Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why women will never be good enough...

...for themselves.

If you've been here before- welcome back! If you haven't, here's a quick synopsis of me: I've been around the world one too many times, seen the high life and the gutter, struggled with depression, self loathing, and occasionally liking myself; and along the way I've fucked an inordinate amount of attractive women.

I say that to say this- every one of them, whether a professional model or a regular everyday hot girl from around the corner, felt the way they looked was somehow lacking. Not to me, but internally...in their own experience of being them.

They were confused by this, and sometimes angry. And quite a lot of the time, they would blame men. Men want big tits, or long hair, or...whatever it is that they thought men wanted. I won't delve into the effect porn can have on womens self-esteem here, that's for another night.

And it upset them to think they could never compete with all the images they were inundated with every day. Billboards, TV shows, and...well, the trashy magazines they would bring home against my advice and their better judgement..

The trashy magazines that women put together for other women. No need to name names (all of them do it). The ones that don't make you feel better when you read them, but much, much worse. The ones that contradict themselves within the same paragraph, the ones that titillate with insider scoops on celebrities (always from "a close friend" or "source", never from an actual person that exists and can be held accountable). These magazines are paid for by advertising dollars, and it's cosmetic companies and the rag trade that foot the bill. It's not 'men' and the expectations thereof that hold womens self-esteem to ransom, it's the free market economy, loopholes in consumer protection laws, and a total lack of education as to what those loopholes are, and how to see through them.

We know, and have known for years, that these business interests will lie to the maximum extent allowable by law to sell you some snake oil. But what hit me the other evening was the fact that most women have no idea the extent they are being lied to.

I ran into my ex girlfriend, who was visibly upset. And after a little gentle questioning it became apparent that this young woman, who is so popular she has several fan clubs, each with membership running into the thousands; this woman who is so beautiful most of my male friends have either commented on it or gone coy when she walks by; this incredible force of positive energy and unique natural beauty, was in deep emotional pain, because she felt she simply doesn't measure up to what she perceived to be the yardstick for physical attractiveness.

Somehow not attractive?

She feels the weight of celebrity, of public expectation, of competition with the Kardashians of this world, or celebrity girlfriends, or movie stars. And she has fear that because she sees herself the way she does, the public at large won't support her quest to be the singer she has always dreamed of being.

I tried to explain that the features she despises about herself (because they don't fit the stereotypical norm of what feminine beauty is) are what attracted me before I had the chance to talk and get to know her, and that those looks have far from held her back so far, but it didn't help. I tried to explain that there are many beauties within beauty, and that in the Venn diagram of attractiveness, hers was a valid set with a very large intersection. Still no luck, and I thought chicks dig maths?

Then I remembered something I saw on YouTube years ago, and I looked it up. It was a short video made by Dove (who sell snake oil using a more realistic model roster), showing how photoshop transforms the sometimes average into stunning beauty. I did a design degree once upon a time, and I clearly remember the tricks I learned, and the methods employed by every beauty editor on planet Earth.

I also remember another ex girlfriend (aren't I a winner!?), who shared pictures from her modelling portfolio with me, that she had done for a swimwear company. I can't link to the pictures because she does not in any way like me, and because those images are the intellectual property of people who aren't you or me. In these pictures, the model was stretched and elongated to lengths unattainable without a computer or a medieval torture device, the crazy fact being, this girl was already so tall and thin every time we went out in public, women would ask her if she was a model. She didn't need improving, she was already at the top of the ladder. But they took that body, and turned it into something even a pro model could never attain.

My ex was shocked and amazed, and I wished I thought of the YouTube fix first.

The reason she was so down is because she was fixated on attaining a standard that simply doesn't exist. Now I'm not saying there aren't naturally attractive women (or girls usually) that are about as perfect as you can get (according to the current concept of what's hot nowadays), but they are rare. So rare. And because they are, there's no need to be upset if you don't look like that, because it is actually a statistical aberration, and an actual physical mutation that left them looking so skinny, clear skinned, wide-eyed, and whatever else is in right now.

But print media and movies and whoever else make out like it isn't rare, and that everybody famous looks that way.

They don't. They really don't. Katy Perry is cute in real life. But she does not look like her publicity shots or videos. She is actually a human being from the same planet we're on right now.

*Cue blown minds.

And I couldn't believe my ex didn't know already, the extent images are massaged and manipulated. Doesn't everyone? Apparently not. I thought the fact that we could CGI big hairy monsters that look real into movies now, or make Brad Pitt age in reverse, that people would just cotton on the the fact it's all done in computers.

So I have embedded a bunch of videos at the end of this post, and you can see just how magical the spells can be. Some are better than others, but the top 2 are required viewing.

Remember when MySpace came out? Remember the 'Myspace angle'? This photographic technique swept social media like an STD on crack, and the general idea of it was so (let's be honest) overweight and lonely girls could get attention on te interwebz.

...this was the photographic equivalent of bios on dating sites, that regularly report users to be more active and attractive than they really are. Just like the MP3 freed music for mass storage and easy transfer, Photoshop/Myspace angles made everyday people look a lot more glamorous than they really were, and put the tools of the fashion editor/ad guru in the hands of the hoi polloi.

It had another interesting effect: It showed how much people lie because they hate themselves. It showed how many lonely people out there wanted to play the game too. In an age when your next door neighbour can become a reality TV superstar, and you wonder why it couldn't be you, people feel for the first time like they have a right to be a celebrity. So the kids all became media whores/masters of manipulation, and a fat girl in Alaska with no friends suddenly had 500,000 guys in California all wanting to bang her, requesting her ASL on MSN.

There were/are so many miserable people who just want to belong, and to be thought of as attractive. So they used the tools of oppression employed by big media, and instead of emancipating themselves, dug themselves a hole they can never climb out of (before they graduate fat camp).

So there's the fence with 2 sides- those that have an agenda and manipulate the tools, and those that have no idea just how pervasive the tools are.

All I can say is (for some reason there are a lot of people that listen to me on here, and take my zany advice), in the words of Jessie J, "Just be proud of who you are...", or, in the words of Xzibit "We all different types of meat, but we all smothered in the same sauce." Maybe that last quote wasn't really appropriate. What I'm trying to say is, take it easy on yourself, and if someone loves you, don't continually wish you could be somebody else. If you want to 'improve' yourself/get fit/learn Spanish/Zumba/whatevz, go ahead.

But I bet there is something beautiful within every single one of you. And if there isn't?

It's never too late to start...

This one is in German, but don't let that put you off...watch to the end!

Here's some Danzig- just because...

This is knifey, from 'the internet'.


John W said...

Mate as an old friend of the first ex you mention (in the photos) I can see what you're talking about, a beautiful girl that one, caught in the modern world search for unobtainable perfection!

As a Nurse who works on a paediatric ward I can tell you that the damage that this stuff does to young girls and women is terrible! There's boys and men too, but to the tune of about 10% the amount compared to females! The consequences of eating disorders runs further than skin deep, it leads to cardiac issues, low bone density, intestinal problems, liver disfunction, kidney damage, possible brain damage and possibly an early death. All from not eating enough food! And these problems aren't like they are for fat people! Cardiac issues from obesity tend to cause an issue in your 30's or 40's, eating disorders cause heart attacks in your teens! Obesity over the years will kill you! Being too skinny can kill you within months! And it's more than just physical, as the nutritionist in the first video you posted says, the mental health issues experienced are just, for lack of a better word, crazy!

Some of the stuff I've come across so far on a paediatric ward that treats under 18's with eating disorders: hiding food anywhere possible (bed, underwear, socks, down a bra!), hiding heavy items in undies and "body cavities" to increase weight artificially on "weigh days" (aiming for weight increases of course!), making "Skinny Diaries" from pictures out of trashy mags, giving their "Anorexia Voice" a name (in one case it was called dexter! Her dark traveller, like in the tv show/books!), drug abuse because the drugs stopped hunger, exercising in unusual ways (fake shivering, hovering over the toilet seat in a squat, doing squats in the shower, "bridging" in bed with only shoulder blades and heels touching the mattress).

All in all a horrible state of affairs for todays society because most of these girls are already very attractive but they don't see it, for what reason varies from person to person bust mostly self-esteem issues cause by societal views!

Anyway, good on you for writing about it, the more people that "get it" the better!

Anonymous said...

Thanks K for a post that supports and is positive towards "real" women, although your ex was way above average!!

Us women, we know about this stuff...and we don't. Some kind of sick denial. Gosh our minds are soooo weak to think those magazine photo shoots for fashion and celebrity shots are real. We know it and we don't....or maybe we just deny it because we want to conform to the media ideal...and celebrity ideal.

I'm 45 and would love to eat like most people. I can't because I stuffed up my metabolism as a 15 yo girl who thought at 175 cm a size 8 was too big so I nearly stopped eating, I only consumed 800 calories max/day, often less...my body is forever now in starvation mode and I pack it on if I consume anywhere above 1600 calories/day (and that's with a good amount of exercise). The real issue was that I wasn't happy with my shape - hour glass. God forbid I didn't have a boys figure like all those models. No, I had hips and boobs...I still have hips and boobs..but media dictates we should be stick thin and shapeless. I'm a size 14 these days (and stuggling, I love food)...and still wish I was thinner. Why is it my logical brain (and it is mostly logical) can't overcome this unrealistic ideal?

P.s nice to see all the recent blogs...I've been missing them.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what more to say, but thank you for writing this post. it's so refreshing to know that there are men out there that not only understand the issues of body image and women, but can explain it to them as well! The katy perry photo really did blow my mind...