Happy Monday! I hope you have a great weekend. The weather here actually turned out being really nice. Sunny in the high 70s, do bad I didn't spend any time outside though :/ I should have been soaking up the last of the summer temps while I still can. But Saturday was filled with the GFAF Expo (recap tomorrow!), grocery shopping, editing my main Common App essay, and then yoga! Sunday was spent reading, homeworking, studying, and getting blog posts ready for the week. O how I wish there were more hours in the day, but who doesn't? I did have a nice slow morning on Sunday and slept a little more than usual, made Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Flakes, and tried the Red Roobios Tea I bought at the grocery. It was lovely! I will definitely be adding it to my daily tea rotation. I also turned my phone off and kept it off all day. Even though I don't use my phone much except for the internet to check emails and social media, it always feels good to turn it off.
Today's Power Monday post was inspired by my Anceint History class and what we have been talking about the last week. Since the class just started we aren't jumping right into anceint history, but starting borader and learning about culture. We discussed American/Western culture and then we moved on to how other cultures perceive us here in the states. So of course when we talk about culture appearance and beauty must be discussed. That's when we got into a great discussion on what beauty is and means in different cultures. This got me thinking and wanting to share my thoughts on the topic with you guys and hear your opinion.
Simply put, beauty is defined in the dictionary as: "1. A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially sight. 2. A beautiful or pleasing thing or person, in particular." There really is no set definition; it is all up to interpretation and what you perceive as beauty. So why is American culture so screwed up on beauty and looks? Well it really does have to do with the media. Back in the 1920s women were just breaking out of tradition and embracing their femininity and a new freedom. (hence the 19th Amendment). The flapper image was the new ideal, completely different form the high neck dresses and covered bodies of the previous decades. Women were also less concerned about weight. Super skinny was not the norm, but we all know that was going to change.
Then we progress to the 1950s and Merilyn Monroe. She is thought to be one of the most beautiful women in the world and guess what. She was a size 12! Of course there have been size modifications since then but Marilyn was so skinny women. She was full figured but mean wanted her and women wanted to be her. So Has beauty culture changed...that is a major yes.
Today in American and Western culture we are obsessed with looking young, skinny, blonde, and tan. Women spend millions of dollars on plastic surgery and Botox just to change their physical appearance to suit their preference. We can't seem to embrace the aging process. It is going to happen, you can't stop it. You can try but then you just look silly being a 60 year old women with dyed blonde hair and a face that doesn't move. I will never dye my hair or change my face or body with medical procedures and chemicals. My body will progress through life how it was intended to do so. But the bigger obsession our culture has is weight. The media plasters images, commercials, magazines, social media, everything with perfect Photoshopped and air-brushed models with the "perfect" bodies and flawless faces. But that is so far from what beauty is. We see celebrities endorsing crazy diets, personal training, and getting that post-baby body back to pre-baby body in 20 seconds flat. Young girls, women, and even men are receiving these crazy mixed up messages from the media and celebrities, OUR culture, and are developing horrible body image issues, eating disorders, exercise addictions, and depression.
But it isn't just skinny we are obsessed with now. What about "fitspiration" and being "toned". These images and sayings that strong is the new skinny is starting to have the same effect, especially on young girls. Most do not know how to exercise safely and this is leading to addictions, injuries, and even more eating disorders. But hey, take a look at our nation right now. 1 in 3 adults are obese. Yet these people are getting married and living happy lives. They aren't all society's outcasts. So what really is beauty? Why is our culture so confused? Why can't we just take care of our bodies, love our bodies, and know that each one of us is made to look different. We do we all what to look the same?
But it is not just our culture that has a screwed up sense of beauty. In my class we took a look at the women of the African nation of Mauritania. You can say that American beauty and Mauritania beauty is on complete opposite sides of the spectrum. "Obesity is so revered among Mauritania's white Moor Arab population that the young girls are sometimes force-fed to obtain a weight the government has described as "life-threatening"." (Source) These women eat up to 12,000 calories with no physical activity to get up to the proper weight to be wed and found attractive to men. Young girls are sent away at as young as 6 and force-fed. They are severely punished if they don't eat of can;t eat the huge amounts of bread soaked in oil, camel's milk, and millet bowls full of oil and cream. These young girls don't understand why they have to eat so much, but once they come home and see the jealous looks from other girls and the attention they get from men, they believe it was all worth it. Mauritania men want fat women. You will never find a skinny girl or even a 150lb girl in Mauritania. If you did, they would be the biggest outcast and be shunned from society. Fat is what is wanted, but it has gotten so extreme that the government is trying to step in and change the culture. But that is extremely hard since you can't change the preferences of a population. Women must be fat to get married because it is seen as a sign of family wealth. The fatter you are, the more your family can provide.
Where does this leave us? What is beauty? Why does it seem like to be beautiful, in any culture, it must come with a price. Either skinny and perfectly shaped or fat and "wealthy", not to mention all of the other cultural standards in the world. They all seem to be harmful, unachievable, and unsustainable. Of course we will always have culture and societal norms, but why can't we each decide on what our beauty is? Why do we have to feel pressure to look a certain way and hate ourselves if we don't? So what do I think beauty is? I think beauty is having a healthy body that is fueled properly and exercised to be strong and supportive. Age should come naturally and flaws should be left alone, not changed. We should be proud we each look different and have unique qualities. We shouldn't feel pressure to look like the imaginary Photoshopped women in the media. We should feel the need to look ourselves and be happy in our own body and our own definition of beauty.
This is beauty to me. Content, happy, healthy, and strong. This is my ideal. This is what I want to be and look like. Me!
There is so much you could say about culture and beauty, and this post does not do it justice. But I want you to go into your Monday and the rest of this week and decide what your definition of beauty is. If you can find your definition and it is not something your feel pressure to achieve, then you have plenty of Power to Power your Monday and your whole life. Once you realize that culture does not have to dictate how to feel and what your body and face should look like, you will truly realize your beauty and power.
So tell me:
What is your definition of beauty?
How do you feel about our American beauty culture? Are we confused?