What Price Beauty

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I spent a lot of years in the Beauty/Fashion industry… I starved myself like everyone else did.  Looking beautiful and sexy was a different kind of nourishment, and I made the tradeoff gleefully.  But looking back, I’ve had lots of second thoughts about the unrealistic dream of beauty we’ve left our daughters.  Real women don’t look like the retouched ones in magazines.  Strong women can’t live on a starvation diet.  Able-bodied women can’t run or walk, or protect themselves, should they need to, in 6 inch stiletto heels.

With the growing desperation among women to look like the improbable beauty and thinness of celebrities and movie stars, our daughters and granddaughters are inheriting an impossible paradigm.  And buying into the myth that women really look like Angelina Jolie or Charlize Theron without hair and makeup artists, lighting experts and retouching to help them along, appears to have created a generation of anorexics, bulimics and plastic surgery addicts trying to reach an impossible standard.   

The cult of youthful celebrity and of men trading in wives for women younger than their scotch hasn’t helped either, so that now the struggle to be young and beautiful forever has women pumping bodies and faces full of questionable chemicals, taking drugs to stay thin, choosing plastic surgeries that can be dangerous (and habit forming) and basing their own sense of self-worth on whether or not they can learn to walk in heels that make bound feet comfy by comparison.

A recent study shows that women believe showing signs of aging puts them at serious risk in their marriages, sex lives, careers, and self-confidence – that’s a pretty potent roster of potential losses.  I don’t know how to fix this deck stacked against us, mind you, but maybe the first step toward the solution is at least acknowledging the problem.   

Just when it seemed we were making strides in trading in the glass slipper for the glass ceiling, it looks as if we now have one more glass to conquer:  the mirror.


© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2011


Posted on November 18th 2011 in The Philosopher’s Teacup, Women

One Response to “What Price Beauty”

  1. Gerry Says:

    There has never been a time in history when there were so many alternatives available for women (and men)to change their appearance as there are now. If I think about it for too long, I become a bit depressed. The surgeries, injections, weird diets, etc. are dangerous enough, but the real problem is: why do we think we need to look 20 something forever? The psychological damage is devastating. I will admit to looking at photos of myself at the age of 27ish and thinking…wow…did I really look like that? But…life moves on, bodies age, what we lose in muscle tone, firm breasts, non-sagging eyelids, we gain in wisdom, sagacity, and some absolutely fabulous memories. Cathy is correct, the first step to a solution is to acknowledge the problem. I think it is a problem that can potentially undermine a large part of our society. We need to give a dam about much more important things than trying to look young forever. With that said, that does not exonerate me from at least trying to lose some of the 40 or so pounds that have found their way onto this frame. sigh. Oh! I am remembering a tv ad for coffee that ran many years ago. There was a black and white photo of a woman who appeared to be in her late 70’s or so. She had a very round face, beautiful eyes, wrinkles, no makeup, and to this day her face pops into my mind and I smile thinking that it was one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Honest.

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