Does ‘beauty’ destroy a woman’s individuality?
We must suffer to be beautiful.
Hans Christian Anderson, The Little Mermaid, apparently misquoted
When I was growing up, grownup women wore high heels. From pumps to spikes, that’s what women wore when they were being “official” women – at work, out on the town, trying to look what society expected. They also tweezed their brows out of existence and wore their makeup masks so that by the time they were done, no trace of the original woman remained – only a homogenous mask that made them look like every other woman. Individuality? Character? That was for men. Only a bland continuum of socially defined “beauty” remained.
It’s not so different now. I know I irritate the tar out of people (the job hazard of the opinionated) who think I’m being ridiculous, but frankly, high heels, plucked brows and makeup masks creep me out.
Have you ever seen an exhibit of the shoes Chinese women wore on their poor bound feet? Go out and look it up and see if they look eerily familiar to you (http://www.footwearhistory.com/lotus.shtml). Do they? They ought to. Many of our modern high heels look just like them, only larger. I kid you not.
High heels damage women’s feet. A recent study (http://www.rnoh.nhs.uk/home/news/3d-foot-scanner-rnoh-transforming-diagnosis-and-treatment) shows just what incredible harm they do to a woman’s foot, but there’s more! Achilles tendon surgery anyone? (http://www.livescience.com/10738-high-heels-reshape-leg-muscles-create-pain-worn.html). Keep digging. It gets worse.
This is science, but for me, this was just the springboard for more thought on the matter. Ever been impressed by women who can actually run in heels? I’ve sure been. Walking in them is hard enough. Walk behind a woman in sky-high spikes and watch her ankles wobble back and forth. Her tush stuck out and her back arched, she is forced out of a natural gait. Now imagine she’s being chased by someone with evil intentions. Imagine she’s trying to get away from a rapist.
Seems to me that high heels are a rapist’s dream come true. Here’s a victim with no chance of escape. Oh. Goody.
Tell me, anybody, why aren’t shoes that actually take care of women’s feet, that a woman can walk with her body in a normal conformation, that give her a chance of escape the norm? Why is it that the height of sexiness in footware includes bodily harm, physical contortion and an inability to escape a predator? What the hell does this say about society’s view of women when footware is designed to pander to the concept of women as prey? You don’t think so? Start at the beginning of this column and read again.
Add to that eradicating the original character of a woman’s face by destroying her eyebrows (for a delightfully creepy view of a whole bunch of familiar faces with eyebrows photoshopped out: http://celebswithnoeyebrows.com/), the required application of a veritable mask of makeup that remakes a woman’s face from the ground up (http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/stars-makeup-real-face-fame-gallery-1.21019) and you create someone who cannot properly walk, looks as much like a standard version of societally defined female “beauty” as possible and wears a layer of goop to prevent anything of her actual character from showing through.
While a few sad men are starting to do this to themselves (look up “manscaping”), for the most part, men are supposed to look like who and what they are, and also to wear shoes that allow them to move naturally. They aren’t supposed to look like characterless “fuckables” (pardon the language, but that’s the intent) who are constantly in heat and thus available, or natural victims who haven’t a thought in their lobotomized heads.
And we wonder why we aren’t taken seriously? We question why Hillary Clinton (who follows all the social rules for women’s appearance except for her eyebrows, which are shaped, not deleted) has her appearance savaged by critics when a male politician is pummeled for his politics? In fact, if you look at pictures of women with power, you will notice that the great majority of them have retained as much of their facial character as they can get away with without drawing the savagery of the female-looks police. Yup, they have real eyebrows. Not sperm brows. Not ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Surprise.’ Not a Bozo brow among them.
I’m not saying not to have fun. Pull those stray hairs if they drive you nuts. Wear makeup for the fun of it. But don’t destroy your entire facial character. Don’t feel like you can’t step out your door unless you have your full war paint on. And don’t wear shoes that ensure that you won’t be able to walk naturally without surgery – or get away from a rapist. After all, look at the philosophy behind the bindng of women’s feet. Are you comfortable with that? And do you think there’s really that much difference between that philosophy and those miserable looking shoes that are touted as the height of “cuteness” and “style?” I guarantee you that if you take off your socially-indoctrinated lenses and look at them with a view as to what they mean and what they do to women’s bodies, they won’t look nearly as cute.
One of my favorite bumper stickers is “Subvert the Dominant Paradigm.” So can we please redefine the paradigm of women’s beauty to something that doesn’t punish women for refusing to eradicate their individuality, wear footwear that turns us into crippled victims and force us to put on a faceful of paint that turns us into everywoman and no-woman-at-all?
Reclaiming our power does require reclaiming ourselves, after all.