Monday, 11 August 2008


So, there will be a discussion of our culture's ridiculous female beauty standards, generally centering around weight.

A lot of women will say "They're ridiculous. They make me feel terrible about myself, when I'm actually, y'know, OK" and some other sensible, non-controversial things like that.

Then, some bloke - or many blokes - will jump in and say HONESTLY! You silly women, all the problems would be solved if you just STOP CARING about your weight. I like a woman to have curves, so you shouldn't be turning to fashion magazines for acceptance, you should be turning to ME! You silly women, honestly, what will you think of next? Ha ha ha.

Another will say, that's right, men don't mind what you look like, and because you obviously exist entirely for men, you shouldn't worry your pretty little heads.

This is predictable, and unhelpul.

They get worse if there's a (rare) discussion about non-white women using beauty products that make them resemble white ones.

The same blokes (though, sometimes, white women too) Well, aren't you silly! You should be proud of your race! You look fine! Why don't you just stop thinking about it entirely. Silly women, aren't you shallow. Ha ha ha.

A lot of people benefit substantially from making white women feel unacceptable, and non-white women feel even worse. They have a great deal of vested interest in female unhappiness. They are prepared to do absolutely anything to allow it to continue. This is the case.

Y'know, for a lot of women, the role their looks/weight play in attracting the opposite/same sex bothers them less than... keeping their job. Avoiding street harassment. Avoiding cruel judgement by relatives and "friends". Most importantly, avoiding feelings of self-hatred.

Sorry, you men. It's not about your utter sexiness. I know you think everything ought to be.

Though it is a typical narrative of people who are attracted to women - she really thinks she's unattractive! Does she live in some nightmarish hall of mirrors? Is she legally blind? - it's not the lady concerned who is the crazy one.

I'm NOT discussing femme, cosmetic-using, frock-wearing women who do those things entirely for fun, or because they are expressing their feminine gender identity, or for any reason that isn't to stem self-hatred or because they feel they should. I'm glad that they are allowed self-expression, just like I'm sad that women with different wants are not, and am in love with the humble eyeliner pencil myself (you know how many gay Goths there are about - look at some NUS LGBT discussions and drown in a sea of lacy blood).

But a woman who tortures herself with illegal, painful, carcinogenic skin lighteners? A woman who starves herself? If someone is willing to go to those lengths, it's unlikely that she can *just forget it*. And it's perfectly visible what makes her that way, even if some people (those who can) choose to ignore it.

n.b. for those people who have never met me - I'm not talking entirely out of my arse when discussing how women are treated. Remember that I look like one, so might have a bit of insight - not as much as an *actual* woman, but.

n.b. 2 - the catalyst for this rambling post was this. So... a light-skinned mixed-race woman has to be lightened to be acceptable? I'm thinking - how could that possibly make a dark-skinned black woman feel wonderful?


Daphne said...

Ah, yes, well, in acting there's a lot of work available for black women. As long as they're not actually, well, black. Just enough brown-tintedness to show that they once had an ancestor who was, well, black. So we can say we've cast a black woman in the role, without ACTUALLY casting a DARK-SKINNED black woman.

Sarah B said...

As a black woman, I've never had a problem with my colour. There are MANY things about my appearance which cause me varying amounts of grief, but I have never felt anything less than positive about my skin.

Mind you, I have always noticed that, when it comes to my hair, I've always preferred it straight and "European" rather than natural. That could be more due to childhood memories of pain entangled in the hair, but I don't know.

Daphne: I have noticed that. Man, that sucks!

Oliver A. FP said...

Sarah: Good! That is good.

But... problems with the rest of you? See, here's where we can't say "Don't be silly! You look lovely!!1eleventy", because you have a BRAIN and are likely to know, intellectually, the reasons you feel bad about your looks, even though you can't get rid of the feelings.

So that wouldn't be helpful.

That reminds me, Gareth's sister, another bisexualist, was raving about your looks from photos of you. Gareth was all "Yup, gorgeous. Yup," *happy face*

Depends whether your parents brushed your hair like mine did mine (pointing no fingers here, DAPHNE).

Sarah B said...

Gareth's sister, as in Jo?

And, your comment gave me a warm/fuzzy feeling inside; this is like having friends! :p Hehe, people think I'm pretty. *beeeaaaam*

And, yeah... the parental hair brushing thing really wasn't fun, at all, in the slightest. Thank god I got my hair relaxed.

And, zomg, Daphne is the mother of Olli? I only just realised this now because I'm thick. :D

Daphne said...

I can only say that it is the tendency of all parents to brush hair like that, sorry. And when you are parents then you will too. You think oh, I won't do THAT to my child - - and then suddenly a mad hair-brushing frenzy overcomes you and you are powerless to stop it.