Tuesday, November 26, 2013

No, you are not beautiful; get over it

I once overheard a bunch of average-looking women all agreeing that it was an insult for a man to have referred to one of their number while on a date as "cute" and "pretty". (The second seems to have been his attempt to smooth things over when she took visible offense at the first.) They all agreed that she was right to be offended at this. I think of those women every time I read an article celebrating the fact that Robyn Lawley is a lingerie model. Stuff like this:
While the high-fashion industry might consider the gorgeous model Robyn Lawley to be plus-size, we view the 6'2" beauty more as a catalyst of a healthier-looking future for cat-walkers.
Meaning, the writer hopes Lawley will create a fashion for larger women. Well, probably not.

In any case, I don't think the oft-expressed concern about what is and what is not healthy looking is the real point here. Thousands of women (and men) die because of health problems caused by obesity for every one who dies because of being too thin. On top of which, anorexia seems to be caused by psychological problems and not by an attempt to look like fashion models.

"Beautiful" is an ambiguous word; it means different things in different contexts. A man tells his wife that she is beautiful and he really means that she is beautiful. Later that day, he might say that Robyn Lawley is beautiful, because she is, and really mean that too. But he doesn't mean the same thing when he uses the word in both cases.

A while ago, a beautiful (in the second sense of the word) fitness trainer named Maria Kang posted a picture of herself on Facebook with her children and the caption, "What's your excuse." This got her all sorts of hatred. One commenter wrote:
People like you who post pictures like this make me cry because without surgery I will never look like you.
That statement should be framed as a sort of koan for our times.

Here is the thing, even with plastic surgery, she couldn't look like Maria Kang. Most likely, she couldn't even get close to looking good enough that a dispassionate observer would even put her in the broader category of being not-so-hot-but-kinda-close-enough-that-they-might-evoke-Maria-Kang-by-way-of-comparison. I wonder, will that make her cry too?

She couldn't look like Robyn Lawley either. Nine hundred and ninety-four women out of a thousand couldn't look half as good as Robyn Lawley no matter how hard they tried. Robyn Lawley would be just as unhealthy a role model for most women as Kate Moss is.

The issue here is not physical health but mental health. There is a stage in every one's life when we look at pictures of stars and imagine that we could somehow become like that person; that we could somehow become beautiful in that sense. If you're mentally healthy, you'll grow out of it somewhere between the ages of 15 and 17.

Beautiful in the first sense from above is a reasonable goal. Meaning, you can, with serious effort, hope to be cute, pretty and sexually attractive to the world at large and beautiful to those who love you. If that isn't enough for you ...

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/23/4571683/hot-facebook-mom-after-week-of.html#storylink=cpy


  1. I dunno, seems to be just more of the eternal now and Sailer's Law writ large. All these neurotic bellyachers seem to forget that beauty doesn't last and you have to be ready with something else when it goes (even with surgery it won't last).

  2. Of course the media encourage all this, telling women how they "should" look and what beauty is. They still don't know its in the eye of the beholder, but I guess that doesn't sell papers ( or the virtual equivalent of papers).