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Trading in the Currency of Beauty [Oct. 14th, 2009|10:21 am]
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I read this article today about the poor model who's contract was ended. She says she saw Ralph Lauren as "a second family". I have about a million problems with the story, and not the typical outrage that women like to toss out, such as blame of the media, scoffing at Photoshop, or blaming editors for publishing what other women like to see. Here are the problems.

1. Have you ever thought your contract was ended because you are now OLD for a model?
2. You trade in the currency of beauty and fashion and you get what you deserve. It isn't a secure job.
3. She makes a big deal about being 5'10" and 120lbs and makes it so clear that she didn't gain weight, but instead the sample clothes have shrunk. Who cares? You are part of a totally shallow industry and being paid for what you look like. If what they want changes, just like all of the other girls who weren't picked when you were because you had the look they didn't, if the look they desire changes you are left out this time. You didn't complain when you were in the group picked, so shut up now that it has changed. You can't take the fame and money and then complain about the system that created it just because it ended.
4. Why do they have to keep talking about the "normal" sized or "plus-sized" models being the solution? They aren't the average girl either. And just like you are kicked out for being 10lbs over a size 2, so will you be kicked out for being 10lbs over a size 8 if you are a plus sized model. If you are of average height or have imperfect skin? Forget it. It's just as shallow and competitive as normal sized modeling. In fact, there are fewer jobs, so in some ways it's even more cutthroat.

So, what is the solution? How about we educate our daughters to see their value as more than their appearance? How about if what they accomplish, what they learn, and what they contribute is their value instead of what they look like or how pretty people think they are? How about we celebrate their kindness on the cover of a magazine instead of their loss of 10lbs and new makeover? How about if brilliance and creativity is in this fall instead of flannel and the color purple? How about if we leave fashion and Photoshop alone in the category of art and let the value of a human be so much more than what you can see or buy?

[User Picture]From: dove
2009-10-14 06:13 pm (UTC)
Wow! Very well said!
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[User Picture]From: vivaine666
2009-10-14 06:27 pm (UTC)
Yes. Very very yes. You are so right on. I wonder how she (or any other model) would respond to this. I think models like Cindy Crawford and Cristie Brinkly (particularly Cristie Brinkly) are totally taking the right path, by not trying to pretend that everything is still the same. Maybe they're not at a place where they're using their brains or creativity, but they're now promoting things that are supposed to be good for people. And maybe that's the best they have to offer. It's certainly better than whining about how the industry wants them to be different.
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[User Picture]From: teddyeddy
2009-10-14 09:34 pm (UTC)
I loved that one too!
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[User Picture]From: starrynytes4me
2009-10-14 09:38 pm (UTC)
The thing that worries me about that story and other ones like it is that model is STILL an ideal of beauty. That teeny tummy pouch and her 5'11" 180lbs body is still on the high end of healthy. Plus-sized women might like to THINK that is what we look like, and those of us near a healthy weight with perfect skin, ages 14-25 who take great care of ourselves, have perfect straight white teeth, flattering light, and are photogenic DO look like that. So, once again, not many.

My point isn't "moar regular sized models". My point is, models are not the answer. Diversity in defining beauty and more value on internal things and things that matter is a better answer.
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[User Picture]From: starrynytes4me
2009-10-14 09:36 pm (UTC)
I saw that, but I also disagree that she's all that's right with the modeling world. She's still a model and if she couldn't fit the clothing samples they would fire her too. She does seem to have a more healthy view of her job and is having fun with it.
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[User Picture]From: pattinthehatt
2009-10-15 12:31 am (UTC)
I want to make it clear up front that I agree with everything you've said. I want to do that because I also want to add a dimension to it, but it could easily be construed as opposing what you've said. I have, however, come to know, for a while now, that you are an intelligent person who will keep an open mind and not jump to any conclusion until you've heard me out. :o) Not that your brain won't form opinions along the way, because that's normal and, imo, unavoidable, but that doesn't mean you won't continue to stay open minded til you finish reading.

Yesterday a friend posted that it's hard to imagine what hope "regular" women have of feeling or even looking beautiful in light of all this recent airbrushing stuff coming to light. She was at that moment particularly reacting to the news about Jessica Alba's figure being altered for an ad, but more to the whole general crap from the beauty industry.

While I agree that we should focus more on things like accomplishment, kindness, creativity, intelligence, and so on, I don't actually think we need to completely ditch valuing beauty, too. But I do think we need to learn to redefine it.

I love art. I love beautiful clothing and jewelry and such (I know, you're absolutely shocked by this admission, aren't you? :oP ). Beautiful flowers, trees, landscapes, and so on and so on. To me, a beautiful person can be like a work of art. I will admit, for instance, that when Mickey Rourke started damaging his appearance with bizarre plastic surgeries there was a little piece of my heart that broke, just as there would be if someone shredded Van Gogh's Starry Night.

For me personally, a physically beautiful person can appear ugly, truly ugly, if I know the person is ugly inside. I remember when my neighbor mentioned that her youngest daughter's biological father was a nice looking guy, and that was part of why he was full of himself; I had to pause and pull up his image in my head, because to me he had always been ugly. Before I ever met him I knew too much about his ugly personality and abusiveness and the condition his sweet, loving, little daughter comes home in from the weekends he has her to have ever seen any beauty in him. If I can remove all that I suppose he is a nice looking man, in the ways our culture defines physical beauty. But I am, truly, not able to divorce who and what he is from his appearance, so, to me, he will never be handsome, even if I can see that his beautiful daughter has his eyes and such.

I'm not sure that's an expectation I could put on other people, though, that their concept of physical beauty be tied to what they know of a person's character.

But I do wish I could ask women to reconsider how they judge their own looks. I myself need to work on this, imo. I do not think of myself as beautiful. I sometimes think of myself as okay, or, if I've managed to pull together a really good look for a particular day, I might even think I look pretty. But, like most any woman in our culture, I could, at the drop of a hat, tick off probably a good two dozen reasons why I am not beautiful. And, for all my disdain for the ridiculous standards set by the beauty industry, if I'm honest, most of my flaws are based in those standards.

So I believe we need to start looking at ourselves as those who love us do. I know when Tommy or Kim or Rachel or you or my little Goldilocks next door or probably even most people on the street look at me they are not thinking my legs and arms don't look like those of a supermodel, or my neck has some wrinkles from my weight loss, or my boobs aren't big enough or so on and so on and so on. So why do I give those things weight? It's crazy, right? Does anyone else even notice that I have saddlebags or that there's a small skin tag on the left side of my nose in the crease?

We all kill our self esteem with such things, instead of seeing the beauty that others see in us. I don't think we have to give up placing some value on beauty; we just need to adjust our concept of what beauty is.
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[User Picture]From: starrynytes4me
2009-10-15 12:39 am (UTC)
I totally agree with this too, and my point is not to devalue this argument, it is only to say that this is not enough. There is still too much emphasis on the visual appearance of a woman in our culture and we need to do more than alter our definition of beauty. We also need some context around the whole discussion. It shouldn't be all that matters. It is one aspect of a person, not their entire value, but it is an aspect of course. I love art, as you know, I went to graphic design school and I still work on art software. I am a huge lover of cosmetics, jewelry, and artful attire. I even enjoy doing makeup on others for fun. I like to style other people. I even enjoy taking photos of people I care about to show them when I can the beauty I see.

I have given this matter so much thought partly as people have treated me differently through all of the sizes I've been, and I've come to understand that it is hurtful how much value we place on it, but it doesn't need to be. Enhancing a celebrating one woman's beauty should not be a threat or a self-esteem slam on another woman, yet it is. Lavishing encouragement on one woman should not mean demeaning another. In fact, Monique can be a "real woman" without making Angelina Jolie a "skinny b*tch" or a "waif".
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