A Different Kind of Beauty

mannequins

I found the inspiration for this post from one of my peer, Jessica’s blog, who posted about a similar topic. I read on the internet a few weeks ago that there was a store in Sweden that had put mannequins on display that were sizes 6 and 10. People around the world supported it to a certain degree, but there were still complaints that the mannequins were not “traditional” enough. Why are we so determined to perpetuate gender conformity? The ideals of what is “sexy” in society directy affect the construction of identity for gendered individuals-no matter what gender(s) you identify with.
How many of us look at people around us to see how we compare to their appearance? I know I do. When we perpetuate the ideals of gender conformity-that everyone must be a certain size and look a certain way- it compeletly destroys the ability of gendered individuals to form an identity within society. How can we feel comfortable in our own skin when we cannot find someone to relate to in society?woman silouhette
This societal confusion is portrayed in literature too-people are described in print culture in the way that society expects them to be-slim, attractive and with a womanly figure. For example, in “Penelope”, Molly Bloom describes how even she has to conform to society’s ideals of fashion, “I felt rotten simply with the old rubbishy dress that I lost the leads out of the tails with no cut in it but theyre coming into fashion again I bought it simply to please him” (Joyce 10). Even though we have already established that Molly does not conform to gender roles in their entirety, she definitely must conform to society’s expectations of how a woman should look. I think that’s sad. In Bloom’s time, it was unheard of for a woman to wear short skirts or have her petticoats (undergarments) showing. You couldn’t go outside unless you were dressed properly, and that ideal has been carried forward into today’s society, enforcing our stereotypical gender roles by dictating to people how they should dress…which then affects how they think of themselves. Molly doesn’t like her dress, but she must buy it to please the male shopkeeper, that gets to dictate what is appropriate for her to wear as a woman in society at that time. This prevents her from expressing her identity through her clothing, because she is being forced to conform to some absurd societal norm. And since what we read in literature and see in the media has a huge impact on society, these gender-specific clothing norms have carried on from Molly’s society into our modern era.
Have you ever asked someone, “Does this make me look fat?” That question should be banned from society. We should be perpetuating everyone’s beauty in all its diverse forms, not demeaning people based on their size. There is a slow movement within our media toward showing different kinds of beauty, and focusing more on the beauty on the inside of people than on the outside. Inner beauty is absolutetly important, but as long as our society values outer appearance, gender conformity through appearance will continue. It needs to stop, because everyone truly is beautiful in their own way, and on the stage of life, everyone should be free to choose their own costume, regardless of how they identify as a gendered individual. Below you will find some pictures of beauty in some of its various forms. This is not an exclusive list. And yes, I have included a picture of myself here. This is not to be vain,  but hey, I’m not a size 0, and I like to think that I should be able to think of myself as beautiful(even if slightly sunburned here) too. It’s a universal right that should not be dictated by society…so take that, Victoria’s Secret.

cross dressing manold-womansupermodelFull Meplus size beauty

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4 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Beauty

  1. Great post Abi, I would love to see more than size 6 models in store (beside specialty once for BBW or Plus Sized people). Nothing bothers me more than seeing something on display, then finding my size and it doesn’t look as nice because I am not a size 6. I don’t think it is vain to include yourself in your images with this post. You are posting reality. I also love your closing line. I went to the first Victoria Secret store we got in Ontario and needless to say they do not carry my size. I was told I could shop online for it. This angered me, I wanted to see the product in my size, perhaps try it on due to never having product from there before, also why are certain sizes “special” enough to be carried online only? Needless to say, I have never been back to their stores.

  2. I loved this post and I thought you made some great points! I remember hearing about the “average size” mannequins and the for/against debate that followed in the media. I agree with you that the pressure to be both ‘beautiful’ and ‘thin’ are not only daunting but impossible in our society – unfortunately we seem to get the message that our true selves is never good enough. I reblogged this post on my own blog for our course 🙂

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