Why do we arbitrate on female beauty? – 02/05/2024 – Vera Iaconelli

Why do we arbitrate on female beauty?  – 02/05/2024 – Vera Iaconelli


Feminism is a peaceful revolution in which the territory in dispute is the woman’s body, whether cis or trans. The scrutiny on female forms reveals an ongoing war, because more than issuing a personal opinion —never asked— about how a woman should look, the arbiters of other people’s plastic surgery are asserting that they have the right to her. Right to judge, to punctuate and to condemn. If a woman’s body is on trial, it is to make it clear that it is not entirely hers, but in the public domain.

Gérard Depardieu was never a handsome man, but his talent and charm are put first. Age and obesity didn’t help improve the actor’s sex appeal either. Yet decade after decade, his film romantic partners continue to be 20 years old and 130 pounds lighter than him. What is the clear message in the choice of these actresses? Age and beauty in men are contingent and in women they are mandatory. In other words, a man’s body is worth more than a woman’s.

The recently released “Poor Creatures” (2024) goes out of its way to present Bella, a character whose desire and freedom combined with absolute innocence call into question the fragile sexist discourse. Mark Ruffalo and Emma Stone are great as a stunned Don Juan subdued by the would-be victim. Bella, when trying to understand male motivations, reveals a game of domination whose inconsistency is blatant. The men who see this.

Arbitrating how a woman should dress, gesture, speak, and what aesthetic procedures she should or should not undergo stems from the same logic that aims to arbitrate whether or not she should consent to sex, insert an IUD or have an abortion. Everything emerges from the conviction that women are not entirely their own owners, and must be available to society to satisfy or reproduce them.

Jodie Foster, Annette Bening, Diane Keaton are stars who made a career in Hollywood, but who chose not to undergo procedures, aging in a scandalously natural way in front of the cameras. Pamela Anderson caused a stir when she appeared at Paris Fashion Week without makeup. Certainly the biggest “nude” in the recent history of the event.

They should not serve as models of what we should do, as it is precisely about stopping following imposed models and starting to break expectations about how we should be. Their merit lies in not bowing down to public scrutiny, in choosing if, when and how they want to deal with their own appearance.

Everyone keeps their opinion about the female body to themselves. We have no existence outside of this body and to criticize it is to suggest that we do not serve as people. Proof of this are studies that demonstrate how expectations regarding self-image have sickened, mutilated and killed young girls around us.

The female beauty model is made to be unattainable and this is no accident. Idealization serves to make it clear that we are lacking and that nothing we do will be enough, condemning us to beg for approval. This leaves us with an experience of perennial inadequacy and dependence.

Paradoxically, women can be tormentors of other women. This occurs when, upon identifying with the male ruler, they envy those who come close to him or those who allow themselves to ignore him.

Feeling as self-confident as a cis white man is the goal of women who seek to understand where so much self-esteem comes from. It is not uncommon for men to feel entitled to judge women whose appearance is light years from their own.

Resentful foxes, when faced with a bunch of unobtainable grapes, label them unripe or, perhaps, overripe.

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