Making the World Understand

From the BBC News Magazine:

Making the World Understand My Face

Sometimes I think the problem is precisely that the population is so huge; there’s always someone new you have to explain yourself to, whether you’re dealing with disfigurement, deafness, blindness, poor health etc. I agree with what is said about beauty standards getting narrower; I think men (and women) imagine that if they keep looking, they will find someone perfect in every way — someone tall with white teeth, smoothly tanned skin and glossy hair, bouncing with confidence and charm. In fact, when I look around, most people are quite ordinary, including the better looking ones.

I saw a show with a couple of men who were sizing up the younger women in the group. They said one wasn’t bad but she was a bit small up top… I thought it was cheeky of them to look at all, never mind comment! They were a dead loss as men went, really, but I feel they have been brainwashed into believing that there is a perfect standard that all women should measure up to; they themselves expect nothing less in their partners and would blush to be caught out by their peers going around with a girl who was not some kind of supermodel. In such a large population, perhaps they feel they can afford to be picky.

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7 responses

  1. In my experience appearance fades into the background pretty quickly once you get to know a person. For example, I had a friend in college named Kenny who weighed in the neighborhood of 600 pounds. The first few times I was around him I was keenly aware of his enormous size, but once I got to know him I didn’t really think of it anymore; that was just Kenny, and that was how he looked, and it really wasn’t any big deal.

    I have a similar problem. I am so strikingly handsome that people often feel intimidated around me. 😉

  2. I’ve noticed it is often the least attractive men who have the highest expectations of women, and who also seem to believe any woman they are attracted to must automatically feel the same.

  3. Oh, don’t get me started. For me, beauty means standing out and showing some character, and I hate the way that a lot of women seem to think that it means looking like exactly the same hypothetical standard of bland, inoffensive perfection. (Not to mention the men who encourage them to think that way, while, as Kate said, simultaneously arguing that such a perfect idol should be interested in an ordinary slob who makes no effort with his own appearance.)

  4. I’ve often found the most refreshing people to be those who take care of themselves, but don’t worry about that kind of thing. After losing weight I’ve really noticed how different people treat you when you better fit the “norm” of what people find attaractive. I’m always a bit suspicious…can’t let go of that. It’s the shy kind people that I seem to make fast friends with. Sincerety is beautiful.

    I’ve always figured people who wanted me to look a certain way to like me wouldn’t like me anyways 🙂

  5. Some of the actresses have striking looks, e.g. Jodie Foster, but others (as Pacian mentions) don’t stand out in any way, despite appearing to fit the Hollywood norms of beauty. There are many I can’t tell apart, and I don’t even like the way they are made up. I would love to see their natural hair colour.

    Geo, I’ve seen others say that as well, how people treated them more pleasantly after they lost weight; they didn’t think “oh great, I fit in now;” instead they backed off from it. I think people who want us to look a particular way are hoping to impress their friends with their ‘find’.

    It does seem to have some very social connotations, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Someone who is nice to you privately will be nowhere to be seen once you get back in the classroom or office or wherever. 🙂

  6. For me, it isn’t the norm that makes me turn my head, it is those who look different. I met my husband and most would say he’s nothing special. He has a crooked grin and cocks up one eyebrow when he is curious or inquisitive about something or doesn’t believe what someone is saying. These features as well as his hazel eyes kept me staring at him all day when I first met him

  7. I’m like that too, Karin… my boyfriends (and crushes!) have all been distinct, interesting; perfectly fit in their own ‘out of the norms’ way. Perhaps the media idea of what is perfect is actually in some way… in the blind spot of our vision. Any individuality is erased.

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