Monday, October 1, 2007

The Problem with Perfect


This season, like all seasons, conformity is a fashion must. Not in the clothes, mind you - there are some pretty wild designs out there - but in the models. Just everyone is talking about it, darling - looking at the featured Fashion Week models is reminiscent of an Attack of the Clones viewing. Wear whatever color you will, the designers seem to tell us, but to truly embody the feminine beauty ideal - do try to be white. Oh, and be super-slim. Be tall too, if you can manage it - and blond hair is always a great accessory.

As we are bombarded with images of runway models in Milan, Paris and New York, it becomes evident that there are certain traits that an individual must possess in order to fit the one, all-pervasive beauty ideal. Rather than celebrating the glorious diversity of female physiques and figures, we try our hardest to stamp out our differences. Why? Well, for the same reason we do just about everything - for profit. The more narrow the beauty standard, the more products can be sold to those who would squeeze themselves into its close parameters.

Some savvy scientists are also working to make all women look exactly the same, struggling to define the exact proportions, dimensions, and shape of the ideal breast... so as to sell us better boob jobs. Because secure women are bad for the beauty industry, the more narrowly we define the perfectly beautiful breast, the better it is for the economy.

At the risk of being called a pink-o, I would like to suggest that perhaps, in this one case, what is best for the market is not best for society. Perhaps there is not just one perfect breast or hight or skin tone - but lots of ways to look gorgeous. Perhaps with the health care crisis being what it is, it would be nice to encourage fewer girls towards anorexia - and they could use all that self-discipline and the extra energy for something useful - like inventing the magic technology that Bush keeps promising will appear and save us all from global warming.

The Eating Disorders Information Network reports that "that 60% of high school seniors are dieting" and that "'20-30% of normal weight 4th graders think they are fat." Fourth graders are worried about their figures? This is a problem. Are we really going to leave it entirely up to a soap company to save us from these attempts to program us into uber-consuming fembots?

1 comment:

La Pobre Habladora said...

Someday, when we are big and famous, I will follow the tradition of simply striking things out if I read back over a post and discover that at the time I wrote it I was temporarily insane or suffering from late-night posting disorder. As for now, though, to read examples of SI posting gone wrong, you'll have to look in the comments. Here is what I took out of the above post when I reread it:

"You see, like the breed-specific traits of show-dogs, the ideal traits for women are very closely defined. Yet, women -unlike dogs - can buy accessories (or surgical procedures) to more closely resemble their composite ideal, thus fueling a healthy economy.

Show dogs, eat your hearts out... below are some categories in which we are both judged and the ways in which we women are encouraged to buy our uniformity:

Head: The length and shape of the nose - easily changed with surgery. The face shape - well, perhaps an expensive hair cut will make us all look like we all have identically shaped oval faces.

Forequarters and Hindquarters: Long legs and a backside that is neither too plump or too flat is the feminine standard for beauty. We buy heels to compensate for shorter legs. Dieting or surgery might be necessary for the derriere.

Topline: To give us the full, perky bosom (but not too full) defined as ideal, surgeons await our calls.

Coat Quality: Lustrous locks - an hour or so with a stylist might give us the right hair. The color may range from platinum to honey to strawberry blond.

Size: Oh, we can diet a thousand different ways. All of them require a purchase."

Yup - I compared us all to prancing little show dogs. At length. Sorry about that... I don't know what I was thinking.