rant

Beauty Fatigue

I am tired of beauty.

On one hand, we have the constant barrage of techniques and products for making yourself more beautiful. These include altering your appearance through the use of makeup, hair styling, skin products and procedures, wardrobe choices, body hair removal, and even cosmetic surgery. Some of these seem innocuous. Some women even state they ENJOY their beauty regimen. But some are downright painful. Others are possibly life threatening.

On the other hand, we have a counter movement that is attempting to spread the message that ALL  women are already beautiful! Instead of changing yourself, they say, simply embrace your own unique beauty that you had all along if you would just have the confidence to show it off. At the core of this message is the belief that every woman wants to and deserves to feel beautiful.

I prefer the second message, if those are the only two choices. But the second message is still problematic in that the underlying message continues to be that beauty is EXTREMELY important for women. So much so that in order to be empowered, we must all have it.

Ask yourself this: How would you feel about a campaign to convince men that every man is handsome? It is absurd, right? Because men are expected to go on about their lives whether they are handsome or not. Being handsome is not required.

I do not feel empowered by being told that I am beautiful; I feel suffocated by it. I feel that I cannot go through one day without hearing about beauty and how I must find a way to embrace it in myself. Yet I have come to realize that I simply do not want to.

I don’t find my appearance all that interesting to think about. Certainly I have gone through various stages or insecurity, rebellion and conformity. I have tried to enhance my socially desirable physical traits and minimize those parts that are wrong, wrong wrong according to the ideal. I have told myself in the mirror that I am beautiful but it never felt right.

The truth is that I am not beautiful. I am not hideous. I am an unremarkable looking woman. I make the bare minimum effort to look presentable for my job and would do even less if I could.

For a woman to say “I am not beautiful and I am fine with that,” is the ultimate rebellion in my book. Because when people hear that, they hear “I am unworthy and unlovable.” Because when people hear that a woman does not find herself beautiful they believe it means the woman is depressed and has low self-esteem. Because beauty is so important that nothing else you think about yourself matters unless you are also beautiful.

I am smart. I am hilarious. I am clever. I am creative. I have innate artistic talent. I am caring. I am compassionate. I am successful. I am independent. I am empathetic. I am out-spoken. I am confident. I am loveable. I am a good friend. I’m an all-around pretty fucking awesome person.

I can be all of those things. But if I say I am not beautiful, I have low self-esteem because clearly a woman’s self-worth comes from her feelings about her appearance.

I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, but when I do I do not negatively judge myself. There I am. That’s me. That’s what I look like. Do I have spinach in my teeth? No? Ok good. I do not berate myself for “flaws” but neither do I swoon over my own image.

And I am in a long term relationship with a man who finds me sexy. I don’t care if anyone else finds me  sexy because I am not trying to have sex with anyone else. Yet I cannot go one day without hearing tips about how I deserve to feel beautiful and sexy at every waking moment and it drives me crazy sometimes.

Women do not exist for the visual pleasure of others. We are unique individuals with hopes, dreams, aspirations, struggles, histories, and all the humanity of any person.

I Am Over It.

What is beauty, really? As an artist, I certainly do find things aesthetically pleasing. I find people aesthetically interesting, even if they are not beautiful. But beauty is a social construct and it has always been changing. What we find most beautiful today in our culture would be considered hideous in another place and time. Some people say beauty comes from the soul, but I think that’s bullshit. There are beautiful people who are vapid and awful inside. And there are ugly people who are saints. If everyone is beautiful, what can beauty possibly mean? What is it then, if it is not an outer appearance? It’s nothing. So can we PLEASE stop talking about it?

I would like to talk about ANYTHING else. Anything. Can we work on empowering women through our accomplishments instead?

Basically I have beauty fatigue. I am so incredibly bored by the idea of female beauty I don’t care to hear about it ever again. It either pits us against one another or we all have it, so let’s just move on to something more meaningful.

Maybe beauty is a complete farce to keep us distracted from things that matter. Instead of worrying about what’s happening in the world or your country or your government or your society, here look, Shiny Things! See how they sparkle! You want to sparkle too, right? Everyone loves to SPARKLE.
I don’t want to be a shiny thing. I want to do things.
I am worthy.
I am good enough.
I am loveable.
I am awesome.

I am not beautiful and I do not need to be.

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