we do about ourselves? You know why? Because buying something, even something that costs thousands of dollars, not to mention the obvious physical costs and hidden emotional costs, is easier than delving into our souls. We don't even know ourselves anymore. We just follow along, accept what is given to us, and don't question the norm or ask for more.
I mean, my mother was irritated by what that man said about his wife. But she didn't feel comfortable calling him out for his idiocy. We are polite about the wrong things. Sad. And all we do is run from real emotions into the easy ideals of a society that, even if it is artificial, backwards, and wrong, has clear expectations and a precise mold that you can chip yourself apart to fit into. Until they come out with a newer model.