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miss_jane
As I read through some of the threads about various aspects of beauty (cosmetic surgery, shaving, makeup etc) I noticed that the majority of them were distinctly not about the politics but about hints ands tips. I thought it would be useful and nice for busties to have a place to discuss the politics behind the "beauty myth" and hopefully clear some of our thoughts on it.

The type of topics that have been playing on my mind:

*Cosmetic Surgery
*The Removal of Body Hair
*Diets
*Makeup
*The Media's Attitude

Just to make everything clear I don't want this to become a place to attack busties who chose different ways of expressing their beauty.

So what are your thoughts? Can stereotypical beauty maintenance sit comfortably with feminist politics? Feminism is about a lot about choice for the individual, but is any choice (specifically about beauty) that a woman makes necessarily feminist? How difficult is it to stand up and fight the beauty myth?

As a side note : The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf is the book that stemmed these thoughts in me and a few years own I still haven't cleared in my mind the way I feel about things.
sybarite
My first time looking at the politics of, say, wearing lipstick as a feminist was when I was an undergrad looking for waitressing jobs. I was studying feminist theory at the time so questioned my tendency to get done up (lipstick, flattering clothes) before enquiring for jobs. I knew the way I looked would impact on whether or not I got the job. In the end, I decided that I needed the job so would use an advantage if it worked.

More recently I made a conscious decision to lose weight. Everyone I knew had commented (nicely) that I had gained weight. There was no good reason to lose it; I was happy otherwise and the bf had no problem with it (as well he shouldn't). Yet being a little thinner and therefore able to wear some clothes that woulnd't have suited me before makes me happy. I also like being generally fitter and healthier, but vanity is definitely there too.

I don't wear makeup (except for lipstick, and mascara on weekends) because basically I'm too lazy, never got the hang of it and I hate the way foundation feels on my face. But I get occasional pedicures and get bikini waxes regularly--more for the pool or beach than for the mister, who thinks waxing is barbaric.

I don't believe in cosmetic surgery, for me anyway. The idea of paying someone to deliberately cut into me with a scalpel is inherently wrong IMO.

I do think that the societal construction/perception of woman is tightly bound up with what she looks like. I have friends and family in different competitive industries who have all said being thinner/more groomed/wearing good clothes directly influences how seriously they are taken. I think this is wrong but it still applies in way too many situations. I would ideally like to be challenging these stereotypes/tendencies on a daily basis (in conversation for example) but I also still feel how I look (at conferences, for example)has some impact on how seriously I'm taken... and I work in academia.

That's my 2 cents.
mornington
Hmm... not sure how much I can contribute, but here goes. First off, I'm down with plastic surgery for medical reasons. I'm talking burn victims, boob reductions and so on; it's cosmetic surgery that I'm not so sure about. Maybe I'm just freaked out by it. But I do think that cosmetic surgery is very much tied into society's perception of "beauty" - and pressure to look a certain way. I'm scared by the number of young (as in teenage) girls who seem to want plastic surgery to alter some percieved fault in thier not-fully-developed bodies.

There is definitely a pressure from society - and more than anything the media - for women to look a certain way. The one that scares me is the perception of "fat" - that you have to be below this weight, fit into this size dress, etc - in order not be "fat". I think that although the initial pressure is put in place by men, it is women who maintain that pressure upon other women - after all, it's women who write the glossies that women read, and it's the women who're more likely to tear into someone for what they're wearing (IME).

As for what syb wrote about getting "done up" while jobhunting - I think no matter what the politics of beauty are, unless they're blind, something of your appearance is being judged by other people.

Personally, I wear make-up almost every day. I started in school, because everyone was doing it and fitting in was easier. I don't wear foundation because it irritates my skin, and I really only wear eyeshadow/liner and mascara. I don't pay attention to the magazines; I wear it how I like. Make-up has become a part of who I am, and to some degree, it's a mask. I do shave my legs, and immac my bikini line when I can be bothered. I don't wax - I have sensitive skin & I'm a big wuss. I tidied my bikini line much more when I was in my last relationship - although he did tell me I didn't have to - so possibly I am trying to fit into that "ideal woman" mould.

That said, I'm all about the choice. I express myself through "beauty" and clothes, but I do think it's my choice. I'd love to see a lot less media attention paid to how the celebrities/personalities look, and more to what they do. I think so much of how people look determines how they're taken, and that peeves me.

A personal aside: I'm a vet student. I find if I dress "feminine" (skirt, heels, make-up, whatever) I'm not taken seriously as a vet student. If I wear jeans, doc m boots and a fleece, and no make-up, I'm not taken seriously as anything other than a vet - I'm percieved as asexual, work-obsessed, and boring. Don't know where that's going - but just a thought.
curioushair
Ideally, it should be about choice: it's a woman's choice to have plastic surgery, shave, whatever, but it's naive to think that living up to the stereotype of a C-cup, glossy-lashed girl with the unlined face of an 18-year-old is all about choice. Every plastic surgery patient who's ever been interviewed says, "I'm doing it for me." No, you're not.

That being said, I'm not opposed to plastic surgery for genuine medical reasons (like mornington). I don't think anyone would accuse someone with a harelip of vanity. Makeup, eh..yeah, I wear makeup because I look like a corpse without it. As I've gotten older, I've become less concerened with fitting in, though, and more comfortable without it. Same with shaving. And yeah, I think it's okay to look "polished" at a job interview. I think it's less about feminine sterotypes than hygiene. A certain amount of primping is expected of women, and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

lucizoe
I agree, curioushair. How much can it be one's own completely personal choice when as women we are particularly susceptible to the pressures of the culture at large (since women seem to get the brunt of it; I know men are affected too)? I always find that to be disgenuine, when someone says "I did it to feel good about me." Well, yes, you did do it to feel good about you, but you're feeling good about you within the strict parameters of beauty set by someone else, and how is that empowering?

I don't want to be seen as tearing down anyone who has undergone cosmetic surgery, but I really have a hard time believing that having bits of your natural body cut into and foreign matter inserted into you, to fit an ideal that maybe 5% of people can actually achieve, is somehow empowering.

I do feel less feminine sometimes for not knowing anything about make-up. I work in theatre, in costuming, and often make-up/hair duty goes right along with costume design. I'm always lost at those moments, but fortunately there is never a shortage of people (mostly women) who know the basics and can cover for me.

Two years ago I was working with a children's summer theatre program, not in any position of authority. Prior to curtain, there was the usual flurry of activity backstage and I was asked to help with make-up. I told the woman who asked me that I had no idea how to apply it and she, being stressed, snapped at me. She didn't even address the fact that as a costume assistant I needed to learn, it was all about how I was a girl and how could a girl not know how to apply make-up?

Of course, she was also pregnant with her 8th kid and she and her fundie hubby were busy with instilling strict gender roles and divisions in their brood, so I guess she took it personally.

Sorry to go OT there for a second. I like this thread!
smurfin
I don't wear make-up. I have never been on a diet (well, once, when I was 12, I went on a diet. It lasted two days). I only shave if I'm wearing something short, and I only shave what shows. I do not wax. Ever. I do not always feel happy in my body, but I am loath to change its appearance: I wánt to be confident of myself, but I not always ám. I try though. And usually I succeed.

However, if someone has the money and wants to have plastic surgery done (by a qualified surgeon), I say: go ahead. If you think it will make you happier, and you have realistic expectations: seriously, go ahead.

I don't want to make distinctions. Where I live plastic surgery can sometimes be paid for by your insurance if there is a 'medical indication'. So, people will have their eyes lifted because it apparently gave them headaches. Well, I doubt those medical indications. I think a person who is truly unhappy with her A cup may well benefit from an operation just as much if not more than a person who has the top of her pinky reattached after an accident. Both examples of plastic surgery, one 'medically indicated', one not.

I do think people who want to have elective surgery should maybe speak to a psychologist. Not because they're mad, but because they need to have reasonable expectations. If you're counting on a boob job to fix your relationship with your husband, you need to realise that's not a reasonable expectation. Problems of the interpersonal variety aren't going to go away along with the fat you're getting liposucted. Yes, it may make you feel better about yourself. It may also make you feel worse.

Anyway, what do you think?
ambercherry
i like this thread, too. and the talk about applying for jobs certainly comes at a good time, as i am going out this afternoon to resume drop at a bunch of shops.

i don't wear much make-up, either - if i do, it's just eyeliner, and it's more just to make my eyes show up a little more. but by the end of the day, it usually fades off anyway. sometimes i'll wear lipstick, but it's of the minimal colour kind, and on special occasions i'll wear mascara. this past halloween i dressed up in a gown, a wig, and put a lot of make-up on - or, as it turns out, i thought i had put a lot on(it felt like i did!). my partner looked at me and told me it didn't look like i had put much on. (he's not big into the make-up thing - or for that matter the shaving/waxing thing, either).

as for the job hunting/interviewing thing, i feel compelled to wear makeup even to drop off these resumes, which is crappy, because i don't like feeling as though i have to wear it. and even crappier is that fact that i'm self-conscious of the fact that my head is shaved (nice little brush cut). i love my hair - but i'm worried that maybe it needs to be more "girlie" for the stores to which i'll be applying. of course, if that's the case, i don't want to work in a place with those standards. gah.

regarding the plastic surgery debate - i agree with you, smurfin, about some underlying issues not getting fixed with plastic surgery. but i think in the case of medical reasons, if a person feels strongly about having the surgery, then they should go for it.

years ago, my mom had a breast removed due to breast cancer. she never had surgery to replace it, she now just has one boob, but she does usually wear a prothsesis (sp?). sometimes she doesn't, though, and i highly admire her on those days (although it's really not *that* noticeable when she doesn't - but still). she's a helluva woman. and i by no means mean to come down on women who choose to replace breasts lost through cancer, or anyone who chooses to have surgery for medical reasons.
mornington
Smufin - I think you've hit on what I was trying to express re: plastic surgery. I don't like the idea that the people who have plastic surgery think thier lives are going to be improved by implants/eye lifts/botox. Ultimately, if it is going to make you happier, go for it. I'd probably put psychological reasons under medical. I had a friend in school who had a nose job - purely cosmetic - but she'd hated her nose since she was a kid; the nose was straightened, and she was far happier. Fair play to her.

The feminine/unfeminine thing with make-up annoys me. Nivea have brought out a tinted moisturiser for men, which is as far as I'm concerned, foundation by any other name. I can remember having a conversation with my (male) english teacher about mascara choices - he preferred black, I like brown. Men have worn make-up before, it doesn't make them less masculine to wear eyeliner/mascara, so why should it make women less feminine to not wear it? (that's terribly expressed)
sybarite
Sorry, I should have said re. primping before jobhunting... I meant to differentiate between looking cute to get a job and looking professional. When I was dropping into restaurants with my CV I made an effort to look cute (as well as clean). At conferences I want to look professional so that people take my work seriously. However, people I know working in TV, newspapers and architecture are under pressure to look cute, pretty, thin. This pressure can be explicit and this is for jobs that aren't front of camera. They are being strongly persuaded to conform to an ideal and, as I understand it, they are rewarded for doing so.

Looking professional, dressing formally in respect of a meeting etc, is fair enough; men have to do it too. Being pressured to essentially be good looking (naturally or otherwise) in order to succeed at work is entirely different, and unfair.
gluelita
i don't have anything to add except that more than a few times lately i have found myself in a room where i was the only one who had not had plastic surgery. or the only one in a room who had not had it and did not want it. wtf! that's creepy.

what interests me also is the economic implications. beauty maintenance is not free and these surgeries, diets, etc can be very expensive. even women who make less money are supposed to maintain a high-class (high-cost) regimine. for working class women, think of the percentage of disposable income expected to go to this upkeep just for the purpose of having or finding a job. that, to me, is really troublesome. when you consider that we only have so much income and that, in a very real sense, we are asked to choose between our looks and our retirements, downpayments, oppressive debt, children's education, it seems very WRONG to me to expect so much of our limited resources to go to these ends. the cycle of insecurity-consumption-profit for the beautyand diet industry-investment in creating more insecurity pisses me off.

not that i'm not stuck in it too. i try to limit it, but like the rest of you, at the end of the day i need a job.
chani
I have a recurrent pattern of thought about being too lazy to put on makeup.
First I start to feel like I'm letting down society by not making an effort to look nice. My instinctive next thought is that I make up for my lack of face paint by the work that I do with my brain.
Then I tell myself that no one expects men to wear makeup so that they'll look nicer so this whole thing is just another ploy to make women spend their diposible income.
I admit that when I go to a fancy function wearing makeup I look and feel good, but in everyday life I just can't justify running to the bathroom every 2 hours to fix my lipstick. Maybe if I worked at an office job it would be a nice diversion, but as a physician it's going to compromise patient care!
ambercherry
chani, i totally agree, and those are some of the biggest reasons that i don't wear make-up. my face gets oily throughout the day, and the last thing i want to worry about is whether my mascara is rubbing off, my eye shadow is clumping around the crease of my eyelid or if my lipstick needs retouching. of course, some woman can pull off wearing make-up through the day with no problem. i can't.

and overall i think women look better without make-up. i love the show what not to wear - but i hate when they pile on the make-up at the end.
kissmypineapple
My cousin, who I grew up wanting to be and look just like, recently got a boob job. She is seriously one of the most gorgeous people I've ever met, but she still wasn't happy. I asked her why she got it done, and she said she made a promise to herself when she was 12 or something that if she didn't grow up to be a C cup, then she'd fix it. She's a full D now. Now, I'm not trying to knock my cousin, and she's obviously very happy with her breasts now...but my issue with plastic surgery extends even to cases where "someone is truly unhappy" with their A-cup. Shouldn't we be examining the reasons why that is, instead of just giving low-self esteem about a body part a pass? And I don't mean we should come down on the people who choose surgery, but more that there's obviously something really sick in our culture that so many people feel that it's the answer to something "lacking" in them.

Anywho, back to makeup...I had a lot more fun at the end of high school and the beginning of college playing with color. I'm in love with red lipstick. It's such a powerful color, and when I've got my red lipstick on, I feel like the sassiest, smartest, most un-take-downable woman in the room. It's like I'm punctuating everything I say with a fir-engine red exclaimation point. So, yeah, I like makeup sometimes. But I don't like the idea that it's supposed to be corrective. If you like makeup, and it's a fun thing, then I say, woohoo. But if it's a chore, and you feel like you have to touch it up every 2 hours, then it's definitely not a feminist choice for you.

My $.02.
sybarite
Gluelita, the economic implications get really alarming when women with little disposable income decide to get a procedure done anyway. Where I live this often means going to Eastern Europe and getting something done in an unregulated clinic. Botched cosmetic surgery is just so dangerous and the effects can be permanent.

Btw, where were you that everyone had had cosmetic surgery but you?? That's gotta be freaky.
miss_jane
I go away for a day and look what happens! Just to let you know I didn't just start the thread and run - Its just I have so much to say I need time where I have nothing else to do so I can really sit down and think about this!
bklynhermit
apropos of nothing, but reading the thread brought it to mind:

several times, when in casual conversation with friends about cosmetic surgery, would you get it, what would you have done, etc. i have said, "I would totally love to get a nose job. But I want mine bigger. I want Sofia Coppola's nose. Or the real version of what Nicole Kidman had in The Hours. When I get rich, man, I am so doing that..."

mostly in jest, though I do think big noses are sexy and if it were up to me that's what i'd have.

but it HORRIFIED everyone in the conversation. they all dropped everything to assure me that I have a lovely nose, how could I even think of such a thing, etc.

nobody did that when the girl next to me said she wanted lipo, or the girl next to her said she wanted bigger breasts. but, you know, the girl next to me was kinda chubby. and the other girl, well, a bit flat chested. but i have what would be considered a conventionally pretty and sufficiently WASP-ish nose. and 'nobody' wants a bigger nose!

this kind of prooves that it's not about 'personal choice' and 'being happier' at all, is it?
gluelita
you so rock, bklyn.
smurfin
bklyn: I'm not sure your conclusion is correct. All it shows, is that people enjoy being what is considered the norm, and that they expect other people to want to conform to that norm, too.

And even though I agree that that's not necessarily a good thing, the fact remains that many people who have surgery *do* feel better about that part of their anatomy afterwards. Of course, nothing stops them from finding fault with a different part after, but still.

Just because the reasons someone feels a part of her body is inadequate are fishy doesn't mean that changing that body part is not going to make her more happy with herself.
Example: I am not overweight (at all). Yet I feel happier when I've lost a bit of weight. I realise the standards I'm trying to conform to are not my own, and are usually inattainable. The fact remains: I am happier in my body when I'm slimmer.

Conformist behaviour? Surely.
Unhealthy behaviour? That as well.
Still the truth? Absolutely.


I don't believe everyone should go and have surgery when they're feeling down. I don't think giving your girlfriend/mother/wife liposuction is going to help her feel better about herself. I don't think it's at *all* desirable that so many people are unhappy about their bodies. But the fact is: they are. And if they have the money, and they have reasonable expectations: go for it.

I understand that many people feel the choice is not that of these girls, but of their environment: that the pressure upon them from their peers or their parents or whomever to be perfect is what makes these girls want to have operations.
I suppose that is partially true. Quite possibly horribly true. And it would be wonderful if we could get these women to realise they are perfect as they are as long as *they* feel they are. But we can't. Our culture is what it is. We can try to change it, in fact we should work hard to change it, but in the meantime the option of surgery should be available for those who wish it.
bklynhermit
it's not that i don't think plastic surgery could make some people happier with their bodies.

it's that, in this particular conversation (and i've had it multiple times with various people, btw), the idea of my own personal preferences or what might make me happier has clearly not been the focus. if it was, when i said, "i've always hated my nose and wanted a bigger one" (which is true, btw), my friends would have supported me and my "choice" of a bigger nose.

but what would make me happy is contrary to the norm. so what i want is irrelevant, and they didn't support my desire at all. because really, cosmetic surgery isn't 'about' being happy or having more choice about your appearance. it's about conforming to a cultural standard.

it's the same reason you often hear people say that they don't understand why any woman would want to have a breast reduction, or NOT undergo reconstruction after a mastectomy. because large breasts are considered more desirable, and cosmetic surgery is for conforming to socially accepted desires. because women are supposed to have breasts, and not conforming to that is considered freakish. again, cosmetic surgery is implicitly seen as a tool for conformity. everyone has breasts. how dare you not want breasts? everyone wants bigger breasts. how dare you want smaller breasts? everyone wants a cute waspy nose. how dare you want a big ethnic schnozz?
smurfin
It's not that I don't agree with you on the conforming issues, because that is obviously the whole point of surgery. It's that I feel that if someone is happier conforming, well, who am I to say they shouldn't?

(And, btw, my experience is that people often understand breast reduction more than breast augmentation. But that may be a cultural thing: here in the NL surgery is much less common than in the USA. So surgery that's probably (partially) because of medical problems is easier to accept)
venetia
As someone who stubbornly refuses to correct an overbite, I find it actually quite tiring. I have to have notes put on my dental files for example. "Venetia is HAPPY with the appearance of her teeth". Even then dentists feel they have to check. And as for everyone else... It's like people can't stand the thought that you don't have a problem with something that they have a problem with.
sybarite
When I was 13, my dentist advised my mother to get braces for me in front of me, saying sotto voce 'for cosmetic reasons'. My mother asked (in a normal voice) 'Will she be able to use her mouth in a normal way? Eat, smile etc?', if I didn't get braces. The dentist concurred reluctantly that I would. My mum said thanks but no thanks.

I have been told since that I have unusual teeth 'for an American', because they are not perfectly straight. I kind of wish they were straighter, but not enough to put wire on them for years. And I like that they are idiosyncratic.

/slightly off-topic anecdote
mornington
hehe... I was the same, syb. I was twelve, and lots of people had braces/wore night-time retainers. I got asked if I wanted my teeth straightened - the rub was that I would have to wear a retainer every night for years and years (seriously...he said four years)... I have slightly wonky teeth now, and I seriously don't care.

I get asked if I'd like them straightened every time I go see a new dentist.
greenbean
bklyn, I totally agree with you. People are accepting of a person changing their look as long as it fits into society's ideal. I have very small, lopsided breasts, one is an A cup the other is barely A. I dont mind being small but the lopsidedness bothers me, so once I was thinking about augmentation. The thing is, I dont like the idea of having something foreign in my body, so I told my friends that instead of making them bigger, I would rather have the A cup reduced to match the barely A. Of course this was considered CRAZY! by my friends. In the end I decided to do neither, cuz they are just boobies anyway.
_octinoxate
Great thread.

Here's a question for you all: If you had the choice between being flawlessly beautiful (by your standards and/or society's) or truly not giving two shits, which would you prefer? Why? Also: which do you think is easier to obtain, the physical appearance or the self-acceptance?

I'd also like to comment that I too have found that other people have a big problem with my acceptance of certain so-called flaws: teeth that aren't blindingly white, grey hairs, furry legs (back in the days that I didn't wax them). I found/find it exceedingly hard to stay positive and self-accepting when it seems like everyone else is telling me I'm ugly and need to be fixed. Why do people do this? Is it to justify their own obsession with self-"improvement"? Is it because they instinctively react to difference this way after so much exposure to marketing and negative body talk? And more importantly, how do we resist this kind of subtle body-image bullying?
greenbean
I'm flawlessly beautiful and I don't give two shits! ;)
But yeah, I've always dealt with subtle image bullying from people, they always have the urge to make me over. Sometimes I let them but it never sticks. Its funny how girlfriends seem to get so upset with me for resisting the "ideal beauty" mold.

That said, I have to admit that I do prefer to be in a good-looking population by my standard, which is full of healthy, energetic, self-confident people of various identities. Like, I'm usually in metropolis areas where folks tend to exercise/eat healthy and style themselves according to their personality rather than society's standard...and honestly, I get a bit disturbed when I am in a more suburban place and everyone is well, so American looking I guess?
venetia
To answer your last question first: very grumpily. :-)

Hmm I would never pick the society's stanard beauty option, as it doesn't seem to fix anything! I should think it would make things worse if you didn't have self acceptance to go with your impossibly high standard. You'd freak out about ageing, for example.

I'm actually pretty happy with my looks, though. I can't think of anything I would change. But maybe that's only because I purposely stopped reading mainstream women's magazines 12 years ago.

ETA now that I see Greenbean - I don't get that. My best friend and my mother both have this real desire to have those around them look "aesthetically pleasing" - neither of them have conventional taste, either, so they don't get their own way much.

But to me people are like trees or something, they don't all have to be a particular species of healthy sapling for me to appreciate them.
nohope
Is it just me or would this question never be asked a guy. Also what is the purpose of the question? What answer could it offer which would shed any light upon the root question here, is a society healthier that is "beauty blind" or one which creates strict norms to which people are forced to conform through a regiment of extrinsic rewards and punishments.

I know people will say that categorizing is innate, and that beauty is an integral aspect of Darwinian evolution. But that still begs the question of whether society should be beauty blind or not. After all the society can be blind even if the individuals are not.

i.e. since we each carry with us our own genealogical baggage which we hope to over come in our mates, it is only logical that beauty conform to an individual standard which balances out our own shortcomings.

i.e. the best mate would offer positive genetics that we don’t carry, or would counter negative genetics that we do.

However if society sets the genetic norm, then we are more likely to make a mating failure, as we all compete to mate with persons which are closest to the social genetic norm, at eh expense of overlooking those mates which would best compliment our genetic makeup.


venetia
Nohope biologically speaking we "sniff out" a mate who holds a different set of immunities to us. Someone with a complimentary set will literally smell better to us. Ever wondered why, for most of the bugs/viruses/flu you and your gf catch, one of you will get it waaay worse than the other? That's why. Genetic predisposition to immunity is far more practical than visual prettiness. (I get this from Robert Winston who is usually pretty current)

So, I guess you're right if people really are doing that - selecting on what the TV tells them to. (beauty is culturally specific, and the idea that it isn't is a classist racist myth imo). But I look around and I don't see all the non conforming/ non "ideal" people childless and alone.

And, I think it is just you. That kind of question has been asked by people since the dawn of time. Geoffrey Chaucer, for example, asks it. Ovid asks it. It's prevalent in folklore.
nohope
they ask it of guys? I read guys ask the question. But do they ask it of guys?

p.s. dose that mean that if someone smells good to you, one can assume that you smell good to them? What happens when there is a conflict between good associations that are connected to say a perfume, and bad information that is maybe more covered up by said perfume?

Also just because people who are not the norm are also finding mates, can we assume that extrinsic rewards and punishments are not causing them to make less advantageous matches than they would with out them.

Example: royal lines…. Making very poor mating choices as a result of extrinsic rewards and punishments.
venetia
Boil the question down to its essential : would you rather be thought of well by society, or by yourself and of course they do. And if you're thinking about looks, well Julius Caesar was routinely teased for male pattern baldness by the Senators. Men have not historcally been immune to this stuff, even though women in our culture bear the brunt of it. And if things have changed so much why is my inbox full of penis enlargement and hair loss spam?

You might be right. But then I could say the same thing for eyeglasses - short sightedness is not being selected against. But... who does this matter to? I think human culture goes way beyond biology in so many ways.

p.s I think it's based on pheromones and ecrine sweat. I guess we could argue that sex before marriage works in favour of people getting the "right" mate because sooner or later you will smell the real person.
greenbean
Its funny the "mate" thing is brought up, because I feel more pressure from women to fit a certain mold than from men. I remember being the black sheep in a group of girls in high school, and they insisted on dressing me up for some football game. They made me wear heavy make-up, huge earrings, a preppy skirt and girly boots. When I got to the game my guy friends were all "eck! what happened? you look stupid!" It was music to my ears!

and ven, I sooo dont mean I think everyone should look the same, just the best version of themself I guess. Its hard to explain, maybe I'll try tomorrow when its not so late...
stillveryangry
well since women are the ones being pressured like hell to look a certain way and led to the assumption that all women should look that way, and as a result they can't grasp the concept of another woman not doing so. With men, they expect their girlfriends to look like eva longoria, but not their platonic girl friends who they don't tend to see naked.
venetia
Also I think women are socialised to maintain a lot of stuff men take for granted, eg it's women who statistically buy men's underwear, it's women who are expected to make sure their husband wears something appropriate to his cousin's wedding, and women are a lot more aware of what will supposedly happen to you if you don't conform.

Greenbean no I think it was me who wasn't clear, I think I got what you meant - I just mean I don't care if someone is fat, unfit or wearing a hideous outfit or the worst version of themselves. Nothing wrong with caring though!
bklynhermit
ven, that's a really good point!

seriously, out of all the single men i know, in their 20's-40's, like 5 of them buy their own underwear.

because my male roommate is currently single, i have to stand in and be his fashion arbiter, even though he has quite a different fashion sense than i do.
greenbean
Lemme see if I can explain better: I think your image is more of a state of mind than actual looks. I think you can just tell when someone is being true to themselves and when they are just trying to fit in. For instance, take plastic surgury,..a lot of the women who go overboard with the fake boobs and the fake lips seem like vapid and sad slaves to our media's ideals....BUT someone like Dolly Parton doesnt seem that way to me. I mean, she looks silly but she is proudly a cartoonish, bawdy lady who is doesnt rely on her appearance, its just packaging on a self-assured, funny, smart, talented human being. Does that make sense?

also--stillvery, one of those high school guy friends was my boyfriend, and he was the most disturbed by my new look, because he loved that I was on noncomformist.

and ven--I could handle folks looking bad, tacky even, I just think in the suburbs there is more conformity, more Walmarts and more laziness. I'm just saying if youre gonna look tacky then be balls out john waters trash! If you are cheap then shop at the thrift store and go vintage, not Walmart-evil-boring blech. If youre fat, right on! Work it! Just dont be sedentary, its bad for the heart. If youre gonna be skinny, do it right, dont starve yourself, its not cute. etc etc
mornington
as far as pressure coming from women, and women being socialised to look a certain way - I have to agree. Women - and I'm making vast sweeping generalisations here - are more "sociable" than men, and I think that the pressure to "normalise" goes hand-in-hand with that - sociablility is desirable, and if you have to normalise to be sociable, then women are going to be striving to fit in with the ideal/norm. It's also (imo) women who put this pressure on men ... an interesting thought... it's only since the victorians that men have been less flamboyant that women in terms of beauty.

But I do agree with greenbean in that image is more of a state of mind; someone who is happy with thier looks - no matter whether they're conformist or not - is more ideal than an "ideal body". (actually, can I just agree with all of greenbean's last post?)

And on an aside (lecture incoming)... arranged marriage is not, and never can be, the same thing as mate selection. Ven is right in that "smelling" the right person works on pheremones, the endocrine system and the like - mate selection runs on choosing the male with the best genes; testosterone inhibits the body's natural defenses against disease, so a healthy male with high testosterone (which is "smelt") is more attractive. It's called the sexy son effect. With people it's more complicated, but there are similar rules - with wealth & plastic surgery (& perfume!) masking the affects of testosterone. Wealth is why you get arranged marriage - the effect of wealth in creating healthier, wealthier, sexier, sons. As far as as females go, its the effects of oestrogen on the body that are attractive, but most females do the choosing - it's human society that alters this balance.
sybarite
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. There's less choice in the suburbs and less diversity (IME) so, in a way, bland reinforces bland.

Also IME it takes time and some money to eat well/healthily and dress with attention to detail.

I actually think it's a little insulting to men for women to buy their underpants regularly, or to routinely advise them how to dress. My mister's a scruff and is ideologically opposed to paying a lot of money for nice clothes. I get his family and friends telling me to 'put my foot down' about his recent beard. While I much prefer him without it (and like him in smarter clothes), the man is an adult and I wouldn't dream of telling him what he can or cannot do with his face. And ditto from him if I decide I want a Jean Seberg haircut.

Fwiw, most guys I know much prefer women with little to no makeup on, despite current trends...
greenbean
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".
greenbean
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!
bklynhermit
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.
venetia
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."
nohope
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.
greenbean
Well, I ain't shoppin for no stupid boobies, I'll tell ya that much!
gluelita
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.
speedy
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.
greenbean
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).
dusty
I've always thought that it was not in my best interests to convince a grown man that he is incapable of dressing himself.
damona
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!
ginger_kitty
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.
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