Monday, June 8, 2009

easy breezy BEAUTIFUL

Dove here. This is my follow up to the now mildly infamous post by PagerStalker last week. I have loved the discussion his post sparked and it seems that whether readers agree with PS or not, his ideas have made all of us think, him included. He really liked and agreed with many of your arguments against him. His purpose really wasn't to persuade anyone or win any fights, rather to give you something to think about. That is one of the things that I hope this blog does is expand our minds (along with offering some occasional extreme shallowness).

So many great points on both sides. In the end I hope we all have an increased tolerance for differing viewpoints. I know I do. This discussion has rekindled in me some ideas about beauty that at one time were on the forefront of my mind. I used to teach anthropology at at university. Oh man, that was fun. Well, I learned some things through that experience that were fascinating. Bear with me while I bust out some anthro wisdom here.

To those who disputed PS's claim that what we are attracted to is biological, I've got news for you. There actually IS a strong biological component to attraction. For instance, all the stereotypical things men are attracted to in women (breasts, curves, full lips, nice hair, youth etc) happen to be indicators that a woman has an abundance of estrogen, which is an indicator of reproductive fitness. Evolutionarily speaking, beauty helps men identify women who will bear them large numbers of children and be able to take care of the children after birth, hence ensuring a perpetuation of the male's genes. (However, thanks to modern science, one can easily attain any of these features with enough money.)

Now, this doesn't mean that society doesn't have an influence on us. Certainly it does. PS and I discussed a fascinating social experiment wherein we travel to remote civilizations (or is this just a good excuse to act on my incurable case of wanderlust?) and show their inhabitants pictures of several women and see which women they select as beautiful. Would those nomadic Mongolians choose Pamela Anderson? Well, she's an extreme example and I would venture to guess that someone who hasn't been exposed to American culture would find her repulsive in her completely unnatural extremities.

Would they be more likely to find someone who was more in the range of what is typical for women?

This begs a different question that frequently tumbles around the cavity of my mind. What is beauty? Why is it defined so differently from culture to culture? Take for instance the neck rings women in Thailand wear...

Why in the world is this considered attractive?? Interestingly, these brass coils don't actually stretch the neck as many believe, they deform the collarbones by pushing them down. Click here to see video of how they do this.

Another seemingly nutty concept of beauty is small feet. You may have seen this in your inbox, I've received it a number of times.

See how her toes are bent around to the bottom of her foot.

Now, I wish my feet were more dainty for sure, but this seems a bit ridiculous.


You think about how the people in these other cultures might possibly think we are a little off our rockers in our ideas of beauty. Women are scrambling to have Botox (botulism...
poison) injected in their faces to make them look younger. (And for the record, it sounds dangerous and scary, but in reality it's very safe.)

Sandblasting our faces (microderm abrasion), willingly inviting deadly melanoma into our lives (tanning beds), burning our hair follicles (laser hair removal), surgically placing silicon bags under the muscle in our chests to make it
appear that we are uber-estrogenish. I think we are just as nutty, it just doesn't seem as bizarre to us because it is what we know. The Thai women with the neck rings don't see their traditions as barbaric either.

In the end, aren't we all just trying to display the fanciest feathers to attract the fanciest peacock? Isn't it all about mating rituals?

Well, I'll tell you what. I LOVE Mavis's post yesterday and that she is trying to implement more  shine in her marriage. When I was a little chickidee, my dad used to sit down with my sister and I and have these very serious talks with us. He would tell us that we would likely grow up to be lovely women, but that that was a gift and had NOTHING to do with us. Pure genetics. Then he would tell us to make sure that we are beautiful on the inside and treat others beautifully.

Werd to yer muther.

Whether we are pro-plastic or not, there is room for all of us in this world. I, personally, am okay with my imperfections. My body is not perfect and never will be. I think it would be a pretty boring world if we all had the means to have ourselves cosmetically sculpted to resemble some arbitrary ideal. It would be like driving through that Edward Scizzorhands neighborhood. Laaaaaame. BUT, because I'm working on my inner beauty, you can bet that I will be able to love someone with falsies or someone with a few hundy pounds to spare.

And this is the end, my only friend the end (that was to annoy all you Doors haters).

Love, Dove (what a cute ring that has)

Tomorrow is the last day to enter the Miss Ruby Sue giveaway found here.


mavis said...

The fact that you just called me out on being shallow proves that you are, in fact disgruntled with my kidnapping of your idea. I knew it!

Through the Looking Glass said...

I really like you, Dove. And Mavis, well she knows that she's my brotha from anotha motha.

I liked everything you said here. I've actually liked everything everyone's said in this dialogue because we all have such strong opinions forged from our own sense of right and wrong, beautiful and not, allowable and extreme. In the end, I couldn't agree more that it's all about inner beauty. I have three daughters; one of whom spent her first grade year being called "fat" four times because she has a little 6 year-old belly. It definitely hurt her, definitely made a chink. I love what Dove said her father taught them - that physical beauty is a gift, frosting, really. It's such a fragment of who we are as women.

That said, to some it is a very important fragment - one that contributes to their sense of self. I reckon few truly gorgeous women walk around thinking, "I could soooo do without all this beauty. Truly, I feel so good on the inside, God may as well take all this away tomorrow because I don't need it." We all want to be the "beautiful" defined in our head. I have no problem with women striving to attain that. But what I hope for myself, my daughters, is that they understand no matter what you try to do to enhance that beauty/ freeze time, in the end, life is about love and relationships. Those are things not exclusive to physically beautiful people.

Now, Dove, Mavis? When is the We Chirp Summit where we all meet at a restaurant and eat and talk about these things in person?

dove said...

Oh Amanda, you have reminded me of some things I wanted to write. Alas, another post for another day.

Your mind really intrigues me. It's so great at verbalizing things that exist in my brain, but I can never get out of it.

And there actually has been talk of a summit. Christy will be in the area this summer. Should we book out a spa???? Pedicures and Diet Cokes would greatly enhance the amazing dialogue that will surely take place...

Through the Looking Glass said...

Excellent - Spa Summit it is. Much more exciting than the G2 Summit or anything the UN can cook up. If I win the Sego Lily Spa contest, let's do it there. If I lose, we'll take our business elsewhere. Ha.

And thank you, Dove. I often verbalize too much, which leads me to think I should do a better job of keeping things safely tucked away in my brain versus out of my mouth. Oh well.

PagerStalker said...

Wait, breasts are considered extremities?

Jennifer Golden said...

Fabulous post!

dove said...

PS, sometimes I wish you were close by so I could slap you. ;)

Christy said...

I love all you guys and can't wait to meet you in person. YES - spa please. I have my airline tix - it's official!

What's the best hotel in SLC?!?!

Christy said...

Dove, I'm so sorry I got carried away and forgot to comment. I totally enjoyed reading your post (a couple of times over the last two days!) and I think it was awesome and very well written. I have one beef: I'm pretty sure the average woman is a bit larger than the size 2 or 4? Jennifer Love Hewitt. But I get your point. Thank god the average woman isn't Pam Anderson. God help us if that's ever the case. God, as in a euphemism, not Him above. Just sayin'.