When virtue and modesty enlighten her charms, the lustre of a beautiful woman is brighter than the stars of heaven, and the influence of her power it is in vain to resist.
The simple truth of humanity is that women have been lauded and worshiped for their physical beauty. The world over sees every culture — with their own quirks — place high value on a woman’s youth and beauty. Countless works of art, novels and poems are been created to celebrate a man’s adoration for a woman’s gorgeous countenance. Women’s beauty has caused many men to fall in love, collapse in ruin and accede to the highest states of human consciousness. It is evident that male attraction to female beauty isn’t a social construction.
The current zeitgeist in the Western is to express anger and outrage over images of women’s bodies in the media. I won’t even link to any particular website or book, as a simple Google search will present a person with copious amounts of evidence that this is currently a hot social issue.
The rhetoric typically goes a bit like this: Impossible beauty standards are foisted onto girls and women by advertisements on television and in magazines. While the causes vary, the more extreme rhetoric (by feminists) is that hetero-patriarchal beauty norms are forced onto women and this is a result of deeply-ingrained misogyny. Anorexia, “fat talk,” and generalized female anxiety over their bodies is a result of men collectively wanting to hurt women. This social construct that “all men are beasts” usually stems from individual women expressing disappointment over the men in their life. Failed childhoods, unrequited feelings with lovers and existential disappointment over male misbehavior in society are the primary causes of women to pretend “all men are beasts.” Feminism is the ideological manifestation of this.
Still, from the normal perspective, the average woman reads quite a bit about “introspective” discussions over what beauty standards are and what they should be. The answer to the former is that they are always nigh “impossible” and the answer to the latter is that “they should be determined by the woman herself.” Which means it is all bullshit.
The problem is that the discussion assumes and concedes that media will control how women view their bodies. See the problem? Sure, women are trained in this, but it catches women in a spot that advertisers exploit. On one hand, women reflexively want to resist authority figures dictating terms to them. On the other, they do want standards for beauty, but they want the standards to be altered so that they — in their current state — would be considered beautiful.
Women aren’t interested in actually changing themselves at all or bettering themselves in any sense. They demand that authority figures provide them with body types that reflect how they see themselves. Media realizes this and simply advertises: “Hey, we don’t airbrush! We embrace body diversity! We challenge gender!” This draws in a demographic that neither has the ability nor desire to change. Seeing women go from obese or chubby to fit and attractive is supremely psychologically disturbing. It knocks out the “impossible” assertion from the typical beauty standard rant and means that, if they so chose, they could meet the standard.
It is one massive movement to resist true, personal change. Personal change is difficult. To a chubby woman who has never cared for her body with respects to exercise and nutrition, it can be a challenge. The social forces that seductively lure her into the lair of personal denial and ignorance of reality are the same ones that preach “body diversity” and “fat acceptance.”
In many ways, it can be compared to the allegory of taking the blue-pill. Instead of confronting personal psychological deficiencies, these “body diversity” movements offer up a temporary salve. Much like getting drunk after your wife handing you divorce papers, it is a short term approach to ameliorating pain. However, it has an incredibly dark underbelly: all the time you spend ignoring your problems or needing authority figures to buttress your identity is time you wasted getting through your issues. The short term dividend from feel-good movements always results in a serious bank fee once the inevitable passage of time occurs. You can’t pray away your own issues, including your body image ones.
Pretending that plus-sized women strutting up and down the catwalk is good will only hurt women long term. The temporary high — like any other addiction — will fade quickly and will only become more fleeting the more it’s indulged. Their cries won’t be about plus-size models, but plus-size women in TV shows, fat women in lead roles of movies, etc. The cries will get more insistent and impassioned as the they near the inevitable consequence of all this teeth-gnashing: confronting the self.
If “body diversity” activists win out there will be victorious backfat-slapping and bellyroll-bouncing. It will quickly come to disquiet as the aspirational images are no longer skinny, attractive women. Suddenly, the women to aspire to be are not others, but them. Media images are aspirational, make no bones about that. So, these triumphant women parading around social media will realize that they are the women they aspire to be. They are objects of envy. Beneficiaries of privilege. Before they reach for the bottle or the knife, the dream end because that will never happen.
Like any narcissistic society, we spend most of our time wishing things were true. This is true for the “body diversity” movements. They don’t believe that society truly has these oppressive body standards, but only that they wish that it were. They know, deep down, that they have a better shot at changing the whole world around them than themselves. They know that forcing others to conform is more likely to succeed than getting themselves to change without any outside pressure. They know the media isn’t the problem. Beauty isn’t completely socially constructed, but informed greatly by biology. The wishes of social construction are little more than lamentations over personal lethargy and a lack of a stable self.
In order for media images of women to negatively affect women, the women affected must already have poor senses of self. Women, from time immemorial, have confronted and combated women more attractive than themselves. The fight in the sexual marketplace over hierarchy and access to sexually attractive men is nothing new. The new insecurities have their roots in how society socializes women. Socializing women to tie their senses of self to authority figures in media is a new development that reflects where society is now.
Images of female bodies do affect women in negative ways, but only because they have been trained that way. Taught to aspire, they have gone from conforming to standards, to flouting beauty standards to childishly demanding that the standards conform to what they are. No, it is not that advertisements and media shouldn’t be controlling. It most certainly is not that they need to conform to standards. No, it is that the standard is them. The world of sexual attractiveness and beauty standards begins and ends with them. The literal gold standard is them looking in the mirror when they take pictures of themselves with their iPhones.
Media trains women to simultaneously be highly insecure of their physical appearance while then offering the short-term salve of narcissism to shore up their insecurities. The world of wanting to want things leads women to wanting to be attractive. Yet, they do not have the self-esteem or moral fortitude to actually change the self, so the self isn’t the problem, but the world surrounding the self. Society has devolved to the point where many women will not even strive to meet standards they consider artificial.
When the standard is yourself and you spend your time valuing yourself against other people, that can only lead to misery. When media tells women, “You are beautiful just the way you are!” they are telling them to start with themselves and then consider other women’s beauty. It is one thing to have women emulate beauty from other women. It is another to tell women beauty starts within the self, but then know that that self is based out of perceptions of other women.
Tell them skinny models are worthy of emulation, and you’ll have some women who better themselves and some who don’t. Tell them to admire fat women and you’ll have a deepening national crisis of obesity.
So are beauty standards of women in media hurting women?
“Mirror, mirror on the wall? Who is the fairest of them all?”
It all depends on what a woman sees in the mirror.