There has always been this strange idea of what the "beauty ideal" is in our society. I think, in the realm of art, that this is a pretty broad thing - beauty can be seen in line quality, curves, shapes but that is a bit abstract and a digression, I know. But talking specifically about female beauty, I believe that it comes from within and reflects back in the person's eyes, stature, smile - a level of confidence, a gentleness and grace. Sometimes, it's something you can't describe in words but just feel.
Still, after I don't know how many years, many women are still deemed beautiful only if they look like something unnatural and superficial; a very small waist, but accentuated with round hips, buttocks and breasts that can only exist if the rest of the body was round and curvy. There are also the large, almost soulless, eyes and lips, small nose and chin..I am sure those of you reading this understand what I mean. There is lots of art depicting this, too, which seems to have influence. What other factor seems to complete the equation is that of age, but more on that in a moment.
My initial issue that I had in my life was that of my body. I have always struggled with weight and at two separate times in my life, weighed over 300 pounds. I was publicly bullied, ridiculed and abused by many for years. Obesity, in the public eye, is/was not only looked at as a health-related problem, but a social one - fat women were not beautiful. Things have changed today, views have shifted with bigger women becoming more accepted as beautiful, however, age is still a factor there. Curvaceous women in their 20's and 30s are still firm in places and their skin is still smooth, or at least Adobe Photoshop corrects that in photos.
And with age and me lies the latest "issue". I am putting that word here in quotes because it's a dichotomy. As I get older, I look at the changes in me. From weight loss, first but of course from age, my body sags, wrinkles and has a mind of its own at times. My face is showing signs of bags/wrinkles around the eyes, the beginnings of a wrinkled chin and the oh-so-famous extra bit of skin that hangs under the neck. At first, I sighed and shuddered at the thought this is finally beginning to happen to me, however, as I look at how happy I am with my life and that I am proud to have certain wisdoms (and a handy bottle of hair dye for now), I am more than ok with the way I begin to age.
Which brings me back to the original motivation for this post. If you have been following my blog here or are on Facebook, you have seen me advertise some of my more commercial self-portraits for sale via RedBubble. On Facebook, I belong to certain art groups and sometimes I shamelessly plug myself. Today, I posted this photo, on which someone, a female by the way, commented, "Good picture but if you held head differently it would eliminate the turkey neck which you dont see on any pre-raphaelite art..the hair and dress colour looks fantastic though."
So, it is not one person's view, and of me, that upsets and angers me. It's what this person represents that does. I realize that there is no real solution and that people will always have their opinions, which is fine. However, I do feel that teaching and showing everyone that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and ages in the media, in songs, and everywhere else that society clings to is necessary and needs to become more aggressive. In addition, YOUNG girls must be shown and these things and help them to be able to accept themselves, be happy and look in the mirror and see how beautiful they are and will always be.
Thank you for reading this.