Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What's your definition of beauty?

One of my classes this semester, Images of Beauty and American Women, focuses on what we believe beauty is, and the images of what define beauty for us. Our textbook is not really a textbook, but a feminist-inspired book called The Beauty Myth- How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women, by Naomi Wolf. Having just delved into chapter 1, it's already caught my interest and inspired this blog post.

Our first assignment was to create a collage of images that represent what we think beauty looks like. Mine was full of images of friends, my family, and nature. For me, beauty is not only a feature of a human face, but a personality trait as well. I also find beauty in the simple aspects of nature: a raindrop on a rose petal, a grassy meadow of wildflowers, or a serene lake just before sunrise. The laughter of a child, or a voice raised in song are all beautiful to me. My belief probably does not conform to what society defines as beauty, but so be it. Or maybe it does?

The other part of my assignment was to find examples of what American society defines as beauty. Here I was brutal: skinny, sick looking fashion models, faces that have been Botox'd, and heavily made up faces that look more like they should be in a porn movie than entertaining the younger generation. The over sexed mentality of what some Americans (mostly media) define as beauty is getting old. I am by no means a prude, but I also don't want to see a fourteen year old trying to show cleavage that she doesn't have yet. And why is that considered beautiful? Who is pushing this fourteen year old GIRL to dress in such a way? An adult? Do you think we, as a society, are becoming over sexed, and that our children are being introduced to such images at a younger and younger age?

As far as women go, does being feminine still keep us from being taken seriously in the workplace? If we dress and act as a woman, are we written off as air heads with no sense of business? Must I dress and act more "mannish" in order to be taken seriously? Have we gotten past this stereotype yet? Is there still resistance to women breaking that glass ceiling? I am not in the business sector, but I am interested to hear from those of you who are. I know many of you are successful in your chosen profession, but did you run into barriers along the way? Has the work of the women before us paved our way and made it easy?

So, what defines beauty for you? Have we made progress since the feminist movement, or have we only changed the way the game is played?

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