Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Body Image

I just saw a flyer about a course that "will trace the evolution of the 'ideal' American woman from the pre-colonial period to the modern era..." and talk about "the pervasive cultural pressures stressing conformity to a single norm."

I'm certainly not an expert in the field, but I will argue that there are currently cultural pressures stressing conformity to multiple norms.  Take a look at "hipster chicks" with their tattoos, piercings, and atypical hair styles versus "sorority girls" who all need to be tan with blonde hair.  "Guidos" from Jersey Shore follow a different aesthetic than the "girl next door."  Athletes have different ideas of ideal, even among themselves: swimmer girls have wide shoulders and runners are thin.  Triathletes fall in the middle while roller derby girls try to get bigger.  "Nerdy girls" wear glasses and cardigans and "rich girls" wear expensive clothes and jewelry.  There is obviously not one standard.  In fact, there is a scene in Scrubs where JD is dating a black girl and asks Turk for advice.  Turk says that the only thing different about dating a black girl is that when she asks you if her butt looks big you reply "hell yeah!"

Any woman can be beautiful.  Self confidence is a major factor in projecting that beauty for others to see.  I think that each girl should do whatever makes her feel the best and most beautiful without trying to adhere to a single norm.  "Hippies" won't want to dye their hair blonde and wear expensive jewelry...in fact, that might not be the best option for them.  However, some girls will want to pull a mix-n-match of things that are found to be appealing by other groups.  A girl who is nerdy, athletic, and has tattoo sleeves can be very attractive.  I don't believe that there is a single norm, nor should there be.  Everyone ought to pursue their own path to beauty, even if that path does not lead very far.  Those without interest in beautification need not invest much time or effort in pursuit of physical appeal to others.
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