Reflections… socially constructed ideas of ‘beauty’

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I am reposting my reply from comments in my last blog post  because I think it is important and  continues this conversation…

My work on body image has always been about a universal dialogue. While I may use myself as a subject, I am discussing issues of feminism and female representation that have been going on for years and years. I am just using my work and myself to keep the dialogue going. I didn’t mean for this post to sound like it was a jab at my own self esteem and self confidence. It is definitely not that. I feel I have more confidence in myself now than ever before. These are more observations and examples that I am using to continue this dialogue about women’s roles and representation in society.

I am pretty content with who I am right now. I am happy wearing jeans and sweatshirts one day and a dress and pink wig the next. While I talk about dating sites and men not ‘falling’ at my feet, I mean it more generally. I actually don’t want men to fall at my feet. I am pretty happy in my life being single. I have dated enough to know what I want and don’t want, and I am content in the place I am in now. I love where I am. I am not lonely because I have amazing friends, both men and women who I see and hang out with regularly and who keep me on my toes. I have tried dating sites because I thought that was what I wanted, it took the boredom and meat market mentality to realize, that that is not what I want.

I guess when writing this post, I should not written it in the first person, but in the third. Sometimes my thoughts just get the best of me and I use this blog as more a stream of consciousness sketchbook. I struggle with the universal way women are and have been represented on a daily basis. How they represent themselves as well as how they are represented by the media and culture, AND how men see women.

I will say this, I DO NOT believe that women have to be traditionally beautiful on the outside to match who they are in the inside. I believe, like so many friends have commented over the years, that inner beauty projects and is reflected on the outside. Plus, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I am beautiful though not in the traditional ideal way that society has perceived. I believe my inner beauty does get reflected in my smile, my eyes, my confidence and my heart. BUT in today’s visual culture, that isn’t enough for some.

Please understand, I know there are a lot of men who can look past what the media has deemed is the ideal for femininity and attractiveness. BUT as the media continues to use that ideal in Advertising and TV shows and movies, etc, both men and women are at risk of falling down the rabbit hole of ideal representation.

I also wanted to just mention the idea of labels. What is feminine and masculine anymore anyway? They are labels to keep people in certain categories. In today’s society these labels, these lines are being blurred more and more. There is no black and white. With postmodernism came the deconstruction of these words, these categories. (Thank you Betty Brown!!) It is only because the media (and society) continue to project these black and white labels our culture is still tethered to this way of thinking.

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