Saturday, February 04, 2006

In lieu of creating any content of my own, may I direct you to a wonderfully nuanced piece on cosmetic surgery addicts and the beauty myth by Piny of Feministe.

At which point does society judge women to have 'crossed the line' in the pursuit of an impossible beauty standard, a pursuit which society relentlessly demands of women? We shower our Botoxed actresses with admiration, box office power, and Oscars, but heaven be damned should you turn into a Jocelyn Wildenstein in your use of cosmetic surgery! We ogle the prepubescent bodies of size 0 starlets, but watch us condemn Mary-Kate's anorexia! Or, more accurately, watch us look on with morbid fascination, through the faux-earnest People magazine articles that mime concern in a most disingenuous way.

Does condemning these women as their own one-woman freak shows absolve society's responsibility in maintaining the ridiculous beauty standards that inspire such extreme behaviours in the first place? It's the same old "damned if we do, damned if we don't" standard for women. And for feminists, I think this is a great example of one of the most central questions we must keep asking ourselves: how do we as feminists condemn problematic behaviours without falling into the same bullshit that patriarchy so gets off on - condemning and blaming the women themselves for those behaviours? With the added qualification, of course, that we want to acknowledge the societal pressures exerted on women without infantilising women or ignoring the agency women hold over (at least some of) our choices.

How do we do that? Not at all a novel question of course, but it is one that I keep trying to remind myself of, both in my own decisions and in thinking about how I can best support other women.


Anonymous Sheena said...

Hi Anais,

I like your post. I also read the Comments in the discussion you linked to, and somehow some of them don't surprise me. Just because Ann Coulter is a dipshit doesn't mean we have to be dipshits when we discuss her. (Not that everyone was - it's just a reminder that some progressives tend to show their sexism when duscussing her.)


11:17 PM  

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