You Are So Beautiful to Me

I am flummoxed by the current definitions of beauty. For women, is it people with defined biceps and thigh gap, or people with more voluptuous physiques? Are men supposed to look like the letter Y, with broad shoulders and narrow hips? Personally, I hope we all decide that human-shaped is just fine.

While we might all intellectually agree that beauty is defined by the cultures in which we live, my own culture’s definition could use a rewrite. Even before Photoshop, it was a little difficult for me to entertain the notion that I had to look like the person in the magazine to be considered pretty. Models have an entirely different build than most other people. They’re not necessarily any prettier; they serve as moving hangars that feature the clothes, cosmetics, and products companies are trying to sell. That smexy, smoldery look of many a fashion spread is a combination of light and shadow, good photography and cosmetics. I won’t say models aren’t pretty and all, I just think it doesn’t hurt to have both a certain “look” and a team of professionals buffing, polishing, and air-brushing the “flaws” away.

In real life, people can and should look like people. Women are built to be squishy in some areas. That’s not something that needs to be liposucked away. It’s life. I love a certain online clothing retailer because it proudly features clothes for women from a size 00 to a size XXL. Oftentimes, the clothes are the same. I see rail-thin women showcasing the same swimsuit as their full-sized modeling partners, and they all look wonderful. Yes, there is air-brushing and cosmetics at work, but it doesn’t appear as though anyone has had their size distorted through the magic of Photoshop.

Is it just me or are we paying way too much attention to how the women look? How come men aren’t obsessing about whether their thighs touch? Given a very brief scan of Google, I couldn’t find a quick data blurb that gave me a ratio of how much women’s beauty magazines outnumber men’s manly-magazines, but a scan at the local bookstore suggests it’s pretty hefty (I’m factoring out special interest magazines here). There are more women’s magazines telling women how to be pretty (usually by buying stuff) than there would appear to be men’s magazines telling them how to be handsome. Hmmmmm, think there’s something to this? I do.

I don’t want to go all “Love yourself and you’ll be beautiful,” but loving yourself for who you are is usually healthier than wanting to look like someone you’re not. I have no objection to fashion, shoes, cosmetics, and so forth. I wear clothes, buy shoes, and wear makeup. If you want to get your wrinkles Botoxed or your eyeliner permanently tattooed on, ouch, but do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt you in the process.

I do, however, think it’s far better to engage in that whole eating right/active lifestyle deal I hear so much about. I am not the posterperson of healthy eating and exercise awesomeness. I think I am better about the exercise than the healthy eating. I admit freely to having a relationship with chocolate that I’m not in any hurry to correct. At least it’s usually dark chocolate, I tell myself.

I am betting by now that people are wondering what I look like. Am I some emo person who wears all black and decries fashion? Do I weigh more than my couch? Have I liposucked the fat out of my stomach or thighs? In order: Nope. No, and Not in This Lifetime. I am not going to win any beauty contests, but I also don’t scare children. I am trying to be the most “beautiful” me I can by eating relatively well and exercising relatively often. More importantly, I am trying to be a beautiful me by living with dignity, honesty, and a giggle or two. My beauty quotient in that regard changes daily.

In other words, I’m a work in progress. So are we all. That is kind of beautiful.

*Tip o’ the hat to Joe Cocker for the title.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bob Grumbine
    Mar 02, 2015 @ 15:02:13

    I’ll leave it to your superior music memory to find the band, but (early 70s?) song “Everybody’s Beautiful (in their own way)” Which, of course you and my niece and nephew are. Your brother, on the other hand … stretches the song a bit 🙂 But my wife is pleased, and that more than suffices.

    I forget all the details at this point, but someone looked in to, let’s call it body image discrepancy. Namely, what fraction of boys/girls, men/women (in particular age range) were displeased with their shape. As you’d guess, for women, there’s been a growing discrepancy, and it started a good century ago. A century back, and for decades thereafter, there was little or none among the men. But, starting about 1980, the men started to track upward in their dissatisfaction along with the women. Rates aren’t as bad among men as women, but nontrivial.

    For sources, well, you can’t look to men’s magazines as there are almost none, and the “men’s” men’s magazines mostly show pictures of women. So I’ll point instead to cartoons (ex: He-Man, contemporary with the divergence for men), and movies, pushing the Y men version. Maybe throw in pseudo-wrestling. But a lot of convergence on the steroid-abusing gym-rat figure as being what men ‘should’ look like. Hence even by 1985 (when I visited LA), men getting calf and pec implants. (And these days, abusing steroids.)

    More mystifying to me is how and when it became forbidden for men to have chest hair. Early 80s, it was more a matter of if the actor had hair, the character did (ex: Magnum, PI). Now, it seems mandatory to be hairless on TV and movies. The better to show off the pecs, I guess.

    Not as bad as things are for women, wrt how they’re ‘supposed’ to look. But it isn’t the piece of cake for men that it used to be. But at least in matters of clothing, we (men) still don’t need to pay much attention, as long as the bits are covered.



    • alwaysliz
      Mar 02, 2015 @ 16:25:55

      Bob, thanks for the thoughtful comments. While the emphasis of my ramblings concerned women, I definitely nod at the ridiculous standards wrt men as well. I won’t bother to comment on fashion fads, male or female because they really are silly. Adorning the person and adding color/ink to the self is a choice, a method of expression, as if the human form is the palette onto which they are painting a story, whatever that story might be. When people use commercial standards as the benchmark for how they view themselves, though, I go into protective Auntie mode, whether or not I’m related to the person 🙂



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