14 June, 2009

Pretty Little Ana

Much can be said about the aesthetics of beauty, but it seems that there are two main camps when it comes to the issue of the ideal female form (at least as far as sexual attraction is concerned): it's either thin, or curvy. Not to say that you can't appreciate both, or even that the two are mutually exclusive, but it seems natural to have a preference for one over the other. It seems to be the popular understanding, at least through the lens of classical art, that the more full-figured, voluptuous woman was revered in days long past; whereas today, with the whole glamour industry as it is, the thin look seems to be in vogue. That is, if we ignore the recent backlash I've been witnessing.

I suppose one could argue that the fuller look is generally healthier and more natural (when not overdone), but it would be rather foolish to presume that thinness itself is inherently unhealthy or unnatural. Of course, it's true that there's a lot of pressure on women in this age to conform to society's image of beauty - unfortunately epitomized by the impossible perfection of magazine models (at times photoshopped even beyond recognition) - to the point of creating something of an epidemic of poor body image, and resulting in some women turning to extreme methods to pursue beauty at the cost of ruining their bodies (e.g., eating disorders).

But the thing that bugs me is when people take this anti-thin stance too far. The fact is, excessive curviness leads toward obesity, which is not healthy, just as excessive thinness leads toward malnutrition, also not healthy. Assuming that all thin people are malnourished is no better than calling anyone that has a few curves obese. So when I hear somebody tell an attractive model to eat a sandwich (or, often times, a cheeseburger - or three), it bugs me. When somebody says, "girl, you are skinny, I hope you're eating," to me it sounds rude. On the one hand, the comment seems to vaguely come from a place of concern, but it gives off the impression that being skinny is a bad thing, something that needs to be fixed. If body acceptance is the victory towards which we are fighting, we need to accept that being thin is okay, too.

Honestly, from what I've seen, I get the impression that some people are deathly afraid of human ribs. What doesn't make sense to me is why being able to see a person's ribs means that that person is underfed. Most people's ribs - who aren't obese - become visible simply by arching one's back and sucking in the stomach. Doesn't mean they aren't eating. The effect is just a bit more prominent on thinner people. I think the "skeletal" look is disgusting just as much as anyone else, and yet, personally, I think seeing ribs on a healthy person can be incredibly sexy:

So I tend to push the pro-thin stance a little hard at times. It's not that I actually support, for example, a damaging disorder like anorexia, but I've gotta make my point - that thin is beautiful.

You know, beauty is a complicated thing. We all want to believe that we're beautiful, but everybody's standards are different, and while we all (thinking optimistically) have our beautiful points, physical or otherwise, we can't all be beautiful to all people at all times. I think that's part of what body acceptance, and self-acceptance in general, is about. Not just acknowledging our good qualities, but accepting our limits as well.

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