on societal standards of beauty, etc. etc.

It being fashion week and all, I have been thinking about this a lot…

I did a pretty strict cleanse for about a week and ended up losing some weight (most likely–I don’t own a scale but I can usually tell anyway).  After this, my brother asked me ‘if I’d been sick’ because ‘I looked frail’.  Now, firstly, I think this is kind of an offensive thing to say–but it was, after all, my big bro, so I let it slide.  Secondly, though, upon bringing this up to roomie, she told me that I looked fine to her.  On the bright side, I feel as though this justifies the extreme gluttony I plan to engage in this weekend. :)

But these interactions caused me to consider two things: one, why do women have a different definition of an appropriate weight than men, and two, the fact that many of us are probably thinner than we would be at our “natural” or “baseline weight” (I can’t really remember what it’s called?).

Ms. Moss

Although retrospectively, I realise I grew up in an environment where thinness was emphasized, I don’t think it was something I was acutely aware of until college–perhaps partially due to the freshman 15, which I learned is no myth.  I have a perception that my uni was above average in terms of social pressure regarding appearance, due to my own perceptions as well as hearing those of friends who attended other institutions…whether or not my perception is accurate I do not know.  However, I can say that jokes that our university was filled with ‘anorexic cokeheads’ were nearly ubiquitous–both within our student body and with students from surrounding schools.

As for me, I actually like to be very thin, aesthetically speaking I find it to be the most pleasing look to me.  However, I’m also quite concerned with health, so I would not put my health at risk to suit my aesthetic preferences.  I’m not crazy about it or anything…but like I said, I like the appearance of very thin women; I have a girl crush of epic proportions on Kate Moss, as I think she’s incredibly gorgeous–and we all know girlfriend is quite thin.  The odd thing is, sometimes when I am happier with my body, I see photographs of myself and think I look awful.  Do other women feel this way?  It really is quite ironic because I really like the “heroin chic” look on other people, but when it comes to myself, I hate looking at myself and feeling that I appear as though I’ve just finished a four-day bender and am on the verge of death.  Haha, well that’s a bit dramatic, but you know what I mean, don’t you?  If not, here are a few photographic representations of my aesthetic preferences, courtesy of the fashion industry:

A shot from my favourite Chanel ad campaign (I think it was spring/summer a few years ago)

A shot from my favourite Chanel ad campaign (I think it was spring/summer a few years ago)

A Prada Advertisement

A Prada Advertisement

Kate Moss again, in a YSl ad

Kate Moss again, in an Yves Saint Laurent ad

The irony is of course that no one does “heroin chic” quite like Kate Moss, but that it should be called cocaine chic in her case, because she obviously hits the booger sugar quite often, a fact that has been relatively well-documented.

Also, I don’t really care what anyone says, I sincerely doubt that any high fashion model follows a healthy diet–perhaps they are naturally thin, yes, but to be 6 ft tall and weigh 110 pounds is probably only genetically possible for a infinitesimally small slice of the population…so I don’t buy the notion that models and the fashion industry are selling anything other than unhealthy lifestyles, despite constant proclamations to the contrary.

Perhaps this makes me a bit of a hypocrite, as I more or less fit the very definition of the word perfectly in the sense that I don’t “practice what I preach” in this arena, because I think a lot of our culture’s ideas about beauty are seriously f*cked up…but I adhere to them anyway–to a certain extent at least.  It is quite cliché to say, but I truly cringe for the young women/teenagers that are confronted with this.  I often put serious thought into ways I can positively influence my younger family members in such a way so as to counteract the extreme messages the media subliminally, and sometimes explicitly, delivers to their impressionable brains.

The other strange thing, though, is that women’s ideas on body type are much different than those of men–I can’t tell you how many studies I have read that indicate men consistently prefer a more “curvy” body type than the average women holds as her ideal.  That is just strange to me, and the context of it says a lot about the pressure on women in our society, as well as how we as women view each other, and ourselves.

It’s also incredibly odd to me that most (I think it’s more than half now, statistically) Americans are overweight and a very large percentage are obese…and we are greeted in the media with images such as these which not only fail to represent most people, but also are basically the antithesis of “most people”–I should say that I somehow doubt the statistics, because I can’t say that the majority of the people I encounter are overweight, although I think some of this could be geographical (as I tend to think overweight people dwell more in the Bible belt and associated areas), but nonetheless, one has to wonder what these things mean from a sociological standpoint.  But perhaps that is a consideration for another day!

I just had to vent my thoughts on this, as it has been on my mind today and I’m trying to avoid doing work, as usual.  I hope everyone has a fantastic Friday!! :)

xx Charlee

6 Comments

Filed under fashion & beauty, random, ruminations

6 responses to “on societal standards of beauty, etc. etc.

  1. Gotcha, you and your hot friends are all super thin and not apologizing for it.

  2. Charlee

    I’m glad you got the point Michael. I was afraid I hadn’t made myself clear enough!

  3. Thanks for visiting my page and leaving a comment! I just read your last post, and you are an amazing writer. I will be back to read more!

    Yes, America overall is overweight, but I worked at an elementary school as an assistant for some time, and I teach a lifegroup of 2nd graders at church, and it scares me that so many of the girls are already talking about their bodies and dieting even when they are thin.

    When I was in highschool eating disorders spread like wildfire. Resulting in two girls I knew being sent away to AZ for treatment. I wish the media would focus some of their attention on the new craze.

  4. Charlee

    Thank you for your compliment! That is very sweet of you to say. And I like your weblog a lot! I am excited to learn more about Kentucky. :)

    I agree with you on the fact that eating disorders and young women’s body images are a big issue. Words really can’t express how much this issue bothers me…I mean, I imagine it bothers most people, or at least most women.

    My post wasn’t really about the fact that the media encourages body image issues, and arguably, unhealthy lifestyle habits, it was merely my thoughts at the moment on women and their bodies and the sort of dichotomy of everyone bitching about all of the unhealthy images we are presented with, whilst upholding the images and ideals within their own perspectives.

  5. d.muffin

    It’s interesting reading about this from the point of view of a thin person…typically body image is discussed by overweight people (hand up) trying to meet some standard.

    To go along with what you touched on with men, I’ve found that what men like visually differs quite a bit from what they like to feel when the lights are out. On one hand, they appreciate the thin, tight packaged girls but when it gets down to the gritty of it, they want curves and some meat. :) not to get graphic or anything!

  6. Charlee

    Well I think it was probably somewhat evident in the posting, but I do have body image issues, as I tend to think most women in our society do…it’s not about what you look like but more so the fact that it is unlikely that you’ll ever be satisfied with that

    Haha and I think you’re right about what guys like ‘when the lights go out’ ;-)

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