I feel fairly certain that a marketing professional was the first person to refer to socially undesirable physical traits as “flaws.” And I’m totally certain that those “flaws” were on a woman’s body. When the concept of generating previously non-existent insecurities about beauty and bodies first arose in the marketing world, it arose as a means of selling stuff to women. But eventually, the idea of flawed bodies seeped out beyond cosmetics and girdles and hair removal systems and into the world of fashion. Now, every style expert spouts off about “hiding figure flaws” and “downplaying your flaws.” Every fashion mag claims it can reveal the secrets of “flawless skin” and “a flawless figure.” The language of body flaws is ubiquitous and unavoidable.
Originally posted 2011-12-06 06:33:20.
Many of the messages we receive about bodies have to do with conforming. The current standards for physical female beauty are narrow and exclusionary, yet we are pressured to deprive, manipulate, and punish our bodies into fitting those narrow, exclusionary standards. We are told, “Be the same, or be wrong.” We are told, “Look this way, or be lesser-than.” We are told, “There’s no room for variation here, so do everything in your power to conform.”
But no two human beings are alike. Even identical twins, who have the same genes down to the last, have distinct personalities, needs, voices, desires, and ambitions … and frequently metabolize, tan, and take hair color differently from one another. That “unique snowflake” cliche exists for a reason: We’re all marvelously individual. And that marvelous individuality is what makes human life interesting.
Originally posted 2012-01-10 06:37:03.
Self-consciousness is a funny beast, don’t you think?
We human beings seem to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about how we look, how we look compared to others, how we’re being perceived, whether we’re cool enough, and what others might be thinking about us. And all of these concerns are natural extensions of life in an active society, and especially of life in an active society that puts great stock in physical beauty.
But there’s a piece of wisdom that floats through my brain any time I feel myself starting to truly obsess about how I’m being perceived: The vast majority of human beings are so busy worrying about THEMSELVES, they hardly even notice YOU. In other words, self-consciousness isolates and cancels. Yeah, if you walk into a crowded bar wearing a yeti costume most of the bar patrons will focus on you. But if you walk into a crowded bar wearing bar-appropriate clothes, you are unlikely to become the sole object of intense scrutiny. Everyone there is too busy wondering what you think about them to spend much energy sizing you up.
Originally posted 2011-10-11 06:28:58.