Creams for wrinkles, scrubs for cellulite. Treatments to tan skin, whiten teeth, brighten and tone. Pills, shakes, scrubs, serums, injections and surgeries. Whatever you’ve got, we can change it. Smooth it out, brighten it up, fake your skin tone & look ten pounds lighter!
My Gram and I had a talk before her passing in 2008. She told me,
“There aren’t any pictures of me when I was your age. I used to cut my head out of all the photos. If I knew then what I know now…I wish I knew how beautiful I really was.”
After years of grappling with the same insecurities my Gram faced as a young woman, I’ve finally come to terms with what I’ve got. There’s a certain kind of freedom that comes with accepting who you are- flaws and all. This is what I’ll have until the day I leave this Earth, and I’m going to own it, down to every last wrinkle and jiggle.
That being said- just because I’ve accepted that I’ll never (want to) look like an airbrushed magazine model or get even the slightest bit flustered about the perfection of the Victoria’s Secret catalog I still do put plenty of fuss into my appearance. I love to subscribe to Birchbox, experiment with fancy new anti-aging technology, and read about Hyaluronic acid or other new advances in skin care. I care, but I know now I will never look “Photoshop perfect,” I’ll just be a better version of me.
As a feminist, I’ve heard both sides of the argument- both that the pursuit of beauty is oppressive and that expression of our beauty is freedom. I don’t buy either completely- we are constantly bombarded by marketing messages that influence what we think about and thus, what we buy. Our buying choices aren’t independent of influence and are often intermingled with deeper meaning. We don’t just seek what a product does, but the other “intangibles” it promotes- beauty, luxury, taste, fantasy, flirtation. Boiling down our deepest desires to potion or lotion is both an oppression and a freedom.
Creation of beauty is boiled down to buying power- with enough money, we can buy any look we want. With an injection, we are told we can look 10 years younger. With the right makeup we can appear younger, older, sophisticated, “natural,” or skinnier. Beauty can be crafted, tailored, sprayed and applied any way we like it.
I’m from the camp that feels that beauty is unique. Beauty isn’t so much about hiding what you hate, but accentuating what you love. Beauty is about play and about expression- not conformity. Is it any worse than those of us who dump our paychecks into makeup & skin care or spend our money on tanning beds, teeth whitening or microdermabrasion? How far is too far?