Well, the furious (by the standards of this blog) commenting on the previous post led to much thinking on beauty, and masculine beauty, and lots of other things. And ever notice how sometimes everything you read and watch and hear seems to tie up neatly with what you’re thinking? Well, that happened too.
It wasn’t just On Beauty, but also Guess who’s coming to Dinner and an article in yesterday’s Times of India and then a conversation with Daddy Long Legs. And, of course, the furious commenting on the last post.
So, beauty is definitely about attractiveness. So what makes men attractive? Blr Bytes pointed to a link that said it had something to do with evolutionary theory – characteristics associated with strength and all that. And Mr. Nair points me to an article about changing standards of male beauty. Clark Gable was attractive because he radiated sexual aggressiveness, present-day male movie stars are much more passive, it says.
So, masculine beauty. Again, a lot of ‘norms’. Much more activity-oriented, though. Strength, for example. Sexual predatoriness, or a lack thereof. And these are supposed to be linked to the ability to survive/procreate. But I really doubt that.
First, if the idea of beauty is linked to the ability to survive/procreate – sort of aiding the process of natural selection – then how come it is still linked to the ability to survive in forests and primitive civilisations: strength, predatoriness, et al? Hasn’t it evolved at all?
Second, how do you explain the fetish with slimness? For women, I mean. Surely, large hips and pelvises should be more beautiful than anorexically thin figures?
And third, how come men have to survive and women have to procreate? I mean, why isn’t strength beautiful in women? And what are the outward characterisitcs to judge whether men are fertile (virile?!)?
In any case, my proposition from the previous post continues to hold good: the moral authority to determine what is ‘beautiful’ lies primarily with the person whose beauty is being assessed. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder only in the case of objects, things. Not in the case of persons, people.
And that brings us to ‘objectification’ – when the norms are set by the beholder, we are objectifying: whether it is John Abraham or Bipasha Basu, Clark Gable or Katharine Hepburn. So we expect them to measure up to an invisible standard (She’s so fat in that movie but-of-course-not-as-fat-as-me-but-I’m-not-fat-really) and make that invisible object-standard a norm for actual, real human beings.
Self-loathing, of course, results.
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