Monday, June 13, 2011

Beauty Narrowly Defined

In this Fashables post, the male author says that a skin care clerk at a major department store asked him “Do you need something to help with the dark circles under your eyes?”
The author asked his women readers if we were okay with this sort of question. I think we are. How many women dye their grey hair or try to prevent or conceal their wrinkles with cream? Age is a demon. We desperately try to escape from it.

I believe the aesthetics industry has cultivated a strategy to encourage women to buy products by defining natural qualities as ugly or unhealthy. We see it in commercials. Check out this Oil of Olay commercial in which the model encourages women to "stop the battle against aging."

Maybe this is radical, but I think the media has conditioned women to feel ugly or inadequate. Beauty is narrowly defined, but something women must have.

I'm sure there's more to it than that, but this Fashables post really got me thinking. The author seemed to understand that we women are okay with insults. We're okay with people treating us like we have imperfections that need to be improved. Most people don't seem to react negatively to commercials like the Oil of Olay one I just showed you.

I am not okay with it and not just because I find it very offensive and harmful to women's confidence; I find qualities that come with aging attractive. I look forward to getting wrinkles. They will show I've laughed a lot in my life. I already have about five grey hairs and I love them. I am not against women trying to hide the signs of aging; I just think we need to re-examine our perception about what is beautiful and healthy. I am not okay with the insults, with this idea that my skin needs a hero or a doctor.

I suppose this would be easier if age discrimination didn't exist or if traditional beauty didn't afford such great privilege.


  1. Yeah, baby! You said this so well!

  2. Society is constantly telling women that we're not good enough or pretty enough and if we don't buy certain products we can expect to live unhappy and loveless lives. It's bullshit.

  3. Bossy - Thank you so much!

    theTsaritsa - It IS bullshit. Thanks for calling it like it is. I totally agree with you.

  4. I couldn't agree more. My self worth is not reflected in the mirror. I don't care if I get wrinkles and too many grays to count.

    I often wondered what would happen if we put all the money the 'beauty' industry rakes in to better use?

  5. I didn't bother to watch the vid. Is it any different from the binding of feet of Asian girls?....or brass rings to elongate the neck in another culture? "Don't Iron While the Strike is Hot" does anyone even recall that movement? Mass media shapes us, and erases what doesn't serve the patriarchal dominance of the world by a small and powerful, unfeeling elite.

  6. I felt belittled for the last time about 20 years ago - by one of those overly made up crows at a beauty counter. After thinking about it I decided I'd rather be me than a stereotype. After all no-one can be me as well as I can. And I'm getting better and better at it as I grow older.

  7. So very true! I personally have better things to do with my money than purchase countless beauty products and botox!


  8. Vicki - Man, you are my sister in this movement! I love it. Thanks!

    Mythopolis - I'm not sure how this video would compare, but good point that media isn't the only influence. And it does seem to be a small, elite influence. Thanks!

    Jane - Yeah! Hold onto your cash. Thanks!