Saturday, March 29, 2008

There has always been a beauty standard

When looking for an image, I stumbled upon this book, "Beauty and Virtue: Leonardo's Ginevra de' Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women", which sounds terribly interesting, but it's probably bone dry and dull. I say this because I can't stomach "art speak", even though I was schooled in it, in, of all places (surprise!), art school. I know I shouldn't make assumptions, but since the book is forty bucks in paperback, I'll pass. . .

I was looking at the 1970's woman in the ad for Listerine and thought how "ugly" she seemed to me. This rather hard look is considered "sexy" in our society, even if it's become more refined than back in the seventies. Think of all the women in the Miss America Pageant. They are all under 23 (I believe) but look uniformly like sexy thirty-somethings. The beauty pageant woman always reminds me of "The Stepford Wives". Not being even close to the American beauty standard myself, I've always taken a snarky pleasure in thinking that they will all age poorly.

I wanted to find a painting that showed how much the beauty standard has changed over the years. I was disappointed. It hasn't changed all that much. Perhaps there was once more of an emphasis on the "virtue" of a woman and and innocent, youthful looks were prized more for their conveyance of a certain sense of non-worldliness as opposed to the rather lurid focus on youth we have now (think Jean Benet Ramsey).

I would venture to say that the real difference between now and "then" (whenever that was) is that we are all subject to these standards now. In the past, it was reserved for the upper classes. I mean, who had time for that when you were busy tending to the potatoes?

I had originally wanted to post on the subject of love, but I'm putting that off for as long as possible (well, not really, but I am given to hyperbole). There will be more on this subject, I'm sure, for it irks me no end (note: that's an understatement). I have known few women for whom the expectations of society's overemphasis on looks hasn't taken some sort of toll. Perhaps I know none, in fact. How about you?

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