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An article I thought you could appreciate 
7th-Apr-2006 11:03 am
Energy burst
I know many of us here struggle with body image and eating disorders... and I thought this article was perfect to demonstrate how the modern image of beauty is absolutely absurd :)

From Dove's "Campaign for real beauty" page: (which can be found here: http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.co.uk/home.asp)

The fashionable body: a brief history
By Nancy Etcoff PhD

Many girls and women feel excluded from society's stereotype of ideal beauty.

In fact, in a study commissioned by Dove, we found that only 2% of women around the world feel comfortable describing themselves as beautiful! The current recipe for ideal beauty has the following ingredients: a beautiful woman must be extremely tall and very thin,have small hips but a big bust. She has large eyes, large lips and a small nose. We are so used to seeing this beauty stereotype in the media that we assume that such features have always been considered ideal. Think again.

Curvy didn't always mean "fat" and "fat" didn't always mean anything other than underweight and underfed. In fact, wide hips and bottoms were once so prized that women hid their unfashionably slim hips beneath bustles, an undergarment that tied at the waist and padded their backsides with rolls stuffed with cork, horsehair or down. In the1880's bustles were so flamboyantly huge that "it was popularly declared a tea-tray could be comfortably rested on it."

At one time, smaller breasts reigned as the ideal. Women did not wear push up bras or get breast implants: they sought breast flatteners.Early corsets flattened breasts and pushed them to the side, the better to highlight the beauty found further south in wide hips. In the 1920s,the ideal of beauty for the flappers was the flat chest; to the newly emancipated women of the 1920's breast implants would have been hideous.

The fashionable face also changes through time. One of the legendary beauties of all times was Cleopatra, the last queen of ancient Egypt and the lover of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Newly authenticated portraits show that Cleopatra was not a beauty by current standards --she was too short, too fat, and her nose was too big. Cleopatra was barely 5 ft tall (average for her time) and had rings of fat around her neck, called "Venus rings" by art historians. Her nose was prominent and long with a pronounced downward curve.

Full-lipped beauties like Angelina Jolie would have been out of favor in England of the eighteenth century. At that time, Sir Henry Beaumont said that in the ideal feminine face "the mouth should be small... a truly pretty mouth is like a rose-bud that is beginning to blow."

This brief tour of the fashionable face and body has one major takeaway lesson: ideals of beauty change and beauty is and always has been a moving target.

Prominent noses or button noses, thin or plump, big breasted or flat chested, curvy or petite, straight hair or ringlets a diversity of features have been the ideal of beauty at one time or another in history. Be yourself and prize the features you have and feel confident in the skin you are in.

Nancy Etcoff, Survival of the Prettiest
C. Willett and Phillis Cunnington, The History of Underclothes. NY: Dover, 1992.
Richard Corson, Fashions in Makeup: From Ancient to Modern Times. London: Peter Owen, 1972
Harold Koda, Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001.
9th-Apr-2006 08:09 am (UTC)
Wow....Thank you for posting this. It's so hard to see myself as beautiful. I have issues with my body, even though I am naturally skinny. It's so frustrating when others only see my skinniness, because it makes me feel guilty for being able to not worry about what I eat, and I even feel guilty for being skinny, even though I can't help it--I hover right at the same weight no matter how much or little I eat. I have small boobs, heavy eyebrows, ears that stick out, a big nose and sometimes I think my face is too long. My best asset is my set of legs. Men ogle them exactly as they ogle a pair of big breasts on a pretty woman, which makes me uncomfortable and so I refuse to wear short skirts because of it. I don't think I'm beautiful at all. It doesn't help that in elementary school, when I was the school outcast, I was frequently told by the other students to take my mask off, that if I ever looked in a mirror I would break it. Later on The Asshole told me more than once that I had "hips like a cow" that I was actually kind of plain and not pretty, that I wasn't feminine enough. I tried wearing makeup, but he didn't even notice, and at that time I still hated wearing dresses. I had grown up a tomboy, and was far more comfortable in jeans and t-shirts (still am, actually, though I also enjoy wearing the occastional skirt or dress now). My parents would tell me I was pretty, my husband tells me I'm beautiful, but I just can't believe it. All I hear is the negative stuff I was told by others, all I see when I look in the mirror are my flaws.

I am currently reading "The Body Sacred" by Dianne Sylvan. I haven't tried any of the suggestions or activities in it yet, I'm just reading it all the way through before I do that. Sometimes I do think I'm beautiful, but that feeling is fleeting, and I'm afraid I'll become vain and develop a swelled head (as The Asshole told me I would) if I continue thinking like that. Then I feel guilty because so many other women don't feel beautiful and I feel like a jerk.

I really like that Dove is trying to combat this sort of nonsense. Thank you again for posting this.

9th-Apr-2006 08:39 am (UTC)
You're welcome, I'm glad to share articles like this. I spent too much of my life believing everyone when they told me I was ugly... and any time that I can help anyone else to not feel that way... is just a blessing, really.

Something that helped me for a long time, was that I had a post-it up on my mirror that said, "I am more beautiful than I will acknowledge"

Seeing it everyday, and saying that while looking into my own eyes - it was powerful. I knew that somewhere inside of my I could find the beauty, even if I didn't know how. It was a reminder to me that I *was* beautiful, and that I'd learn to acknowledge it when I could. I know it helped me a lot, maybe it might help you, too.
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