Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Standards of Beauty

The following statement just appeared at the Womanist Musings blog:
"No matter what it is that we endeavour to achieve it is always questioned. We are either too sexy or not sexy enough. Our bodies are continually deemed for male consumption and can be considered either a detractment or an enhancement to the task at hand in a way that males are never positioned. Men get to exist simply as they are. No matter the privilege for women it all comes down to the same thing…negotiating a patriarchal sexist world while attempting to maintain our dignity. "
In my opinion, this attitude stems from a deeply flawed belief that patriarchy is a 100% detrimental to all women and a 100% beneficial to all men. In what concerns physical appearance, it is true that every time we open a magazine or see a commercial we see women who look the way a normal woman wouldn't be able to achieve even if she dedicated her entire existence to it. But these women are always accompanied by equally impossibly looking men. They are all tall, wide-shouldered, muscled, have no or little body hair, no skin problems, and chiseled chins and noses. Pick up a male underwear catalogue and tell me if you actuually know any men who look this way.
We have finally arrived at a stage of our society's development, where women can at least talk about their body image issues, get diagnosed with bulimia and anorexia, and get help. Now we have to accept that men suffer from these problems just as much. There is no emotionally and psychologically comfortable public (and often also private) space today for men to acknowledge that they have body image issues, that what they experience might be anorexia or bulimia, and that it's ok to discuss it and get help for it.
Patriarchy is a Procrustean bed that gives us a set of rules that we have to adhere to because we are of a certain gender. In order to fit into this mold, we - men and women alike - have to chop off pieces of ourselves, of our bodies, of our personalities. And this is bad for everyone.

No comments: