Only a few days into my new blog and I found myself fretting – ‘what if I can’t think of anything interesting to say now that I have a limitless forum in which to share it?’
(Also, to be fair, I’m now wondering…is it still a forum if no one reads it? But fuck it. I’m doing probably the most worthwhile thing I’ve done all day and I work full time…which means my unsuspecting employer is in fact compensating me presently for these ramblings.)
So I kinda loved this article. Are women foolish to love stilettos? Ch-ch-check it out. I started reading the article because I love my stilettos (deeply, all of them) and I was intrigued about where they were going with the ‘foolish’ angle. From a strictly medical standpoint, I completely agree – high heels are asinine. My feet are half destroyed and I’m only 31. Look at the millions that are being made in the ‘holy shit, these shoes are gonna kill my feet what can I buy to mitigate that agony industry’: I have a bin full of insoles and grippy things and tiny bandaids and even [I shit you not] foot lube (which by-the-way is an awesome product: For real, get some.) From a social standpoint though, high heels are genius. Nothing makes me feel more confident than strutting around in heels. I feel thinner, sexier, more powerful and more in-control: my confidence level shoots up right along with my height. And that is why I suffer – because confidence is an elusive quality: if they bottled it and it tasted horrible, I’d be guzzling it down by the bottle-ful – but they don’t (and becoming an alcoholic isn’t really an option I’m up for considering), so I slip on my high heels, throw my shoulders back and feel kick-ass despite the occasional blister.
ANYWAY…the actual article is less about shoes and more about women and beauty in the 21st century. Pretty fascinating, when you hear it elucidated so clearly: “At a moment when girls and women have never been more empowered, they are in thrall to ever more ruthless standards of beauty.” It’s true, of course, women today (let’s be clear that unfortunately my use of the word ‘women’ herein only refers to women living in Western cultures) have more options than ever before and are continuing to achieve a greater standard of social, economic and vocational equality than ever before. (Crap. I could go on at length about the changing roles and definitions of women in our society today…I’ve gotta stop there and hop off my soapbox or else this post is going to veer way too far from its intended course.)
The troubling thing about the article is this: if you’re a woman with even the remotest sense of vanity, it can’t help but leave you asking yourself “would I rather be hit by the truck?”
And I guess I’m pretty much morally bankrupt…because as long as I didn’t suffer any lasting physical disfigurement, (which would completely defeat the purpose of choosing the truck over getting fat), I’m leaning towards the truck (no pun intended).
I’m not going to lie, I was really rather relieved (and not actually too surprised) to read that a majority of women (near my age bracket) feel the same way. There’s no real way around it…I’m vain…we all are, I guess, at least to a certain extent. I have admiration for the women out there who love their bodies no matter what and feel so confident they can appear in public without makeup on…but then my internal mean girl is judging them too – and usually the bitch has her say first and then I do the mental correction ‘no, no, self, you should admire her! She’s so much less self-conscious than you are!’ (Funny how I can manage to put myself down, even while putting others down. But more on that in a future post. My digressions here are already digressing.)
Where was I? Oh yes, the truck. The truck is more appealing on so many levels. Get hurt? Sympathy cards, flowers, ice cream. Get fat? Gossip, pity, judgey stares while eating ice cream. I think it’s time to clarify that for every woman, ‘fat’ is a different thing and not only that, the definition for ‘fat’ that I would apply to my own body is considerably more stringent than how I would classify others as fat. In the last year I lost 20 pounds. I felt SO fat with those extra 20 pounds on me – in fact, I’d love to lose another 5 (or rather, re-lose the 5 that snuck back on, plus another 5). Anyone who knows me would likely agree I was never fat. Just a little curvier than I’d ever been previously. I actually think curves look utterly fabulous on many women and I’m in strong agreement that beautiful bodies come in many different dimensions – we don’t come out of cookie cutters and I’m glad of it. But that doesn’t make me any less hard on myself and I know I’m not alone in this state of mind.
I think that more than anything else, the article has me wondering whether our society’s increasingly restrictive standards of beauty will reach high tide anytime in the foreseeable future. Because if not, before long, only genetic and surgical manipulation will be able to produce women who measure up and the rest of us will be comparing ourselves to a bunch of mutants. You don’t have to look any further than the covers of the beauty and gossip magazines to come to the startling realization that it’s already happening. The women who grace the covers of these publications are, more often than not, altered both physically and through digital means to make them so utterly flawless that even the most stunning of natural women can’t help but feel ugly.
Thankfully, there are caricatures like Joan Rivers to serve as cautionary examples. Seriously, if we don’t get a firm grasp on a more realistic standard of beauty we’re all going to end up looking like pincushions. In my golden years, I sincerely hope that I am more focused on living life to the fullest than making it to my Botox appointment on time after a day that included a grueling workout with my personal trainer and 4 hours at the salon having my hair coloured some ridiculous shade in an attempt to retain a youthful appearance that simply isn’t realistic. My role model for appearance in my 8th and 9th decades (should I have the good fortune to live that long) is Betty White. She obviously takes great care of herself and has beautiful skin and hair but let’s get real: her skin has wrinkles and her hair is white, and although she isn’t overweight, he hasn’t retained her pin-up figure of a bygone era. (Google Betty and have a look at some old pictures – she was an absolute stunner!)
I am looking forward to the day when there is a collective revolt against the unattainable standards of beauty that grip our culture and we can all stop wishing so fervently to be women we’re not: because the truck is coming, full speed, loaded to the gills with cosmetics and hair products and workout equipment and body-shaping undergarments, and beauty magazines and surgical implements and ‘experts’ of all varieties proclaiming our inadequacy that we’re not going to survive impact otherwise.