Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Beauty Boundaries

I wrote about beauty last week, but I keep thinking about it.  A couple of things have caught my attention.

1. I have been watching "America's Next Top Model".  I will admit that I feel some shame in watching these shows, but at the same time there is something so meta about them, the messages about ourselves and what we want to see.  I like seeing someone who is "perfect" still struggling with life.  It reminds me that everything would not be perfect in my life if I just looked a different way.  I like to see how a lot of it comes down to attitude, that there are those people who just give up and those who may not be the top but who have the other things (like respect for others) which push them forwards.

Maybe I am being manipulated by editing.  I take that risk.  I like to see how the story told changes over time.  The first season was a discussion of religion and a split between those who had it and those who did not.  This show has dealt with body weight, race, height and ideas of beauty.  There have been models with Alopecia, anxiety, Asperger's and deafness.  They have covered teen parenthood and poverty.  Crudely, it seems like a discussion on America, who gets to be in and what "matters".

2. This lead to me watching "Asia's Next Top Model", which has really pushed me to explore my stereotypes about "Asia" and Asian women.  Even the conception of Asianess is interesting, the pan acceptance of sameness from folks so widely dispersed from India to Japan.  The show is in English and these are not the soft pretty women of stereotypes.  There have been some very interesting exchanges on ideas of face and beauty.  Runa's wisdom "there should not be prizes cause it makes people feel bad."

3. I really enjoyed this Buzzfeed piece about makeovers and the construction of beauty beyond that strict gender binary.  This was followed by a screening of the short film "House for Sale" which explores a love triangle where one of the people is a trans.  The actor who played the trans character came in to share their experiences with us.  This lead to a discussion about our role as parents in rejecting gender and beauty stereotypes.  I made the case that even as we educate our children, when you walk into a store there is a boys and a girls section.  For my girl to choose a "boy" shirt is not a neutral act, it is a journey into "masculine" space.  Even as a girl who is cis gendered, but just not particularly interested in makeup, hair or clothes, she feels a certain amount of pressure from her friends to conform.

I guess I keep thinking about beauty because it intersects with so much else; race, gender, culture, religion... and on and on.  For a long time I took on the ideas of beauty that were put to me, be blond and thin and pure and white and het.  I covered up and worried about what the viewer saw.  In my  journey as Métis and having the opportunity to decolonialize my ideas of beauty along with other things has been eye opening. 

No comments:

Post a Comment