Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder

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Admittedly, while some women do need to lose weight, psychologically this is an issue that is pervasive among most women, the pathological need to lose weight.


Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. No cliché stands so untrue as that. Take Paris Hilton for example. She is tall, blonde, and thin. She is a celebrity and the darling of the American media. Why, I don’t know. She can model but has no talent for acting or singing, or any other art of any form or shape. In America, though, it doesn’t take talent to make you famous. Just attention of the media and the influence of that media is now global. The “Paris Hilton” model of beauty is now espoused by young women all over the world. There are Japanese blondes nowadays, although genetically Japanese women cannot be blonde. When we get to a stage where a standard of beauty becomes unnatural looking on real women, then it must be seen as a problem.


Two facts have to be made clear as we proceed; one, the influence of the Western media is powerful and overwhelming and is gaining ground globally. Actresses,

singers and models are now the role models for so many young women, and the one thing that Western media agrees upon in its definition of beauty is the issue of being thin. Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Christina Aguilera, Rene Zelwellger, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, and now Lindsay Lohan (Remember how healthy, curvy, and gorgeous she looked just a year ago?). Maybe not necessarily all tall, but all blonde and extremely thin. That is not to say the US media doesn’t consider brunettes as newsworthy, but thin is the one issue where there is no compromise. Sure there are women like Queen Latifa, but she is one of those token “overweight” celebrities. The majority of female stars, however, treat the red carpet same way as the catwalk, the “right” look is the “thin” look, and this look is now admired and sought for by women all over the world. Thin is in and that’s what the media is selling and the women of the world are buying. 


Let me stop here and add a point that might seem controversial but worth considering. It is no secret that the fashion industry is one that is dominated by gay designers. I have gone through fashion spreads in a number of fashion magazines and I have one visual of women. While male models are of the hunky type, six pack abs and well-toned muscles, logically, their female counterparts should be curvy, with ample bosom and a nice round bottom. Yet, most female models are stick thin, flat-chested, and little in the way of hips. The women in entertainment are a little better, but not by much. Vivienne Westwood once said in an interview, “Couture looks good on thin people. Period.” Yet, I find that female models now resemble young teen boys, and I can’t help but wonder if that has something to do with the gay factor involved. What do gay designers know about the average normal woman? More importantly, by what right should they decide what the right body for their clothes is?      


Two, women, in their behavior and appearance, are more concerned with how other women look and how other women see them. The latter fact is important because if women asked men what they think, they would be shocked to know that our definition of “fat” or “thin”, “ugly” or “beautiful”, and even “tall” or “short”, are so far removed from how women see or think about it. Here in the Middle East, Arab men have a different view, as do men of the world’s different cultures, of what a “beautiful” woman is. Only two decades ago, a full figured woman was normal, and talk of diets was minimal. When men look at the women in the media’s eye, they would see actresses and models like Jessica Alba, Salma Hayek, Tyra Banks and Cindy Crawford. All olive skinned brunettes and curvy. Let me reveal a secret that might shock women, and anger men; it is a well kept secret among men that girls who are in the porn industry, like Jenna Jameson for example, represent what men see as sexy and desirable. Even if we choose to ignore that second controversial remark, let us take the middle ground; look at the women on covers of men’s magazines like Maxim, Loaded, and FHM, and compare them to those on the covers of Vogue, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan and my point is all too clear.


Nowadays, women talk about weight all the time, and no weight is low enough. This is met with the proliferation of high calorie junk food, especially take out food at the workplace. So women are not listening to their men, the media is deluding them of what the right weight is and modern day-to-day life is full of temptations. Result? An emergence of a potential social and psychological issue affecting women.        


As a man, at an age where I gain weight faster than I did a decade ago, my metabolism has slowed down; add to that the stationary nature of the workplace, and the general apathy of society towards men’s weight. I can’t say I have an understanding of how women think and feel. I tell you this though; there are times when I did need to lose weight and went on diets coupled with exercise, due to both issues of health and self image. It was hell. I was low on energy and productivity. Results came slow, the process is intrusive into every detail, food and drink were tasteless, and among men at least, diets are mocked, so no support there. My point is that for me, and other men, this is a temporary period with specified objectives. I cannot imagine living with this is as a day-to-day concern as it is for women with fluctuating objectives. Diets then turn sinister and self destructive.


In the end, the point I’m leading to is that a woman could be her own worst enemy by seeking to make herself someone she’s not physically or psychologically capable of being. Moreover, by letting the media dictate to her what she has to be, she stops herself of being who she really is, and lets others limit her choices of how she looks. More importantly, when men are relegated to mute observers rather than partners and friends, women are missing a primary source of self-confidence by relying on how men really see women. Look healthy and look good, but do that by finding your own individual grace. So, if the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, make sure that you, and not others, are the beholder.      

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