Monday, May 02, 2005

While talking to Dr. Bitch about beauty standards, I realized what I meant to say is that the oppressiveness of beauty standards varies. I think we have feminism to thank for the ability to see beauty standards as non oppressive, in any way. For example, in places where marriage is very important for a woman's livelihood, and beauty is important for marriage, attempts to live up to beauty standards can take on a desperate flavor. For example, in the film Fantacoca in the complilation Africa, Africas, two interviewed women note that they engage in skin bleaching practices to obtain rich husbands. The color complex still reigns in many parts of the world, from the African Americans of the us(this is called colorism) to some south Asians(although I base this on anecdotes from Indians in the US about the importance of skin color in India, so I may not be accurate)

However, due to feminism, some of the importance of being married for a woman has faded, for example, a woman can make her own money, and own her own property. Another factor in beauty standards and oppressiveness may be youth. I think that young people want to conform to standards of what society values more, and adolescent self consciousness may heighten this. I do not know why subcultures have grown up around trying to adjust to beauty ideals or run away from them. For example(trigger warning: if you are sensitive to eating disorder topics, please do not click the link) this community centered around girls trying to starve themselves. Some say it's about beauty, and some say it isn't.

However, there are some women who will naturally be farther away from dominant beauty standards- for some this may intensify the desire to become beautiful or other ideals may be embraced- such as the 'thick' woman, or a woman embracing her natural hair beauty. However, it tends to take time to break from dominant ideals and to create new ones. For more information on beauty standards, try the book Unbearable Weight by Bordo.

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