Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Beauty is not skin deep ... for a man?

While waiting for tune-up on the old 250 horses that get me around, I read this wonderfully funny short story in my favorite magazine.  I literally--and I mean the literal--laughed out when I read "bringing an embarrassed flush to all four of her cheeks."

Those in a hurry and multitasking through their lives might completely miss such phrases when reading; oh, I forgot that most people have stopped reading such stuff anyway!

The guys--yes, the mechanics were all men--weren't done with the oil change, but I was done with the short story that ended with a "standing ovation."  I paid attention to the television that had been blaring all through those minutes that I was reading the fiction piece.  

It was a terrible sight on TV that I saw.  Sheer horror.  I could not believe that they would show such graphics on day time television.  What has the world come to!

Ok, calm down. Chill. I am exaggerating.  But there is a grain of truth there.  I saw Meg Ryan on TV. 

The Meg Ryan who was gorgeous as America's sweetheart not too long ago, and who aced that memorable scene, looked grotesque.  Cosmetic surgery gone awry for certain.  Maybe she went to some cheap joint in India ;)

Tom Hanks, with whom she made one of their notable movies, continues to go strong with his acting career and without any visible sign of any kind of a cosmetic surgery--and he is six years her senior.  He continues to heroically fly planes, and solve unsolvable mysteries, with his age being a non-issue.

Meg Ryan, meanwhile, walks around like a wax figurine that was placed a tad too close to the fireplace. 

I suppose this is what happens in a cultural context in which women have to look eternally young, while a man is allowed to gracefully age.  Now, as a man, I have no problems with how my baldness and grey hair supposedly add to my non-existent personality.  But, come on, what the bloody hell is wrong with us when we think that even a Meg Ryan should not age?

Of course, it is not merely the female celebrities.  We hoi polloi model our lives after the rich and the famous.  So, if a Meg Ryan cannot look like she has a few pounds on her, and with a few wrinkles on her face, then down on the ground floor you think Plain Jane is not feeling the pressure?
Each new year, women are encouraged to reduce — to measure out our lives in 55-minute barre classes and four-ounce servings of chicken breast, to adhere to the diet that we’re sure is going to work this time, even if none of the other diets worked any of the other times. Plastic surgeons run ads for injectable fillers, body contouring and laser skin resurfacing to stave off the inevitable.
It shouldn't be any surprise that the pressure on young women these days can be devastating.  With Facebook and Instagram and whatever else where they have to get their peers to approve their looks ... 
The unsparing gaze that social media train on girls’ sexuality—the supreme value that they place on being sexually appealing—engenders a widespread female anxiety about physical appearance that is highly conducive to “self-objectification,” Sales claims. All of her interview subjects agree that on sites like Instagram and Facebook, female popularity (as quantified by the number of “likes” a girl’s photos receive) depends on being deemed “hot.” “You have to have a perfect body and big butt,” a fifteen-year-old from the Bronx observes grimly. “For a girl, you have to be that certain way to get the boys’ attention.”
It is a mad, mad, mad world out there.  Maybe it will be better if I stopped looking at television screens at public places


Ramesh said...

We've argued on this before - I simply don't agree that a girl HAS to try to look beautiful.

So instead I will comment, with complete bafflement, why you need 250 horses to cart you to the neighbourhood store, or wherever else you go, carefully stopping for goslings on the way. Forget the women having to look beautiful - does a man have to show his manhood by making 250 horses do his work. Your country is the worst culprit of all - the concept of a small car does not exist. If I ever live in the US, I will drive a bright green Mini :)

Sriram Khé said...

Hey, in that sentence you put the horse before the cart ... muahahaha ;)

Again, you are commenting as if you personally have been accused and that you need to defend yourself. The post was not about our--yours nor mine--preferences, but about the socio-cultural context in which women live. I am with you that women, including Meg Ryan, do not *have* to try to beautify themselves. But, hello, what they do is mostly a result of the pressure that they feel.

Anne in Salem said...

Yes, Meg Ryan looks unnatural. She'd be far prettier if she had accepted what happens naturally.

Now a rare disagreement with Ramesh - to a degree. Teenage girls are surrounded by images - frequently airbrushed to appear "better" - purporting to show ideal beauty and implying beauty is most important. Raising strong girls who can resist that pressure, who see value in more than perfect skin and big backsides, who realize how little appearance actually matters, is no small feat. Sometimes the girls you least expect to be affected are most affected. And it is not a far leap into eating disorders. Interestingly, most girls would tell a friend, "Stop criticizing yourself, you look great" for the exact same feeling they harbor about themselves.

As I grew up before the internet, I celebrate my grey hairs. I've earned every one of them. And I'll never plump my smile lines. I'd hate to look like I never smiled! Real faces have character, and that character is beautiful.

Sriram, the bald spot is 10000X better than a comb-over.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, I am so glad and thankful that I am not a young girl/woman in these times of intense pressure from all around.

The facial cosmetic surgery on older women--I mean like 70 and more--looks even more bizarre when the smooth face is such a contrast to the naturally wrinkled and weathered arms. I understand that it is different strokes for different folks, but it is one thing to want it just because versus having something done because of the pressure ...

The comb-over is godawful. When McCain was a candidate, back in the 2000 primaries, my joke was that he was losing the GOP women vote because of his comb-over ;) Turns out that he is a total wimp who so easily yielded to Trump's awfulness! No wonder he does a comb-over!!!

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