the beauty mandate
September 6, 2011 5 Comments
I work with two ladies– aged 58 and 63– who are constantly dieting. D lost ~60 lbs on Nutrasystem (which consists of gross, unrefrigerated single-serving meals full of preservatives) but she had to go off of it after it gave her dizzy spells for a week and made her hair fall out. She has since regained much of her weight. B tried Nutrasystem, but has since moved on to the South Beach Diet. In my office, it’s all diet talk all the time.
These women bond over their weight, as most women do. Radical feminists know that this is a waste of energy, since our bodies are just fine thank you very much, and the culture we live in (aka the p) instills in us this body insecurity from a very young age. As Germaine Greer says in _The Whole Woman_ (p 25),
As a way of inducing them to buy products of no use or value, women have been deliberately infected with BDD. [Body Dysmorphic Disorder}
The culture we live in is the problem and it, not we, need to change.
But that doesn’t mean that we can learn this fact, and thereby reverse the power of these messages overnight.
I need to be reminded that there is nothing wrong with my body at least every day, and sometimes several times a day.
Preoccupation about her appearance goes some way towards ruining some part of every woman’s day
ibid p 25
This is unfortunate, because if I could fully reject the messages that say cellulite on the ass and under eye wrinkles are not beautiful, and beauty is the best way to evaluate a woman’s worth, I could get on with other, more worthwhile projects. It is a waste of energy to hate the bump above my pelvis, and to fixate on the puffy circles under my eyes, and to be reminded of my nose moles and think, “Having them removed wouldn’t be so bad.” This is what women look like. This is what aging is. These features of mine are normal!
I’ve stopped wearing makeup, and in some ways that has helped, oddly enough. I look more plain, but also the plainness is more beautiful. It’s me! I like walking around the world looking like myself.
FCM reminds us that harm reduction strategies are not radical, but they are helpful given our current location in time, and the cultural constraints placed upon us. For me, the best harm reduction strategy for reducing internalized body hatred is to remind myself and my sisters that they and I do not share the values of our culture, and the beauty mandate can fuck right off.