A lovely reader sent me a link to an incredibly interesting article published in the Chicago Tribune, about how Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, with her PHD penned a book titled; BEAUTY SICK: HOW THE CULTURAL OBSESSION WITH APPEARANCE HURTS GIRLS AND WOMEN.
It came on the heels of my skin regime post, and I read it with an open mind, and curiosity. Also, dear reader, not for one second did I take it as a “veiled criticism” XO. I love these types of articles, books, schools of thought etc. As a woman who struggled with bulimia when I was in my late teens, as a dancer trying to get to the front line, while dating a boy who thought I had “thunder thighs” and promptly dumped me for a girl with a sizeable thigh gap, who scratched at my face in an attempt to be anything but “so pretty.” You are totally preaching to the choir about the damage being caused, on vulnerable females, due to the emphasis being placed on outward beauty. But here’s something I’m sure many people don’t think about, it is an interesting thing being pretty. People don’t like you all that much. I’ve lost many jobs/acting roles, been given lower grades in school from female teachers, my locker was coked, a large chunk of the female students of a graduating class wrote I was their “pet peeve” in the yearbook, the list goes on, and on, and on. Being “pretty” is no cakewalk, trust me, I can’t imagine what being drop dead gorgeous would do to a person’s chances in life. I mean, we see beautiful people being worshiped on the covers of magazines, and being given labels like, Julia Roberts, just received for the fifth time, by People mag zine, as The MOST Beautiful Woman in the World; but I have to say, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Don’t even get me started on one woman being touted as the single most beautiful person on the planet. Like really?? Julia Roberts is the most beautiful woman of the ENTIRE WORLD? She is the single most beautiful woman globally, of our world? I like her, I even happen to think she is quite beautiful, but of the entire world? I love these labels. Can she not perhaps be the most beautiful in the industry, or something? But of the globe over, I’m sorry, I don’t think that is a title that can, nor should, go to anybody.
Anyway, I totally digress, as this is precisely the sort of thing Renee talks about in the Chicago Tribune piece. And listen, I agree very much about how our society puts way too much emphasis on beauty. The quest to have it. The work and expense of maintaining it if you do have it, or if you don’t have it, the cost of finding a doctor who can give it to you. Regardless of how somebody has come to receive “their beauty” you will not get an argument out of me that it’s importance is too front and center, especially in this younger generation, raised; here I go again, on the steady stream of the Karadashian man made “beauty” diet. I don’t subscribe to it, and not only, is it making girls sick, it’s also making them non-participants in the heavy load of social issues that currently need every single person’s attention.
But, and here it comes Renee, and lovely reader who sent me the article, the other side of the coin. I think it’s a shame to assume that all women who are beautiful, or who make the effort it takes to maintain beauty, as women who are distracted from the real issues of the world. This is not only a dangerous brush to paint beautiful women with, but I would also say, it reeks of discrimination against beautiful women. I for one, happen to know a plethora of incredibly beautiful women, who don’t like, nor do they want cellulite so they work out, and eat well, who also chair, or have spear headed socially important charities. Charities that are making a difference in the lives of many people. I also know a great number of women, who are drop dead gorgeous who can go toe to toe with any male CEO, in a pitch meeting and win the contract, who get their lips done, and keep their grey hair at bay by colouring their roots every four weeks.
The list of beautiful women that I know personally, three of whom I raised, who are deeply concerned about politics, the environment, and who not only manage to have great hair, but also great conversations, and take affirmative action with passion, to make their world a better place are too many to list here. So for me, although I will say I see Renee’s point, about why she exercises, I use this as an easy example to prove my point because like her I also workout to make my body stronger, because I totally want to be here for a very long time, but I want to be here in good health, so I can carry my grand-kids around on my hip, and take them to theme parks without needing a scooter to get around. But can’t I also work out to look cute in my jeans, or naked??? Isn’t taking care of yourself a good thing? It helps relieve the financial burden on our medical systems, our own families, and it teaches healthy lifestyle habits to our children. I tend to lean on the side of; why can’t women be both beautiful, globally engaged in the world around them with or without cellulite? Why does it have to be one or the other??
Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…
Anyway, here’s the link to the Chicago Tribune piece, read it and decide for yourself how you feel about it; it’s a fantastic read, with lots of solid points. http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/stevens/ct-beauty-sick-stop-complimenting-women-balancing-0424-20170424-column.html