I feel that beauty norms affect men and women very differently, although the pressure is now gaining speed for men as well. Women are targeted from an early age as far as what is considered beautiful. Look at one of the most popular girls toy, the barbie doll. Barbie has dimensions that the average person can never obtain but that is what is marketed to our female children. They are also deluged with images of Disneys Princess line. What is this showing our children? That the outer appearance is everything?
Any person old enough to view television is also subject to the unrelenting Hollywood images of media stars. For me, the most frustrating is to see the media hop all over women that have recently given birth and expecting them to be able to walk out the door looking as if they have never been pregnant. If there is the least image of the inevitable pooch in the tummy area, snide comments are made. Honestly, how many women are ever able to look the way they did prior to pregnancy? There might be a lucky few, but most at the minimum have a few stretch marks and the majority will never see their pre-pregnancy body again.
Men are not held up to the same standard. For men, gray hair signifies maturity and intellect. For women, you are just getting old. Weight is the same. Men that are overweight may be called portly or stout but women are fat and lazy. There is a great disparity between the way the sexes are treated. However, I am seeing the pressure more and more for men in the number of ads for body washes, hair care, hair removal and mens grooming products.
I feel that it has personally affected me, especially when it comes to weight. I used to weigh much more than I currently do. When I was heavier, I noticed that I was treated differently, especially by men. Now that I am thinner, I find that men are more apt to open doors, smile at me and overall treat me in a nicer way. When I was heavier, I think I was taken more seriously but now I get the "fluff" words such as sweetheart, honey, baby and the like. Even my husband treats me differently. When I am thinner, he is more apt to act like he is showing me off yet on the other hand he is much more jealous. He will question my every move and will bristle at the slightest when some other male shows me the least amount of attention.
There is a part of me that thinks that all of this is really immaterial, yet I continue to "buy" into the very conditioned response of keeping my hair colored, using the appropriate make-up to cover any imperfections and trying to keep my weight at a certain level. Yes, it is good to be healthy, but honestly I do it less for health and more for image. I will admit that. I also find myself judging others my age. Just this week, my mother and I were discussing a lady on the latest "Biggest Loser" television show. She is 49 and I am 46. My mother and I were just talking about how she looks "older" than her age and how hair color would make her look so much better. How shallow we can all be. Who am I to judge someone else? I do not know her situation, yet I was concerned that I looked that old.
Beauty is not just on the outside. It is on the inside as well. It would do us all good to keep that in mind and not judge on looks alone. I will try to remember that the next time that I make an opinion on the way that someone appears. I don't like it when someone does it to me and I should make a conscious effort not to do it to others.