Paper planes

A bunch of paper’s gone flying today, and I can’t call it back. There’s this terrible feeling that this was a BIG BIG BIG mistake, but now I can’t do anything about it. What’s worse, I have to carry it through and finish it!

I bought Dad On Beauty for his birthday, and as usual, finished reading it before he’s gotten round to it. There’s a point in the book where a mother is wondering how her daughter’s turned out the way she has, and she thinks something to the effect that she’d tried so hard to protect her from self-loathing, from the images that magazines and movies pushed down teenagers’ throats, but it seems to permeate the very air… I wish I could find the passage, but I’m feeling too lazy to go look.

It struck a chord, somehow. Reminded me of my mother. Thank God? There are times when I don’t, but most of the time I do. Whether it was her, or the fact that I studied at an all-residential Uni, or my sensible bunch of friends, I think I am reasonably safe from that self-loathing.

Yeah, only reasonably safe. There are times when I’m tempted to punish my body to match up to something I see, but thankfully, they’re fleeting!

And now I have a chance to explain my stand on ‘looks’. ‘Feminist’ doesn’t mean I have to be against feminine beauty, or even feminine beauty as defined by ‘predominantly male social norms’, but I’ve always found it difficult to explain this.

I find beauty in many things ‘feminine’: the curl of an eyelash, a dangling earring, tossing hair, the curve of a waist. A loud, confident laugh, the flushing of a face when angry: these may not be what come to mind when you say ‘feminine’, but I think they’re more beautiful in women than in men.

So my problem is not with the norms of beauty themselves, it is with the idea that (only?) men can set them. I agree with some of the norms, so I’m asked what it matters who set them. Well, I suppose I have a moral authority to set the norms, since it’s my body we’re talking about. And a norm, whoever’s set it, that leads to self-loathing, has no moral authority at all.

I can just hear you going “Norm who?” Shut up.

I wonder what the norms for masculine beauty are, though. Anyone have an idea? 


5 Responses

  1. (Chuckle) Were you a fan?

    “It’s likely that if he were to stroll into a casting agent’s office now, Clark Gable would probably be told to go get himself a body, put in some pouting practice and stop acting his age. The current unprecedented era of male body worship has meant that every bit-part player or soap star has to have a body ripped to within an inch of his life, a body that he has to unveil at the drop of the smallest hat.”

  2. huh?

    whats this awaiting moderation bizness?

  3. Post went away from title?

    But I like the idea of norms. Is nice.

  4. Well, so physical strength, huh? I was thinking about my own question, and the cliches that hit were the ‘line of the jaw, the V of the torso’ type, and I found that I didn’t agree with a single one of the pop culture norms of male beauty (not to mean I don’t find George Clooney incredibly hot, strangely enough!).


    This needs a fresh post.

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