Let me first say that I generally object to all dissections of famous people’s weight gains and losses. I have to be realistic and say that one hand, this sort of thing is inevitable, but on the other hand – maybe if we had a slightly more inclusive beauty standard, it wouldn’t happen so often.
I am personally really tired of the slightly androgynous, petite, zero jiggle beauty standard that is currently meant to define “classy” or “fashionable.” I’m not saying that there aren’t women who totally rock that look – but come on. Some people just shouldn’t try to fit into that mould to begin with, but are told that they have to. The truth is, it doesn’t work for everyone, and its exclusivity doesn’t make it more appealing, just boring, because people who ought to know better are nattering on about how fabulous it is. At this point, it’s like hearing some twelve-year-old talk about how “awesome” Nickelback are. It’s been done, over and over again. If I was twelve, I would have been right there too. But I’m not twelve, and society must mature with me, dammit.
You know what? I hated it when Angelina Jolie was shown as having dropped at least a size in “Wanted.” It. Didn’t. Work. For. Her. Notice, I’m not calling her a “waif” or sneering about how she should have eaten a cheeseburger. What I am saying is that with her face and body structure, or, actually, divinely-inspired architecture, you need a little oomph and fat. If your body is not meant to weight 120 pounds, it will cry out in protest. And the strain will be visible to all.
I’m not even going to attempt to dig into all of the class and race issues surrounding body weight that we all carry around in our collective beauty culture. I still remember how Cindy Crawford was quoted at being amazed, and not in an especially positive way, that J. Lo could flaunt her decently sized butt like she did. Am not saying that Cindy’s racist (I kind of heart Cindy), but how long is it going to take people to catch on that, hey, it’s not a one-size-fits-all, and not everyone finds the skinny, granite-like supermodel ass attractive, and that it’s OK?
I know what many of you are going to say – “but Natalia, why not do away with beauty standards altogether?”
I say, fat (haw haw) chance. As my friend Octogalore recently said – we’re human beings, not celestial beings. We inhabit bodies, at least on this here good earth. And we react to each other’s bodies.
Now, I have felt the desire to do away with beauty standards. To do away with beauty. This desire comes and goes and is – surprisingly? I think not – connected to depression. Depression, I believe, often inspires a curious visual asceticism. You respond to colours differently. You can go days without noticing, say, particularly good weather, the sunbeams slanting just so through the window. You don’t even have the energy to wash your damn hair – and when you do, the end result doesn’t delight you. You search for split ends or complain about roots coming in. You don’t feel right in your body. And those feelings are displaced on everything around you.
Of course, beauty standards do not comprise all that is joyful in this world. Beauty standards can kill people. Many times, they go hand-in-hand with classism and misogyny: the foot-binding (I’m so rich, my wife doesn’t need to walk!), the tightly-laced corsets, the tanning beds (I just flew in from the Maldives!), the toxic bleaching creams, and so on. I wish that every person had the time to examine every beauty ritual that he or she participates in, and truly decides whether or not it’s right for them, or if it’s time to move on.
I don’t think we can ever eliminate judgment on looks from our culture. I think any attempts to do that are whacked-out, because if you think that waxing is a denial of our basic human nature – then guess what, so is saying that “we should never respond to each other visually, ever.” We will respond to each other visually. And we will police each other. We will lean across the table and go, “OMIGOD, what in the nine circles of the Inferno is this person wearing?”
But, maybe if we gain a little perspective, we will realize that this sort of judgment itself is a relative thing that can never quite be finite in its nature. That vanity is just that, vanity. And that OMIGOD SHE GAINED FIVE POUNTS SHE’S SOOOO FAT thing is just another variable.
P.S. Having said all that – is it just me, or are those jeans simply bad?