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> The Other Bush: The Politics of Beauty Maintenance.
octobersky
post Feb 19 2007, 09:09 PM
Post #1


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From: Cultural Backwater


Bump, bumping, bumped!

The other night I got sucked into watching some show on women who were addicted to plastic surgery - it was like watching a train wreck. This one woman had put her entire family so far into debt to finance her plastic surgery addiction. The family was having to sell their gorgeous house in order to finance her next $55, 000 surgery. What I couldn't believe was that her husband went along with her crap. Drive your family into debt because of some imagined beauty flaw? What kind of person does this?

To echo greenbean, there is a balance that you have to strike in life between spending every waking moment grooming yourself to taking care of basic hygiene. I have known women that wouldn't dare walk out of the house without full hair and makeup to run a 5 minute errand and I've known others that look like bagladies on a daily basis. I've tried to strike a healthy balance between the two, but I tend towards the more low maintenence end.

That said I like makeup, smelly good bath products, perfume (I'm a BPAL addict) and sparkly, shiny stuff. It's fun and makes me happy, I do it because I like it, not because I fear that society will perceive me as less than the feminine ideal. When I was younger I used to really care about not being taken seriously academically, romatically or at work if I didn't look a certain way, but then I realized that regardless of how I looked people would perceive me however they wanted. I don't like being pegged as well I'm a feminist so I must look like .... or well I'm an alt chick so I have to look like this...or I'm a hippie and... you get the idea.

Okay rambling here I'll stop.
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greenbean
post Jan 31 2007, 12:50 PM
Post #2


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Here's how I feel about this manner: Theres a difference between making looking good your life mission, (even if it causes suffering to yourself, such as having an eating disorder) and everyday taking care of yourself, like brushing your teeth and shaving your legs.

Like Nickclick, I only wear heels to special occasions. I think I only have twice this year, one was a wedding and one was a friend's art opening. Neither time did I feel unfeminist, I was simply dressing up because I enjoy the tradition of looking your best at special gatherings,..and its not just women, I personally think men look tons better when they are in suits and dress shoes (and black socks! Gah, I love men in black socks!) seriously, I can't stand how some guys dress. Guys that leave the house in flip-flops and calf-length pants really bother me.

To use your phrase Maddy, I have reconciled living with certain beauty standards society has given and still believe in feminism. I suppose because I like sex, shit, I love sex, and understand that since there are certain standards I expect for men, its only natural for me to enjoy simple upkeep of myself. And I mean SIMPLE. Shaving is easy, doing my hair and makeup takes 20 minutes tops, and if I feel like it I can slack off some days if I so choose. I don't go overboard, especially with spending. I could give two shits about designer clothes or the fact that I'm flat-chested. Any girl with my chest who spends loads on implants, I do feel sorry for, cuz I don't think they need it. (different sitch for transpeople tho, totally different)
Anyhow, my personal maintaince doesn't change how I feel about the REAL issues of feminism.

I guess the feminist thing comes in when we are concerned over how far some women take it, and yes, I do think some people take beauty too far. Starving yourself to be a model is not feminist. Pseudo-celebs that have nothing to do all day but shop and pose for paparazzi are not feminist. People that prey on barely legal girls for free tit flashes are not feminist.

There are some high-powered women who embrace the beauty standard and profit off of it (like the fashion industry, or hey, maybe a female plastic surgeon) Some of those women may consider themselves feminist, since they are in business (a prodominantly man's world). That issue I go back and forth on. Can they be feminst if their business is to set a high standard for women to want to live up to? Or are they just giving us the choice ...and as smart, critical thinkers we can take it or leave it?


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I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty.--John Waters
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nickclick
post Jan 29 2007, 09:39 AM
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From: jersey


i hear ya on this dilemma, and i think it's a dilemma with most feminist personal choices... should we co-opt the majority's perspective (of beauty, in this case) and improve upon it and make it feminist? or should we totally discard and create our own standards?

for me, in this case at least, it's a balance. i like high heels, but i wear them on special occassions when i want to be dressed up, not to the mall so every schmo can think i'm trying to be sexy.
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maddy29
post Jan 29 2007, 09:16 AM
Post #4


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From: Boston, MA


hey there tesao-thanks for bumping this one-i think this is the correct thread for some of the things i've been thinking about- such as wearing heels, makeup, getting a boob job, waxing your legs, etc etc. all the little "trivial" stuff that I think does matter in some ways.

i guess i'm wondering-how much can we participate in beauty culture and still call ourselves feminists? of course we are all bombarded with messages about how we "should" look, and no one can really escape that. still, how do we balance being a feminist who doesn't want women to be judged by how closely they fit the mold that society requires of us, and just liking to paint your nails, or shaving your legs, or liking high heels, or whatever.

[i know that some people will say "well, the whole point is that we shouldn't have to worry about any of this-we should just be able to make a choice about it, and not be forced in any specific direction." so yeah, we "should" be able to just make a choice, but since we don't live in a vacuum, it's just not that easy. ]

this isn't about judging other feminists, or ourselves, or anything like that. it's not about being a "better" or "not as good" feminist. BUt, it's about how we reconcile living in this society with our feminist beliefs, at least when it comes to beauty.
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tesao
post Jan 27 2007, 09:43 PM
Post #5


olha, que coisa mais linda.....
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bump because of some recent comments in the forum about women and feminism and how feminism and beauty are not incompatible.
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ginger_kitty
post Jun 30 2006, 09:12 AM
Post #6


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Yeah I definately want stains pointed out. I don't follow trends, I've always had my own thing going on, but I stains make me feel dirty.


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-We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different.

-What we think, we become.
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amazing_bass
post Jun 29 2006, 09:52 PM
Post #7







Any time I have a stain or something that makes me look like a slob, I appreciate having it pointed out so that I can fix it before I embarass myself. Beyond that, I don't care much about fashion, so I'll pretty much take any trustworthy woman's word on what looks good on a man.
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venetia
post Jun 16 2006, 09:38 PM
Post #8


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From: Aotearoa (aka New Zealand)


I like it when my bf points out that I somehow got spaghetti on the underside of my breasts, I must admit.
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ginger_kitty
post Jun 16 2006, 07:59 PM
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I agree, but I never force anything. Sometimes the Mr. just doesn't care if there is a tear in shirt or a stain on his pants. And personally I'm mortified by stains, but if he doesn't care, oh well I don't push the issue.


--------------------
-We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different.

-What we think, we become.
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damona
post Jun 15 2006, 02:13 PM
Post #10


can i go to bed now?
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dusty, while i agree with you about not "dressing" guys, they do sometimes require a nudge in the right direction. i.e.: "did you know that there's a mustard stain on the front of that shirt?" especially if one is going to a "nice" place or family gathering. if my husband goes with us to a dinner or something with my family, i always give him a once over and ask him to do the same for me!


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"give me life, give me pain, give me myself again" - tori amos
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dusty
post May 24 2006, 01:41 PM
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I've always thought that it was not in my best interests to convince a grown man that he is incapable of dressing himself.
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greenbean
post May 23 2006, 01:13 PM
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speedy, I'm part Latina and I know what you mean. I think a lot of it is trying not to live up to a stereotype of being poor and nappy/dirty/tacky.
My mom (mexican-american) was always into white guys, and went to great lengths to look less "ethnic", which took a lot of grooming and products. I guess it was like, if you're pretty enough some white knight will pluck you from the barrio. And it worked for my mom, who is still happily married to my father (who loves her for more than her looks btw).


--------------------
I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty.--John Waters
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speedy
post May 23 2006, 10:29 AM
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Great thread! Some of the posts made me think that over the color line, the rules, if that's what they are, work a little differently. I'm generalizing broadly, of course, but: for black and Latin men (and some strata of Asian men), looking good is normal and expected. And not just looking good in terms of basic grooming and clean clothes, but having a style, being in vogue, and being conspicuously attractive. Of course it averages out to conformity in the end, but it's a masculine style that encourages, almost demands self-conscious beautification.
As a black guy, I've always marvelled at the divergent rules the men of different races live by. My white buds are baffled by (if not suspicious of) my devotion to clothes, grooming, fragrances, etc. But among other black and Latino men, I feel dowdy and undergroomed. I guess being too old and too square to wear Timberlands (I prefer Chippewas anyway!), I don't register as "dressed" at all to these guys, even in my handmade English shoes!

And of course, for black and Latin women, this idea of NOT aestheticizing oneself is damn near anathema. Any Busties of color on this thread? I'd love to get your two cents.
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gluelita
post May 22 2006, 11:57 PM
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thread. posts. yay. :-)
quick homework break to report what my friend told me today about her workout buddy:
kathy said all the girls at work got boobjobs and she is tired of being flat-chested.
argh.
this is what really pisses me off (and scares me) that plastic surgery is not just what some people need to feel better about themselves...it is that as there are more of those people than there are of the "fuck it" crowd like myself we become this freakish exception. that people are doing it not because they want to but because they feel they need it for a job or not to stand out.
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greenbean
post May 22 2006, 09:06 PM
Post #15


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Well, I ain't shoppin for no stupid boobies, I'll tell ya that much!


--------------------
I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty.--John Waters
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nohope
post May 22 2006, 08:34 PM
Post #16


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Greenbean, I think I know what you're saying about a suburban aesthetic... but I think it may be the other way around. I think people in bigger cities can be more conscious about how they look, innovative with style etc, because they're subject to a broader range of influences, from different ethnicities and cultures... or simply have access to more stores.

I agree. It’s just condescending B.S. Urban, Rural, Suburban, most people express their individuality in exactly the same way… they shop for it.

Even those crafty people, shop for their crafts…. Having an original idea, or even attempting to be virtually nonexistent, in a world in which everything is a sarcastic nod to everything else.

It’s all so totally boring…..

As bukowski described most writers, and I think it applies to most of modern life ….”they’re all swimming in there own shit.”

i.e. how can one do anything worth wile while looking over your shoulder at what everyone else is doing. All we end up as is characters of each other. All so witty, grown up and sophisticated, that we should all be shot just to save the world from having to endure so much self obsessed sarcasm.

But again… maybe I am just talking about me….. You’ll never know and that’s how I like it.
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venetia
post May 22 2006, 07:16 PM
Post #17


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Sybarite I agree with you. I made a conscious choice not to do that "helping" thing - the only time I have ever given fashion advice to a man was when my colourblind flatmate begged me to help him sort out colours. I take being asked because I'm female as a bit of a red flag actually.

Occasionally I've had to live with the consequences (most memorable being the time M decided to wear dingy old tracksuit pants to the Opera!) but it's worth it just to maintain our dignity as individuals. M is the first person I've dated ever who has not thought he needed an input into whether I should wear makeup, etc and I really appreciate it.

Greenbean, no I do get what you are saying - I'm just saying that personally I don't care. Probably 98% of current fashions look stupid to me but I really don't mind that people are wearing them. To me it's so much their business that I try not to even think about it when I look at them. But my mother, it's like she wants to go and boil her eyes sometimes!

I've never been in a Nth American suburb though.

Mornington I think I was talking about something slightly different to this "sexy son" because the demonstration of it I saw in a documentary involved a man sniffing a series of women's dirty t-shirts and rating them!

Looking for the actual research I found these articles which are interesting.

Two thirds of the way down the page, I found a ref to the resarch I meant: "Researchers at the University of Berne tested the MHC genes of a number of female students and arranged them into types. They then asked a group of male students, whose MHC genes were also typed to wear cotton T-shirts so that their body odour permeated the fabric. The T-shirts were taken to a laboratory,where they were sniffed consistently preferred the smell of T-shirts that had been worn by men with dissimilar MHC genes to their Pheromones - subtle odours emitted by each of us - may well influence our choice of partner. The results suggest we can literally sniff out a suitable mate."
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bklynhermit
post May 22 2006, 06:25 PM
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i don't know, i feel like the level of influences in the suburbs is more of a choice than we're willing to admit.

i guess, though, that it depends on what we're really talking about -- people in Westchester have the time and money to do whatever they want with themselves. They're less than an hour from a major metropolis and a lot of the people who live there have plenty of access to different influences, diversity, multiculturalism, etc. in fact, in comparison to, say, Iowa, Westchester is pretty ethnically diverse.

but, yet, go to Westchester and it's still SUV Ann Taylor botox crap. And you'll find the same thing in Oak Park, IL, Orange County, CA, Arlington, TX, etc. etc. etc.

in fact, thinking about the town where i grew up, i notice that things are getting more cookie-cutter as the community becomes more affluent. girls' moms used to sew their prom dresses, now they order online from the designers in the prom issue of Seventeen. the big thing to do when i was in high school was to get a tan fishing offshore on the weekends -- now it's tanning beds.
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greenbean
post May 22 2006, 12:26 PM
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ooops, sorry to be a thread hog but I posted before seeing sybarite's post...
I do agree with you, there are less influences/options in the suburbs, and snob that I am, thats why I dont like it there. Actually what I dislike most about the suburbs is the cookiecutter/big boxness too it. I guess I am a slave to aesthetics, because neighborhoods with craftsmen bungalows or victorians make me melt!


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I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty.--John Waters
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greenbean
post May 22 2006, 12:01 PM
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Thanks mornington! I'm glad you get what I'm saying cuz this topic is complicated and its hard to express my opinion clearly. (p.s...I just added you on myspace, i'm carla)

I just wanna add that I love women and i hope I'm not dogging on them too much,..I just wish we all werent so hung up on being "normal". My mom had a hard time with me always trying to be different but I think she is finally easing up...my dad on the other hand always boasted about my "individualism".


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I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty.--John Waters
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