Mixed Salad of Thoughts

Monday, May 08, 2006

More discussion on beauty

I've been on a discussion board that's been discussing some of the same issues with women and beauty and society and have been having some interesting discussion.

As someone there said:
My points thus far have been made to point out what I believe to be a comparison of the amount of direct influence males have over a woman's inadequacy (and thus her need to feel beautiful, etc) vs the amount of influence females have over the same sense of inadequacy.

I think that through a woman's lifetime, her female associations have more of an effect on her self image than her male associations.

Consider:
- A woman will usually interact first with female peers regarding gender issues, even before 'first contact' with a member of the opposite sex.
- In the early stages, issues such as who's ugly, who's cute, who's hot, who's a whore, etc etc are discussed with her female friends. At this point, she learns how to act, how to feel, how not to dress prior to any interaction with males.
- In the early stages, males are goofy. Period. If you're claiming that they are consciously attempting to shape the female psyche in order to maintain a stranglehold of control of the unliberated female psyche, you're on crack. Males at this age snort milk through their nose, and momentarily lose motor control when they *think* they can see a girl's undies.
- Women go to the bathroom together. This happens ALL the time. This. Does. Not. Happen. With. Guys. Ever. And if it does, it is not discussed. Ever.

Humour aside (it's 2 in the morning. I'm weak.) women spend a whole lot of time convincing each other about why other women are beautiful and why they're ugly before they ever get any kind of commentary from a guy. This happens in their early years all the way through to first contact. The issues are discussed at length in slumber parties, between classes, in teen magazines and women's magazines. I mean, you've got publications that are allegedly written BY women FOR women about 'health' and 'Beauty', and you've had that for generations prior to the very first GQ.

You talked about the "early stages" but I think you're skipping ahead of the real "early stages". I'm sorry I don't have the actual study, but I know I've read about it too:
I keep thinking about that study a few years ago where the researchers took a bunch of babies and dressed them all like girls. Then they asked strangers to interact with them. The adults assumed (because of the clothes) that the babies were all girls. When the handled them they did so gently, and used words like "pretty" and "fragile". Then the researchers took the same babies, dressed them as boys and repeated the experiment. This time, the adults played rougher games with the babies and called them things like "strong" and "smart". Overall, the adults assessed the "boy" babies (who were really boys and girls) as healthy and competent, and the "girl" babies as "tiny" (even though they were the same babies) and "beautiful". It made me wonder how many assessments I make about babies based on their gender, and how I treat them without even thinking about it.

We are told what we are and how we should behave and look from our infancy by both Men and Women. Children pick up on the traits that are most desired and accepted. Boys are guided towards being "tough" and a "big boy" and girls are encouraged to be "sweet" and "pretty" by encouragement of every adult they meet who either lavishes attention on these positives or scolds them for their opposites.

Studies also show that uglier children get less attention from their parents and others than their more attractive counterparts, so just as a two year old has already figured out exactly how to manipulate their parents into giving them popsicles for dinner, how much do little girls also figure out that the prettier they make themselves the more love and attention they will receive as a reward?

By the time we reach slumber parties it's more like we're comparing "trade secrets" and "marketing strategies" than just encouraging our friends to buy into the concepts.
Can't you all just exist without putting yourselves in the context of a man?
I don't have a fully formed thought on it, but it does seem interesting to me that when there is a large enough community of homosexuals a certain culture develops and that the gay male culture seems quite based on looks and physique, and the lesbian cultures seem far less focused on physical attributes. Could it be that we all market ourselves in the way we find most effective for our prospective mates, and when women no longer need to market themselves to men the physical aspects are of less importance?



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1 Comments:

Blogger Mara said...

Hey, Valerie - I'm reading. I'm in a bit of a fog, but I'm reading. My mother, "Another Stephanie", also sent me to the Yarn Harlot's site to read up on the clothing of infants - and then, tada, it's in your head, too. Not too much to say, other than, yup.

5:47 AM  

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