Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Who the hell are women trying to please?!

Over at Street Carnage, there's a preview of a photo spread from next month's V Magazine where an industry standard sized model (size 0) and a plus sized model (size 12) go head to head in a pose-off. I think this is pretty cool, but at the end of the article we see this picture, plus a nice little post-script.

PS: I thought this picture was boring when I first saw it but I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. The National Average one is irrelevant because midwestern fatsos skew the “figures” but how about the part where women’s ideal is not the male’s ideal? Who are they trying to please?

I'll tell you who: themselves.
Contrary to popular belief, women don't actually exist solely to please men. I know, it sounds crazy, but women see themselves differently than men, and this is going to sound even crazier: a lot of the time, the way a woman dresses, does her hair and/or makeup, and the general effort that she puts into her appearance isn't to please anyone but herself.
"WHAT?! You can't be serious!" shriek the menz and radfems alike. (The radfem admonishment is followed promptly by a call of naievete on my part, letting me know in that radfemsplanation tone that I am simply blinded by a society that seeks to keep me pretty in order to please men. I don't buy it.) I am 100% serious, and I'll give you one reason why: my hair is not naturally red. Most of the people I know wouldn't really care whether my hair was red or brown, and the attractive elements of my personality aren't impacted by the color of my hair. So who in god's name am I trying to please by having red hair? Myself.
There is an element of conditioning going on here too, though. There are a lot of women out there who think that they want to be a size 8 because the media tells them that the only way anyone would ever find them attractive is if their dress size is in the single digits.
Finally, the "national average one" isn't irrelevent. What this image does is show women who are a size 16 what they look like. The size 16 woman in this image isn't ugly or hugely obese. As a woman who is a size 14, I struggle with my body image, but I see this woman (and yes, I know she's been photoshopped), and I think, "oh, I guess I'm not so horribly fat afterall!" and my body image improves. Wow, you mean... wait, could this entire article not have been for the male gaze at all?! Yes, that's exactly what I'm getting at. The "national average one" is, in fact, the most relevant image in the entire spread.


DaisyDeadhead said...

Wow! That is some picture.

PS: Happy Holidays to you!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I've always been a fan of fuller-figured models. There's a great site with many images of plus-size models here:

They're all gorgeous.

The site's forum also has thought-provoking discussions about body image and the media.