The male beauty standard: an anorexic myth

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]uzy had been reading women’s fashion magazines for a while. And the more she read, the more concerned she got about her appearance. She started obsessing on her weight and began skipping meals. Then she started skipping nearly all of them. Before long she was severely under weight.

Her family got concerned and called in the psychotherapists, and then, when she continued to self emaciate, they called a team of doctors. She was fed intravenously in intensive care units several times, which helped her put some weight back on, but it didn’t help long term. Eventually she withered down to a living skeleton, suffered heart failure, and died.

The family, stricken with grief and still bewildered, wanted answers. And of course the psychotherapists, who thought nothing of claiming to have answers, in spite of Suzy‘s dead body, were happy to oblige.

Poor Suzy, it seems, was the victim of too many pressures to meet a beauty standard which had been forced upon her and all women by the media and the fashion industry.

Magazines, designed for women readers, show all manner of super thin models dressed glamorously in the latest fashions, surrounded by ads for weight loss programs and diet pills and it pressures them to take action to become thinner, sometimes triggering a psychological free fall where they hit bottom, light as a feather and dead as a door knob. Even the ones that don’t die or get diagnosed with some sort of disease are affected. Poor body image “issues” abound in western culture.

That is just how pernicious this beauty standard is. In fact, it’s not just a beauty standard, the self help gurus will tell you, but a male beauty standard. Wouldn’t you know? It’s always the male something, isn’t it?

That’s been a big part of the take on things every since certain numbers of women started embracing the Auschwitz and Dachau weight loss programs, and others figured that calorie control meant two fingers shoved down your throat after every meal.

Always ready to feed and legitimize this kind of insanity, the world is now starting to respond, with laws, which as we all know eventually means with badges and guns.

Australia has now made it illegal, yes illegal, for female models to be too skinny and male models too muscular. And in association with their recent legal orgy, happily pushed for by uberfeminist Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the legislation also provides funding to fight eating disorders.

For the cuteness factor, perhaps, Brown Shirt Youth Minister Kate Ellis, another radical feminist, has unveiled a body image tick-of-approval program, sort of like the Good Housekeeping seal for designer clothing.

In this, the latest fit of neurotic protectionism for women, the government down under, which can’t balance a budget, is now going to legislate women finding balance at the scales.

I am sure that when the Aussie bureaucrats figure out what too skinny and too muscular actually mean, it will end Anorexia Nervosa and stop millions of fingers from tonsil tickling their way into re-serving lunch via the big hurl.

But of course, there is another problem here.

It’s that male beauty standard thing. It doesn’t exist, and never did. There is, however, a kind of attraction biopsychology, but it applies to the human species- the whole human species. It was never a matter of conscious choice, certainly not by one sex, so it can’t be considered a “standard.” It just is.

“Standard,” is just political speak for “this must be men‘s fault, let‘s pass some laws and take more of their money to enforce them.” When it comes to what attracts men, it’s a simple formula. A waist to hip (WHR) ratio of 0.7 in women will do it. (For men it is 0.9.) That is all there is to it. It is universal, maintaining consistency, even after factor weighing for women of different sizes and the different ways some ethnicities tend to store body fat. For instance, African American women tend to store more body fat in their buttocks than Whites and Asians. And African American men are reputed to prefer women with larger posteriors.

But African Americans, when tested on attractiveness scales found the most attractive WHR in women to be, you guessed it, 0.7. The thing is that the WHR has nothing to do with the size of the woman. It is the ratio that is attractive, not the specific measurements.

It’s a human thing, and we are not getting around it. Certainly not with some wildly off base political victim ploy. Of course, where would the world be these days without wildly off base political victim ploys?

I know, I know, we’d be much better off, but the question was rhetorical. One might argue that the problem is that men prefer the universally attractive WHR in women that are smaller overall and that this contributes to the problem. That’s a fail as well.

Take a look at the overarching female sex symbols from American cinema- the blond bombshells, and even some brunettes and redheads, over the last couple of generations and see what you get. Women like Raquel Welch, Sophia Loren, Jane Mansfield, Anna Nicole Smith, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, and on and on and on.

What do they all have in common? Big boobs, trim but not tiny waists, strong, ample, “child bearing” hips, and of course the roughly 0.7 WHR. But they are generally all big girls with meat on their bones. So if men have collectively expressed what they like physically in women, it’s sure not Twiggy.

So what the hell, exactly, is really going on here, since this isn’t about men or what they want?

The truth is that when you talk to objective medical, or even objective psychiatric experts about eating disorders and poor body image, their firm answers about their origins are that they just don’t know. Most speculate, however, that family dysfunction and/or abuse plays a part.

The problem arises when the subject is handled publicly by gender ideologues who unfortunately have psychological credentials behind which to hide their activism. They never see a problem that they cannot trace back to something about men, and about how women are victims to them.

Hey, I understand, that’s where the bucks and power are. Just take a trip to Sidney and find out. My guess is, though, that you really don’t need to go that far. But what if there is a different explanation than offered by the gurus? God forbid, right? But just the same, let’s take a stab.

Someone once said that if you really want to understand people, forget psychology and sociology. If you want to understand people, look at advertising. And what do we see when we examine advertising to women in western culture. We see corporations that understand that women are obsessed with image and other exterior matters and have very little going on under the surface.

Sorry, but take it up with COSMO. I don’t make this stuff up.

In a world where women claim to want men to see them for who they are on the inside, their purchasing patterns and areas of interest say the exact opposite. In fact, their consumer behavior says there is naught but a meaningless void to see if you bothered to take a peek under the surface.

They put their money (and their men‘s money), time and attention into how they look, and pretty much only into how they look. The fashion industry doesn’t create this, it simply exploits it. And any attempt to control it legislatively is doomed for that very reason.

The problem isn’t with the fashion industry. The problem is with women. And as long as we keep creating illusions for them to point the finger at while they are en route to get that next Gucci accessory or boob job, we will keep losing them, both in body and spirit, to their own devices.

A poll conducted of females in the UK in 2006 indicates that women there spend approximately 8 years of a 63 year life shopping, and they make more trips for their appearance then they do for food.

What if women suddenly said fuck my appearance? I can feel the hackles going up now.

But that isn’t the point, some would say. Women are judged, and harshly, on their appearance! It’s not that simple! Of course, that is a good point. So let’s try again.

What if women suddenly said, fuck my appearance and the people who judge me based on it?

Yep, that is the answer. Rather the right question. But the problem is that going this route has an unfortunate effect. Women who don’t obsess on their appearance aren’t going to be as successful as those who do at manipulating money and other goods out of men. They will have to start getting everything on their own. Bummer.

But you know, there might be something kind of positive that comes with such a crazy idea. Like the development of an internal self. Like focus on accomplishments instead of image. Like less women starving themselves to death in the psychotic pursuit of glamour.

The fact is that eating disorders radiate a problem with modern femininity. And before anyone rushes to point out that there has been a recent increase in male eating disorders, hold up. What the hell should we expect in a society that is inhabited by a lot more emasculated, feminized men? Feminists have pursued turning men into women for 50 years. The up tick in male eating disorders is proof they have made progress.

The solution here falls into the ranks of those you will never hear offered by the gurus, mainly because there is no money in the truth.

Women need to change. They need to quit living shallow, image obsessed, pitifully dependent lives spent in the pursuit of the fruits of other peoples labor, and using their physical appearance to get it done.

If they want to be seen for what they are on the inside, they need get out of the mirror and make sure something on the inside is actually there.

And perhaps, just perhaps, once their inner selves are filled with some substance and character, birthed from their own efforts and accomplishments, they will have something inside they won’t try to heave into the nearest toilet.

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