Monday, January 17, 2011


"She was built with curves like the hull of a racing yacht."
- Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises.

The international personal care brand, Dove, exhorts us to "talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does".

What about our sons?

Aren't they exposed to the same relentless barrage of visuals, where buxom women cavort in skimpy clothes, flaunting bodies that are heavily toned and tanned, aiming to be 'hot' and 'sexy'?

If our daughters are going to base their lives on looking like the plastic, made-up women they see on screen and in glossy pictures, it's because they believe that our sons are going to only want women who look like that. And our sons are going to only want women like that because they see the beefed-up men on screen get women like that, based solely on looks and nothing else. The existing notion, that is getting perpetuated to dangerous levels, is that the pinnacle of womanhood is a lissome twenty-something with great hair who wears a lot of make-up, has large round breasts, an ass that curves like the headlamps on a sixties' racing car and a waist that is small enough to wrap your hands twice around. And her mid-riff needs to be as flat as a washboard.

It's a very Barbie-doll kind of image that is not only impossible to maintain, it's pointless. It's little wonder then that the man who married today's twenty-something hottie is shopping for another twenty-something hottie twenty years later, once the first one's looks change. It's because he's lusting after the physical evidence of the woman, the notion of the 'perfect woman' that is advertised in visual media. The sad part is that the man's actions are not frowned upon by society, but rather, they are celebrated as 'a second coming', 'a fresh lease of life', 'a rediscovery of youth'. And there is the added bonus of becoming a better-looking couple, no matter if the two can't maintain a conversation beyond the weather and beauty products.

I don't prefer women like that. Women do not exist in straight lines - they are not stick figures. They are discovered in their curves; they are 3-dimensional, they have depth. I don't want women who aspire to look like any of today's actresses or models - women with flat, shiny tummies and skin stretched tight across it. What am I going to hold on to? I don't want to make love to a rock with my hands slipping and sliding off its surface.

I prefer a woman who is comfortable with who she is in her skin, yet makes an effort to take care of her body, mind and soul. A woman who is real and who lives in the real world, not some plastic piece-of-work who lives for ten-second flashes.

The propaganda we receive everyday is incessant and false. Our sons need to be spoken to as much as our daughters, because when they get into relationships and get married, it is with each other. Both of them are involved equally.

No comments: